LPW gets new chaplain

Published 9:46 pm Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The steps that led the Rev. Donn Cannon to become the new director of spiritual life at Lake Prince Woods were set in motion more than 11 years ago.

Cannon, a lifelong resident of New Orleans, La., was evacuated from his hometown when Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005. He landed in Virginia not long after thanks to a full scholarship offered him at Regent University.

When the storm hit, Cannon was working at a hospice and palliative care facility in New Orleans. His 23 years of ministerial experience has ranged from the associate pastor of a 3,000-member church to the senior pastor of smaller churches to administrative positions. He’s also trained and certified as a disaster recovery and trauma chaplain. He also worked for the Department of Homeland Security and has degrees in political science, American history and government as well as in divinity.

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His wide range of education and experience has prepared him perfectly for his current role, he said.

“God has prepared me for right where I am,” he said.

As director of spiritual life at the community, which is affiliated with the United Church Homes and Services, Cannon will plan and participate in a variety of worship services, including weekly Bible studies and Sunday evening vespers.

He also will implement programs that respond to spiritual needs of the residents and provide pastoral counseling and support to residents and staff.

“I love my role, because it gives me a great deal of latitude to play into my strengths,” Cannon said. “I love people, and that’s God’s calling on my life.”

Cannon said his work is inspired by the letters his grandmother wrote to him from a retirement community in Nebraska after being evacuated from New Orleans after Katrina. She told him about how important the chaplain there was to her.

Cannon continues to keep her letters in his office.

“They remind me to treat each individual as if they were my grandmother, or my grandfather,” Cannon said. “I want to let them know that somebody does care and somebody will listen.”

Cannon said he hopes to integrate faith more into the everyday activities of the community — by showing faith-based movies on movie nights, for example — and give local ministers and congregations more opportunities to get involved at Lake Prince Woods.

“It’s more ecumenical,” he said. “I get to reach out to local ministries and ministers to involve them in the community here.”

He’s also looking to develop leaders within the community who can lead Bible studies and other such efforts.

Cannon said he hopes to be able to return the many blessings he received when he was rebuilding his life after Katrina.

“Now it’s my turn to give back,” he said.