How chaplains, pastoral counselors, specialized ministers lift their voices 
in a time such as this

  • From the lens of a pastoral counselor
  • From the lens of a military chaplain
  • From the lens of a healthcare chaplain
  • Collection of poems by Lt. Col. Ruth Naomi Segres
  • From the lens of hospice chaplains
  • From the lens of Asian-American chaplains
  • From the lens of an executive director
  • From the lens of a correctional chaplain
  • From the lens of a chaplain educator
A COVID-19 prayer for God's people


Connect with American Baptist National Network of Chaplains, 
Pastoral Counselors, Spiritual Directors,  Specialized Ministers


Resources on anti-racism


We will not be silent!
By the Rev. Dr. Patricia Murphy, BCC

For if you keep silence at such a time as this, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another quarter, but you and your father's family will perish. Who knows? Perhaps you have come to royal dignity for just such a time as this.


Beloved Colleagues in Ministry,

I greet you with a heavy heart during these pandemics.

Yes, I said, "pandemics"! Both COVID-19 and the unveiling of racial violence in America are public health disparities!

Most of us have witnessed and been traumatized by the recent senseless murders of African- Americans: Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Ky., in her own home; George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minn., after allegedly using a counterfeit $20 to buy a pack of cigarettes; and Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick, Ga., running while black. We have also been traumatized by the uncertainties of COVID-19. How can we be silent at such a time as this?

These traumatic experiences and the unsurmountable types of grief that we have endured in these past months have given us the right not to remain silent: disfranchised grief, cumulative grief, traumatic grief, masked grief, distorted grief and collective grief, to name a few. And let me not forget that the past 400 years have given people of color the right not to remain silent.

Coronavirus infections are rising, and death from this disease has not ceased. People of color in America are dying at alarming rates from both pandemics. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that scientists are currently working diligently to find a vaccine for COVID-19, while Americans all over the United States and its global allies are working on the "vaccine" to begin healing of racial violence among people of color via nonviolent protesting and Zoom gatherings of justice.

We cannot be silent during pain and suffering. We are not built to allow psychological, spiritual and socio-economic stressors to inhabit our physical dwellings for an extended amount of time. It's not healthy, and it's not normal for humanity to continue to live a holistic life amidst all these pandemic realities. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross subscribed to seven stages of grief, but there are also stages toward healing and recovery from all this trauma and grief. I invite you to begin to navigate through this grief by registering today for ABHMS' free "You Are Not Alone: A Space for Grace [Virtual] Retreat." Registration and additional information are available online. Register today!

Be encouraged by Esther's story, and choose righteousness over royalty. Esther appears to have set aside her own agenda and ambitions to face the enemy. She prepared herself to approach the problem by fasting and praying. Esther understood what she was dealing with, and she knew she couldn't possibly stop a race disease on her own. Esther sought God for wisdom, and she trusted that God would give her the strength and courage that she needed to succeed. Esther claimed her voice and spoke up and stood up, causing the enemy to shut up.

As your ecclesiastical endorser, I recognize that you are serving in some of the most vulnerable places in our nation, providing spiritual care, counseling and direction for those who are on the front lines. So many of you are using your positions, resources, education, gifts and talents by taking a stand and letting your voices be heard.

I am happy to share in this issue the numerous ways that our colleagues have been using their voices in such times as these. These colleagues are pastoral counselors, chaplains and specialized ministers--some who are endorsed and others who are new members of our American Baptist National Network.

Beloveds, remember: No matter where you are positioned in this present day, I encourage you not to remain silent. No matter what color your skin may be, you have the right not to remain silent. If your voice finds you in a protest, then protest; if your voice finds you in prayer, then pray; if your voice leads you to write, then write. Why? Because you can't be silent in such a time as this. Stay well, stay strong and stay safe!

Rev. Dr. Patricia Murphy
The Rev. Dr. Patricia Murphy, BCC, is ecclesiastical endorser and national coordinator of American Baptist Home Mission Societies' (ABHMS) Chaplaincy and Specialized Ministries.

