Last week, many of us gathered with family and friends to give thanks for our blessings in life. We reminded those we love how much we care, and offered gratitude for our fortunes, big and small.
At WakeMed, we give thanks to the countless employees, physicians, volunteers and friends who make our hospital the best in the region. And today, we remember an incredible employee who cared for our patients, their families, and our own WakeMed caregivers. We remember John Edgerton, director of Spiritual Care at WakeMed, and the legacy he left in the hearts of everyone he touched. John passed away on Monday, November 15, 2010.
During his 22 years of service at WakeMed, John dedicated himself to shaping a spiritual care program that offers a complete range of pastoral care to all. His work, support and dedication to the emotional and spiritual wellbeing of people is felt at every level of care throughout our hospital – from WakeMed nurses, physicians, physical therapists and social workers to administrators, volunteers and more.
His creed was to teach those around him, and he did just that. John spent a lifetime of learning, and his enthusiasm for education helped him develop WakeMed’s Clinical Pastoral Education program. The program now provides yearlong, student residency placements throughout WakeMed, allowing pastoral students the opportunity to follow their dreams of careers in hospice, the military and hospital ministries.
Regardless of background or circumstance, John always took the time to listen, teach and offer encouraging words of inspiration to everyone he encountered. By doing so, he influenced and encouraged countless of patients and visitors, coworkers and peers to reflect on their lives.
Many of us at WakeMed knew John for the humorous and poignant stories he shared as he offered invocations at WakeMed events and ceremonies. John loved weaving his understanding of life through stories and prayer to inspire and support those around him. His sermons were often filled with lessons on healing and coping with pain, hurt, and grief. He connected his experiences with people he met through heart-felt expressions and sermons.
Friends at WakeMed fondly remember John’s resistance to e-mail and insistence on connecting face-to-face to carry out his work. He helped us all to understand the value of listening with an open heart and open mind. As Rev. Jim McKinnon so eloquently said in his prayer at John’s funeral, “Teaching us the value of attentive human interaction, the importance of really listening, the lessons of life to be found in common experiences … how to find profound truth in ordinary moments and events … he taught us so many things about our human condition, and he opened up visions of better and more meaningful life through his insight, and the clear and concise ways that he commented on the things that he saw and heard.”
John was seen every day at WakeMed throughout the hallways, exercising in Healthworks or joining coworkers for lunch in Café 3000. John also served on WakeMed’s Ethics Committee, since its beginning, asking questions and delivering compassion as he heard cases and discussed difficult situations that arose in the medical treatment of patients.
John‘s leadership in spiritual care didn’t stop at WakeMed. John’s work was felt throughout our community, as he ministered and provided pastoral care to several area churches, where he was known for his gifts of preaching, reflections and leadership.
Our WakeMed family will deeply miss John. We will always treasure the legacy he leaves behind, and will see it every day through the hundreds of lives he touched throughout his tenure at WakeMed. Our hearts go out to his family, loved ones, friends and every person who had the pleasure of enjoying his insight, sensitivity and the love he shared.
Lil Galphin is director chaplaincy services at WakeMed Raleigh Campus.