Originally, I was ordained to ministry by the Lewiston Church of the Brethren (Minn.) and later went on to earn a PhD in psychology, and am now a third year Master of Divinity (MDiv) student at Bethany. Having been a church planter for several decades, a Bible college director for a half-dozen years, and a pastoral psychotherapist for a lengthy season, I felt attracted to explore the possibility of hospital chaplaincy because of the challenges afforded me in Bethany's ministry formation classes, which were the catalyst to deeper understanding, broader theological reflection, and openness to the call of God.
This year I've served as chaplain in a hospital setting through a Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) program, which enabled me to purposely blend my experience as a psychotherapist, pastor, church planter, and college teacher into the distinct role of hospital chaplain--a role that involves far more than simply visiting sick people. Every person in the hospital is a member of my congregation when I am on duty: patients, family members, visitors, physicians, nurses, dietary workers, housekeepers, administrators, and so on. I encourage, pray, listen, weep, laugh, and am often with people as they leave this life; I hold hands, perform weddings and funerals, preach at chapel services, and counsel. Mostly, I love people with the love of Christ.
A unique quality of Bethany is its ability to blend outstanding professors, small classes, warm peer friendships, and personal attention with deep theological reflection, practical application, and spiritual as well as ministry formation. That uniqueness has enabled me to learn to appreciate others as they are in their individual faith journeys, to be nonjudgmental, to see the marginalized, disenfranchised, and hurting as "Jesus in a distressing disguise" (to quote Mother Theresa), to be purposeful and intentional in my ministry, to understand the theological underpinnings that lead to figuratively washing the feet of others, to be open to God's changing call, and to recognize my gifts and growing edges. The combination is invaluable.