How chaplains, pastoral counselors, specialized ministers lift their voices in a time such as this
From the lens of a pastoral counselor

Keeping the balance
By the Rev. Chaplain Bill Davis, LCSW, M.Div., MSW, PC

Be hospitable to one another without grumbling. As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

1 Peter 4:9-10 (NKJV)

As with any crisis, the experience of loss of normalcy, hopes, dreams and support systems often overwhelms previously established coping skills, and they fail to be useful in stabilizing mental, emotional, spiritual and physical well-being. The COVID-19 worldwide pandemic has proven to be a crisis which has created disequilibrium within the lives of a great many people and their ability to navigate through life, family and community changes. Within the Native American world view, the goal of intervention is to seek to restore balance in the mind, heart, spirit and body of each affected person to facilitate a decrease in symptoms of anxiety, depression and grief.

To provide a framework that is culturally appropriate for each person, family or organization, there are a number of effective steps that can be taken to determine an appropriate treatment plan. The first step is the completion of a comprehensive assessment to obtain details of the event and its impact, determine suicidal ideation, homicidal ideation (due to the result of longstanding interpersonal and family dysfunction) and whether or not hospitalization is warranted (Aguilera, 1998, pg. 18-23).

The next step involves planning the therapeutic process. This step must include feedback from the individual or family to identify what they consider to be the most important area of concern to be addressed. In my experience, many individuals and families at this juncture tend to
project blame onto others to avoid having to take responsibility for their inappropriate responses to the crisis. In such cases, the conversation could greatly benefit from steering in the direction of discussing resiliency. This action is followed by the intervention itself and resolution, which includes a plan that anticipates future changes (Aguilera, 1998, pg. 18-23).

Many people have the capacity to recognize what things have worked for them in the past to deal with sudden change and the confusion that comes with it. In his online article "The 8 Key Elements of Resilience" Shahram Heshmat, Ph.D., (May 11, 2020) states that "Resilience is defined as the psychological capacity to adapt to stressful circumstances and to bounce back from adverse events." Two of the most important identified elements to restoring homeostasis are a) pursuing a meaningful goal and b) social support.

Unlike an individually experienced crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic provides an opportunity to assist individuals and families in the realization that they are not alone in their struggles. Successfully supporting those who are seeking to overcome their struggles with the challenges of isolation, unemployment and the breakdown of social interactions must include identifying ways in which those clients can feel useful again. Working with clients to create a new goal for their lives that will give them a sense of meaning and purpose provides an avenue for creating a new and flexible normal that, in turn, facilitates the development of a new social support system.

Expect resistance as many will lament the loss of their past lives and struggle with a willingness to learn the use of new tools for creating a new way to embrace creating a new future. This process can be made easier with guiding the client through exploring a deeper relationship with their God. In my experience, those who have the greatest resistance to growth and change are those who have no belief system and are not involved in any form of faith community or service organization. These individuals tend to lean toward having serious behavioral as well as other forms of addictions that will require intensive clinical support.

Guiding clients in identifying their God-given gifts and talents that can be of service to God, family, community and nation will go a long way in decreasing symptoms of anxiety, depression and feelings of loss. Keep in mind that the restoration of balance within the client must begin with you through your showing empathy, empathy and even more empathy. This will instill within the client a sense of trust that you do care about them, regardless of who they are or where they come from (Ashley Sr. et al., 2017). And above all else, remember to breathe.

Aguilera, D. (1998). Crisis Intervention: Theory and Methodology, Eighth Edition. St. Louis, MO: Mosby, Inc. .

