Born to be…pastoral

Barb LeDucNews

On his way to a Naval career or a line of work that employed his education in math and physics, Doug Fakkema made some major course corrections that changed his life. He left physics and the Navy behind to pursue a religious vocation.

After earning his Master of Divinity degree from Western Seminary in Portland, OR Rev. Fakkema served in several churches and later completed a Master of Theology program at Regent College in Vancouver, BC. Today he is pastor at the Anacortes Christian Reformed Church and Coordinator of Pastoral Care at Island Hospital, where he oversees the work of several volunteer chaplains. In addition to being a volunteer chaplain himself, Rev. Fakkema’s work includes encouraging, scheduling, training and recruiting the gifted spiritual-care providers who make up this team.

Members of the IH Pastoral Care team spend hundreds of hours each year with hospital patients and their families — praying with them if called upon, but always offering quiet words of encouragement, support and comfort. “We’re prepared to leave some of our theological distinctives at the door for the privilege of serving patients with a broad range of spiritual and emotional needs,” says Rev. Fakkema. “Often we attend to the family — offering a simple ministry of presence — while hospital staff attend to the patient. Chaplains are also available to our Island Hospital staff who encounter pastoral questions in caring for patients and themselves.”

A member of the IH volunteer chaplain’s program since 1999, Rev. Fakkema says he is continually amazed by the work of his colleagues. From assisting police and family members following a suicide to holding the hand of an elderly patient who is terrified of getting an IV to supporting family members and caregivers during difficult end-of-life situations.

Rev. Fakkema lauds the openness of Island staff for their willingness to work with the chaplains. “I’m especially grateful”, he adds, “because I have a personal aversion to bodily fluids and a few times staff members have had to take care of me as well as their patient.”

Rev. Fakkema and his wife Laurie, who has supported this ministry and has raised money for the chaplain program at Island Hospital, live in Oak Harbor.

For more information about the Pastoral Care Program at Island Hospital, call (360) 299-4280 or email chaplain@islandhospital.org.