+ Please tell me where you are in your MTS journey, where you’re from, and any of your church connections and/or leadership roles.
I am about to start my fourth year at MTS in the Master of Divinity program and will start the Certificate of Spiritual Direction program in January. While I am not originally from Memphis, it has been my home for the last 20 years. I am the pastor of Neighborhood Church in Midtown.
+ What led you to your work as a chaplain?
I worked full-time as a Registered Nurse before I started at MTS and I missed spending time with people in the healthcare environment. The West Cancer Center internship intrigued me because it offered time with patients in a new capacity. I do not have a background in chaplaincy but I wanted to experience this role and develop new skills in the ministry of presence. I found the cancer center setting appealing because of my family. My grandmother, who was one of my closest friends, battled cancer for 9 years before passing away in 2019. My family spent a lot of time in waiting rooms and infusion centers during those years. My grandmother would love that I am learning how to be a chaplain specifically in a cancer center.
+ What part of chaplaincy work is most meaningful to you?
Given my nursing background, I know what it is like to have a running to-do list in my mind that keeps me from being completely present to the folks in front of me despite my best efforts. What I have noticed about chaplaincy in this outpatient context is that I am unrushed and relaxed, able to sit with folks as long as they would like. It is my job to be with them and so I am doing exactly what I am supposed to do through listening to stories, asking good questions, reflecting on life, offering encouragement, and praying honestly. Since those are pretty much my favorite things to do in general and in pastoring, it has been a blessing to meet so many wonderful people and accompany them on their cancer journey.
+ Tell us about an aspect of your work so far with West Cancer Center and Memphis Theological Seminary that has caused you to change or grow in some way.
I hope this experience has helped me grow in my ability to offer a safe, non-judgmental, and non-anxious presence to folks who desire spiritual and emotional support. It has also reminded me that life is short. While that is not a new discovery, it has become more real and sobering over this semester at the West Cancer Center. I hope I have deepened the capacity to savor and delight in this moment as well as to have a little more courage to take risks when there is no reason to wait to experience life.