Ashley, Sr., W. Samet, R. Radillo, R., Ali, U., Billings, D., Davidowitz-Farkas, Z. (2017). Cultural and Religious Consideration (pp. 249-266). Disaster Spiritual Care: Practical Clergy Response to Community, Regional and National Tragedy, 2nd Edition.Rev. Willard W.C. Ashley, Sr. and Rabbi Stephen B. Roberts, editors. Nashville, TN: Skylight Paths Publishing

Heshmat, S. (2020, May 11). The 8 Key Elements of Resilience: A roadmap for developing mental resilience skills. Psychology Today. Retrieved 06/05/2020 from

From the lens of a military chaplain

Chaplain's Reflection
By the Rev. Chaplain (Col.) Brett Charsky
I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers, because I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints.
Philemon 1:4-5 (ESV)

We know the importance of saying "thank you" to someone. Why is it that we do not often say those two words? For the past three months, pastors, chaplains and pastoral counselors have worked tirelessly to provide God's love and grace and speak the truth to patients, families, inmates and congregants.
We enter ministry because we believe God called us. As well, we do all things unto His glory and honor so that the Lord Jesus may be exalted, relying upon the Holy Spirit's power. Paul teaches us an important lesson: Thank others for their love and faith in the Lord Jesus. He thanks Philemon for his strong testimony for the Lord Jesus because it was founded on God's love and by faith in Christ Jesus.
While serving as the state chaplain for the Joint Force Headquarters, Vermont Army National Guard, I supervised a young chaplain for seven weeks as he provided spiritual leadership to the command, soldiers and airmen at an "alternative hospital facility" during the COVID-19 pandemic. He provided me with weekly reports, and we talked through text, phone calls and emails. At the end of his tour, he thanked me for the opportunity to advise the command, provide spiritual leadership to the soldiers and airmen, and to serve the people of Vermont.
He learned a lot of important lessons, but the most important lesson was forming relationships and connecting to people. He was able to minister to lots of people from different faiths and traditions and to know that God used him because he took the time to listen and care.
Thank you, Rev. Dr. Murphy, for inviting us to participate in a weekly Zoom meeting so that we could form relationships and connect with other American Baptist pastors, chaplains and pastoral counselors throughout the United States. These relationships and connections encouraged each of us as we listened to how God provided, protected and sustained us in ministry!
Thank you, pastors, chaplains and pastoral counselors for taking the time to meet by Zoom and both to share your testimony of God's faithfulness and to invite us into your ministry and difficulties. Paul continues his message to Philemon in verse 7: "For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you."
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

2 Corinthians 13:14 (ESV)


The Rev. Chaplain (Col.) Brett Charsky

From the lens of a healthcare chaplain

No home sweet home
By Dr. Jamie Frederika Eaddy
At the onset, I admit that I have a vested interest in this matter. I grew up around intimate partner violence (IPV), I experienced sexual violence, and I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. In 2011, I started a nonprofit that provides direct support and advocacy for survivors of sexual abuse and IPV. We also empower churches and community organizations to support survivors by providing awareness education and unique learning experiences. So, this is personal. Furthermore, I released a collection of poetry titled "Getting Naked to Get Free," which is a glimpse into my life's experiences with those taboo subjects.

When the order came down for people across the United States to stay at home and self-quarantine to slow the spread of the coronavirus, it seemed like a sufficient way to approach this pandemic. Stay home because it decreases the amount of contact with others. Stay home because it protects the most vulnerable of us from being infected--the immuno-compromised and the elderly. Most of us miss worship and fellowship with our congregations. Our children are at home, and we are now the teachers. Even if we want to be around people, our desire for safety outweighs the desire for physical contact. They have suggested to us that the safest place to be is at home. For many of us, this anecdote rings true.

However, for the 12 million people affected by IPV each year, home is anything but sweet. Home for them is uncomfortable and dangerous; it is not the safe haven that many of us, even when boredom settles in, get to enjoy. They are shut in with their abusers and shut off from some of the built-in protection to which they usually have access. For example, some find that work provides an oasis of safety and financial resources that might provide a pathway to exit an abusive relationship. Those who can work from home have the benefit of earning a paycheck but are likely still at risk. The opportunity to leave the house for work puts some distance, albeit temporary, between the abused and their abuser. Further, I cannot stop thinking about the fact that there is someone somewhere who put into place their exit strategy and was prepared to leave but is now unable to execute the plan because they are now under the constant watch of their abuser. For them, there is no home sweet home.

