The history of the Department of Pastoral Care began in 1972 under the leadership of Reverend Bob Carter. However, there has been a spiritual presence of teaching that has existed since the opening of the hospital. At the persistent urging of Dr. Duncan Shaw Owen, the first hospital chapel was erected and dedicated in 1957. In the same year, Dr. Owen began a Sunday morning Interdenominational Sunday School Class which was broadcasted live over a local radio station until the late 90's.
Chaplain Carter worked by himself for several years as the only hospital chaplain. In 1975 Diana Smith was brought on as the department secretary. In 1987 Chaplain Carter began the Volunteer Chaplaincy program that consisted of fourteen local clergy persons. Reverend Johnnie Huggins was one of the volunteer clergy who later was hired as an Evening Chaplain. Later Chaplain Michael Weaver and Chaplain Diana Smith were hired as full time chaplains in the department of pastoral care.
Chaplain Carter shepherded the department for thirty-one years. Under his leadership, the department went through several changes. Another chaplain was added to the team, Chaplain Betsy Wood. Later two additional chaplains were hired, Chaplain Alan Johnson and Chaplain Lewis Lent. Chaplain Lent was instrumental in developing a closed-circuit television station on Channel 9. This gave patients and family members access to viewing the worship services that were held in our hospital chapel.
In 2003 Chaplain Carter retired. At that time, Chaplain Dick Bowen became the director of the department. Chaplain Bowen retired in 2007. Chaplain Ed Richardson was hired as Director in 2008. Under Chaplain Richardson leadership Chaplain Michelle Smith was added to the staff.
In 2010 Chaplain Charles B. Terrell was hired to be director of Pastoral Care. Chaplain Melanie Swofford was hired in the fall of that year. Shortly after that a contracted Association for Clinical Pastoral Education Certified Supervisor, Reverend Cary J. Melvin was hired to begin a Clinical Pastoral Education program (CPE). In 2012 the dream for an ACPE accredited Clinical Pastoral Education program became a reality. Twenty CPE units were completed in this program.
In the spring of 2011 Chaplain Keith Reed was hired as the Chaplain at Highsmith Rainey Specialty Hospital. In 2014 Keith Reed retired. The department then hired Chaplain Marvin Clowney as the chaplain at Highsmith Rainey Specialty Hospital. In the summer of 2017 Director Chaplain Terrell retired. In the spring of 2018 Chaplain Cynthia Brasher was hired as the Corporate Director of Pastoral Care.
Today, this tradition of excellence in pastoral care continues as we examine our mission and explore the most effective ways to provide and train persons in the art of pastoral care and education. We are now staffed with the Corporate Director of Pastoral Care Cynthia Brasher, two full time Clinical staff Chaplains Marvin Clowney and Melanie Swofford, and specially trained volunteers. This team of chaplains continues to strive to provide excellent spiritual care to all patients, families, visitors and staff throughout the health system.
Please call the hospital operator. Dial "0" inside the medical center. From outside, dial 615-4000.