United States Army Reserves, CH (1LT) – Chaplain First Lieutenant
“I perform Protestant services once a month, as well as religious rites. I provide confidential counseling to all my soldiers and advise my commander on religious, spiritual, moral and ethical matters. I am the officer in charge of my unit ministry team that consists of three soldiers. In addition, I develop religious and ethical education programs and activities, conduct seminars and retreats and provide combat stress support.”
What led you to seminary, specifically Drew Theological School?
“During my senior year at Ramapo College, God called me into ministry and whispered “pastoral counseling.” I had no idea what the term meant and so I began asking questions to my mentors. The Rev. Mack Brandon was my gospel choir teacher and I felt he could help me discern my next steps. I had always envisioned myself becoming a journalist writing about spirituality and Christian issues. Rev. Brandon encouraged me to look into the MDiv program at Drew. I believe I was so busy with graduation and planning my first missions trip that I forgot about his spiritual direction. A year later after graduation, I had decided to attend a school in New York City because it was closer to my new apartment. One night, as I spoke with a friend on the phone, I heard God clearly say, “Drew.” It wasn’t until that moment that I realized I didn’t follow God’s first prompting for me to look into Drew’s program. That very night I reached out to all of my mentors and asked them to write recommendations for Drew. I spoke to my spouse and we made a decision to follow God. When we later visited the campus we felt completely at home in the Forest. There was a peace there that my husband and I had not felt anywhere else before. That’s when we knew without a shadow of a doubt, that this was where God was calling our family.”
How did Drew prepare you for your current role as a chaplain?
“Drew is such a unique place. I’ve had many God encounters while I was at Drew and I learned a lot about my biases and my true calling. As I sat down to speak about my cross-cultural trip and where I saw myself after Drew, I was encouraged to do CPE. I did not know much about the career path of a chaplain besides my one encounter with a chaplain while my Godfather was having chemotherapy. But Drew has always been an advocate for its MDiv students to do at least one unit of CPE. Once I began that program, I felt a pull towards chaplaincy. Most of my classmates knew they were called to pastoring a church, but I was still discerning my path. Drew always brought the best version of who I was out of my innermost parts. Drew challenged me to love deeper and articulate what social justice meant to me. I learned about revolutionary love and how to truly do no harm to my neighbor while at Drew. Drew changed me in all the best ways possible and I believe that’s why I am able to love every person that comes in my path the way I do. Because Drew instills in its students to love your neighbor as yourself, but also become healthy mind, body and spirit—others we serve can see Christ’s love within us.”