The deluge of added stressors--such as illness, anxiety, unemployment and financial upheaval--are just a few of the things that intensify the abuse they encounter while sheltering at home. The National Institute of Health reports that there is a direct correlation between increasing unemployment rates and alcohol consumption, especially the harmful and hazardous sort. Further, as harmful and hazardous alcohol consumption increases, so do the frequency and severity of abuse.

IPV is an important public health problem with enormous and long-term physical, psychological and spiritual health impacts on survivors. IPV is a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men in the United States have experienced violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime--and about 1 in 6 homicide victims are killed by their intimate partners.[i] Violence against women has been identified as the leading cause of injury to women between the ages of 15 and 49 and is one of the country's most expensive health problems.[ii]

It can happen to any one of us, occurs in both opposite--gender and same--gender relationships, and it happens in the church. IPV continues to be a perennial issue in the black church and Christendom as a whole. Women in the church continue to experience violence at increased rates. Moreover, many churches have been delayed in providing a meaningful response to IPV as families experience the turmoil of abuse.

Conversations with and observations of pastors and other faith leaders about what they are doing to help their congregations during this time provide information about vital work: feeding those in need of food, helping people with utility bills and assisting people with housing. They, often weary, talk about the work they are doing with the vulnerable populations--doing grocery runs for the elderly and finding creative ways to do inclusive Bible study for children and youth. All of this is excellent work--necessary work--but not the only work.

In 20 years of working to bring awareness to and provide direct support for survivors of abuse, I have found that many churches are silent about abuse or spread harmful theology and ideologies that support abuse. Furthermore, I fear that because we already do so little to address IPV, this mandatory shelter-in-place has allowed us to overlook another vulnerable population completely. Black women, who represent roughly 70 percent of the church, are often perceived to be available victims and become targets of male aggression and violence. [iii] Church is a place where they are inspired to live out their lives rooted in Christ. Yet, the institutional context of this faith--the church--often contributes to, justifies and silences violence against girls and women. [iv]

I readily admit that the relationship between religion and social change is a complex one. In many ways, religion both supports the status quo and inhibits change, and this often co-occurs. Also, I do not serve in the office of the pastor. As such, I am somewhat reticent to tell pastors what they ought to be doing. The burden carried by pastors is onerous. Creating some semblance of normalcy amid COVID-19 chaos, with a community experiencing perpetual grief, is an unreasonable but necessary weight for anyone to carry. However, I am a co-laborer, and I share the burden. I serve as a chaplain and associate minister responsible for congregational wellness, whose life work is in the field of Pastoral Theology and Pastoral and Spiritual Care. I am the one who spends time with the families during their hospital stays. I am by their bedside, facilitating virtual visits as the patient approaches their life's end. I am providing grief counseling, performing eulogies and offering much-needed relief to pastors who need a moment to breathe.

Nevertheless, I believe that pastors and faith leaders have an obligation and opportunity to use this time of social distancing to begin envisioning ways their congregations can address abuse--IPV, sexual violence, child abuse and human trafficking. Some churches have already incorporated this kind of work into the life of their church. However, for those who have not, now is the time. If you haven't before, now is the time to think about how the church can partner with shelters, nonprofits and other churches to provide support to survivors. Now is the time to consider if and how our preaching or teaching has suggested that abuse is acceptable. Now is the time to listen to the stories and believe the survivors. And now is the time for us to say that we need help getting involved in this work because we don't have to do it alone.

