+ Where are you in your MTS journey? Where are you from? What church connections and/or leadership positions should we know about? 

Stephanie Turner

I am a native Memphian, although over half of my childhood was spent traveling as a Marine Corps dependent as my dad was a Marine.

I anticipate graduating from Memphis Theological Seminary in May 2024. I am currently enrolled in the Master of Arts in Christian Ministry Program with a Specialization in Chaplaincy Studies. 

I accepted a call into God’s Ministry in August of 2000. I have served as an Associate Minister under my current Pastor, Rev. Dr. Gina M. Stewart’s (who is also a graduate of Memphis Theological Seminary) leadership at Christ Missionary Baptist Church since July 2002. My role in this capacity has been crucial in preparing me to serve in chaplaincy.

+ What led you to your work as a chaplain? 

I was led to become a chaplain decades ago after observing the late Bishop William Young, who was the chaplain assigned to the outpatient dialysis unit at then Methodist Hospital Central on Union Avenue. This was my first job after having graduated from LeMoyne-Owen College back in 1990. The compassion and care that Bishop, then Chaplain, Young showed for the patients and staff in the unit touched my heart. I was again inspired by chaplaincy when I observed the chaplain with Crossroads Hospice who responded to my family when my maternal grandmother passed away in 2007.

I was overjoyed when I learned that I had been selected to serve as an Inaugural Chaplain Intern at West Cancer Center. Ironically, I learned firsthand about the uniqueness of West Cancer Center earlier this year when an immediate family member was diagnosed with cancer. That experience really prepared me to consider the internship. I had no idea that there would be an internship opportunity there and probably would not have considered it prior to my family member’s diagnosis. Being on the other side of the experience, I can say that it would have been a missed opportunity on my part had I not applied.

The other interns and myself have on several occasions been told of the positive impact that our presence is making with the patients, family members and staff. I believe it’s unanimous that we, the interns are receiving the blessing. I usually walk away from the encounters, humbled that I’ve been blessed to shed a little light on someone who is primarily fighting for their life’s experience. It almost can’t be put into words. It is very humbling. I have been extremely blessed by the entire experience at West, thus far. I see and do ministry differently after this encounter. My perspective on life has been enhanced.

+ What part of chaplaincy work is most meaningful to you? 

The part of chaplaincy work that is most meaningful to me is being entrusted to walk a portion of a journey with a person or persons. Chaplaincy is about “being present” in various capacities. What chaplaincy looks like for one person make not look the same for another.  

+ 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 would tell someone interested in or discerning a call to chaplaincy to understand that it is absolutely a call to answer. The obligations may be intense depending upon the type of chaplaincy involved. However, it is very rewarding to know that you most likely assisted someone during a difficult time in their lives. I am humbly grateful for the chaplaincy journey thus far.

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