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Chattahoochee Hospice says goodbye to chaplain

LANETT — A reception was held Tuesday afternoon in the River Room at the Lanett Hampton Inn & Suites to thank an outgoing chaplain for Chattahoochee Hospice and to welcome the new one.

The Rev. Mark McGee is leaving the position after 15 years with Chattahoochee Hospice. He’s been the pastor at Fairfax Baptist Church for about one month. His departure as hospice chaplain will give him more time to serve as pastor of a church with more than 250 members. A native of Tuscaloosa, McGee had previously served as pastor of the First Baptist Church in West Point and Providence Baptist Church near Lanett. He’d been the chaplain for Chattahoochee Hospice since 2004. He’s been with Fairfax First Baptist since Dec. 8, and Dec. 20 was his final day with Chattahoochee Hospice.

The new chaplain, the Rev. Michael Stiggers, is no stranger to hospice. It’s just that he will be doing it closer to home now. He’s been a hospice chaplain for years in many places outside Chambers County while serving as pastor of Mount Pisgah Baptist Church near LaFayette. His wife Cheryl has taught in the Muscogee County School System since 1983, the year they were married.

“She’s now teaching grandchildren of her former students,” Stiggers said.

Stiggers said he’s looking forward to his new role.

“There’s a really good group of people to work with at Chattahoochee Hospice,” he said. “There’s a staff of 17 people and 28 very reliable volunteers.”

Stiggers said there are times in everyone’s life when they grieve.

“But people don’t grieve the same,” he said. “One of God’s greatest gifts is the understanding you can’t do anything to make it better for someone who is grieving, but being there matters. People will forget what you may have done or said to them in a time of grief, but they won’t forget you having been there for them.”

The River Room was packed with well-wishers who came and went during the two-hour reception. All of them came by to thank McGee for what he has meant to Chattahoochee Hospice and to welcome Stiggers in his new role as hospice chaplain.

“Hospice has been very rewarding to me,” McGee said. “Connie and I won’t be leaving the area. We’ll still be here, and people can call on us anytime.”

McGee thanked the staff for their work for the organization and Hilda Jones for her work as a volunteer coordinator.

The McGees have two children, Son Brook lives in the local area and daughter Ansley lives with her husband Shea in Roswell, Georgia.

“I am really enjoying being at Fairfax First Baptist,” McGee said. “It has had a strong presence in the community for a long time. It’s a privilege to pastor a church with so many good people.”

Stiggers has worked in hospice programs throughout Alabama and Georgia and has preached at funerals all across the eastern U.S.

“When you get to know families, you learn that they have loved ones scattered all over,” he said. “There are times you need to be there for them in distant places.”

As the new chaplain for Chattahoochee Hospice, he can now spend more time in Chambers County.