I realize that each of us will engage in this work in different ways, but we have to engage. Start by finding out what shelters are located near your church. Ultimately, this is not the first time that survivors have had to navigate complex situations; they are experts on what they need to be safe. They are resilient, and they are resourceful. Let's show them that they are important by finding ways to hear their stories and provide support. There is no need to talk about going to heaven if they are trapped in hell at home.

ii Gerhardt, Elizabeth. The Cross and Gendercide: A Theological Response to Global Violence Against Women and Girls (p. 14). InterVarsity Press. Kindle Edition.

iv Crumpton, Stephanie M.. A Womanist Pastoral Theology Against Intimate and Cultural Violence (Black Religion/Womanist Thought/Social Justice) (p. 2). Palgrave Macmillan US. Kindle Edition.


Jamie Eaddy, DMin., is a chaplain, death doula, CEO of Thoughtful Transitions and minister of Congregational Wellness at St. Paul's Baptist Church.

Collection of poems by 
Lt. Col. Ruth Naomi Segres

Yes We Can
Ruth N. Segres ©
"Yes we can."
Initially was the hope of one man.
Then others rallied with him
And said, "That phrase we understand."
"Yes we can."
Was the mantra that was used;
To become the helium balloon
With which others were infused.
Infused to rise above obstacles
And opposition too;
"Yes we can," was embraced by many
Not just a meagre few.
It resonated throughout the world.
It was spoken by many nations, tribes, and tongues.
"Yes we can," was recited by those
Who wanted a change to come.
Those words became inspirational
Bridging generational and racial gaps;
Once conversations were started
Erroneous myths collapsed.
The momentum of those words
Were like a locomotive on course.
As the momentum built
They became a reckoning force.
People said we can make a difference.
Together we will join hands;
To change the course of history
Oh, "yes we can."
Our differences can work for us
They can help create a diversified plan.
We can talk through what would divide us
Oh, "yes we can."
We can judge based upon the content of character
And not upon the color of one's skin.
We can exchange great ideas
And perhaps gain a friend.
We can right wrongs together.
We can unite and take a stand.
We can fight injustice of any kind.
Oh, "yes we can."
We can explore more galaxies.
Find pyramids in distant lands.
Give aid to the less fortunate,
Oh, "yes we can."
We can accomplish what we desire.
Lock arms to create strong a ban.
We will move forward in the name of justice
Oh, "yes we can."
We can tear down the old regime
Build anew on the rock--not the sand.
Believe in each other's dreams,
Oh, "yes we can."
We can rise from unlikely places
To hold the highest office in this land.
We can walk together in unity
Oh, "yes we can."
We came out in record numbers!
By the millions we took a stand!
Barack Obama became our president
Because unified we said, "oh, yes we can!"

Kings and Queens
Ruth N. Segres ©
They brought over kings and queens
And made them slaves;
In a foreign land,
Which became their grave.
They brought over kings and queens,
Bound by dirty rusted chains;
Whom they sold on selling blocks
And changed their names.
They brought over kings and queens
And made them work in sweltering heat;
Treated them like animals
And often upon their backs they would beat.
They brought over kings and queens
And made them work this land;
Then gave them laws to tell them
Where they could not sit or stand.
They brought over kings and queens
And upon arrival they were made slaves;
In this foreign and distant land
Which became their grave.
I am not a decedent of slaves
But of Kings and Queens!
I'm A Black American
Ruth N. Segres ©
I love my country
But it doesn't love me.
You see I am black.
I mean black as black can be.
I've been called blue-black
And as purple as a plum.
Because I am so dark
Some people have even called me dumb.
But I am not so dark
That my country won't send me off to wars.
But when I am home in my own country,
I am followed in certain stores.
Yes, I am black.
It's been said blacker than tar.
And the color of my skin
Has been compared to the tires on a car.
But, what does the color of my skin
Say about what I can or cannot do?
And why is the color of my skin
Such a threat to you?
I'm convinced it's not my color
But my ancestral abilities to overcome;
Just like Booker T. Washington, Harriet Tubman,
And Maya Angelou just to name some!
It's not my color that makes you afraid.
It is my intellect. Yes my mind.
I may be a black American
But me, no one will mentally bind!
Discrimination's Sting
Ruth N. Segres ©
Today I felt the sting of discrimination.
At first I became rather mad.
And then I was swollen with bitterness.
And then I became very sad.
Yes, sad for those who would perform such a violent act;
Because discrimination inflicts great pain.
Yes, sad for those who would perform such a violent act;
When there is nothing to gain.
The sting of discrimination is not easily forgotten.
It's pain goes very deep.
The swelling causes great indignation
And from my aura it attempts to seep.
I, the victim fight as not to perpetuate the violence
Which upon me was bestowed.
The sting of discrimination is not easily removed.
It lingers in my soul.
Today I felt the sting of discrimination.
At first I became rather mad.
And then I was swollen with bitterness.
And then I became very sad.
No Friend of Mine
Ruth N. Segres
Jim Crow showed up today
And everyone was aware;
I went to take a seat
And was told I couldn't sit there.
That seat was reserved
But not for one of my kind;
I could sit in the back
But could not cross the line.
The line was defined by color
And if yours was of a darker hue;
There were certain things
That you just could not do.
You couldn't drink from the same fountain.
Couldn't go through front doors.
Couldn't sit in front of the buses.
And couldn't go in certain stores.
You couldn't live in certain areas.
Couldn't go to certain schools.
Couldn't get the things that were needed;
Like meager educational tools.
You couldn't even vote!
Couldn't sit on the theater's floor.
Couldn't go in some folks home,
Unless you used the back door.
You couldn't eat at some restaurants.
Couldn't go in The Inn.
There were always reminders
That Jim Crow wasn't a friend.
I Will Not Assimilate
Ruth N. Segres © 1998
I will not assimilate
To your ways of living.
And no I am not accepting
The handouts that you're giving.
I will not be apart
Of this idea of a melting pot;
Which will strip me of my identity.
Instead, I'll choose my own lot!
I will not buy
Just because you're selling.
Especially, when you don't invite me
Into your home--your dwelling.
I will not sit down
To allow you to stand up;
Because for too long
I've had to drink from life's bitter cup.
I will not shake your hand
And allow you to smile in my face;
When the truth of the matter is
You don't care for my race.
I will not back down
And continue to hold my peace;
When violence and injustices
Against my people increase.
I will not give in!
I will not give out!
But I will continue to stand
On the mountain and shout...
Flames of Freedom
Ruth N. Segres ©
The flames of freedom
Burned within my soul.
I wanted to jump and shout
And loose all control.
But then I was told
That freedom wasn't free;
And that certain inalienable rights
Were not meant for me.
I was not considered human.
I was not included.
Even though the American flag
Black people always slanted.
But how does one deem
Another so miniscule?
Who gave one the right,
To over another rule?
How do you exclude one group
From singing freedom's song,
And tell them that they don't matter
And that their color is wrong?
When the flames of freedom
Should be ignited all over the place
By red, yellow, black and white
People of every race.
The Heaviness of History
Ruth Naomi Segres © 2020
The heaviness of history
Descended on me like a ton of bricks.
When I heard another black man
From this earth had been ripped.
Ripped from his parents
Shot down in the street;
By the hands of angry white men
Yielding guns and firing heat.
Ahmaud Arbery was out on a jog
There was no crime to commit;
But white men saw him in their neighborhood
And decided that he didn't fit
He was black.
They are white.
And they decided for their neighborhood
Who was right.
Ahmaud was out on a jog
In broad daylight;
When white men not wearing hoods
Did their dastardly deed not waiting until the cloak of night.
He was black.
They are white.
They have been emboldened
To think that they are always right.
Now, not every white man
Is evil like this pair;
There are some white men
Who about all of humanity cares.
But the two that I'm talking about
Took the law into their own hands;
One, a former cop
Who had friends at the top.
So, for over two months
This evil pair walked free;
Until the video of their murder
Appeared on social media for all to see.
The outcry was immediate
Black people's voices were again in the wind;
That our lives didn't seem to matter
And that justice was not our friend.
In February, Ahmaud was out on a jog
It was a bright sunny day.
He was shot down and murdered
But an arrest didn't happen
Until the weekend of Mother's Day.
A day before his 26th birthday
The evil white men were placed in jail;
But justice has yet to be served
We must wait to see what their future entails.
Racism is cancerous.
It eats at all our souls.
Blacks and whites alike
On each it takes a toll.
It manifests differently
Masquerading as power and control,
The haves and the have nots
All the while corroding everybody's souls
Black people are tired.
Our anger and pain are real.
America must have a transformation
In order for all of her citizens to heal.
The heaviness of history
Descended on me like a ton of bricks.
When I heard another black man
From this earth had been ripped.

From the lens of hospice chaplains

Visiting Nurse Service of New York (VNSNY) Hospice's spiritual care counselors (SCCs), who are devoted to helping people find meaning and peace at the end of life, are also holding weekly gatherings online to support each other through troubled times--for their own strength and so they can continue to be a resource for others.
"Our SCCs are feeling stressed and overwhelmed just like the other disciplines," says Kei Okada, program manager, End-of-Life Spiritual Care. "In this time of uncertainty, the SCCs are focusing on sharing experiences and exploring ideas regarding how to support our hospice
care staff and how to practice self-care. They are united in mutual care and compassion, working together to be a reliable source of support for all staff."

Excerpted from "Supporting VNSNY's Heroic Hospice Workers Through Our Common Grief" from Frontline VNSNY


Kei Okada

Litany of courage, hope
for all first responders, caregivers

By the Rev. Sanchita Kisku, Ph.D.
Leader: The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall stand with courage in my mind and hope in my heart.

People: O Lord, give us your courage and conviction for all the first responders or caregivers at the health care facilities so we can find strength, energy and encouragement to continue our service to one another. We need your affirmation and courage to walk, talk and touch the COVID-19 people, to do our responsibilities with hope. We trust that you will not let us stumble because the one who watches over us will not slumber as we serve the patients. God help us not to be discouraged; give us strength to hold onto you with hope.
Leader: The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall stand with courage in my mind and hope in my heart.

People: O Lord, every day takes courage to come to work with hope that your shield of protection is around us. We believe because of our caring service, compassion in our hearts, and hope through our work, that many patients might receive healing. We seek your protection and safety; therefore, when we touch and take care of COVID-19 people, we believe that your armor of protection is present with us.
Leader: The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall stand with courage in my mind and hope in my heart.

People: O Lord, give us your wisdom and knowledge to understand each other, our coworkers, our patients' family members or our visitors. Even though all caregivers are going through challenges, hardship or depression, help us hold it together. Lord, give us courage to express our emotions, our anxieties, our sad feelings, our anger over failure to save a life, or our feelings of helplessness. When we express our honest feelings, we know that your presence is among us to give us hope continuously.  
Leader: The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall stand with courage in my mind and hope in my heart.

People: O Lord, we are vulnerable at this time of pandemic; help us be strong and resilient even when everything goes wrong. All of us wait with hope in you, Lord; let the courage of your presence come to us. When we feel helpless, hopeless and distressed, when we are beyond our abilities, we turn to you Lord; we seek the mighty power of your healing miracles. Give us some hope to hold on to so that we may be able to go to the next patient or the next person who needs care; help us do our duty and care for all again wholeheartedly.
Leader: The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall stand with courage in my mind and hope in my heart.

People: O Lord, many of us are not able to go home to our families, see our children or see our parents because of our responsibilities here in this place (hospital, nursing home, assisted living facility). We wait on
you, Lord; breathe on us the healing spirit so that it can spread to everyone for healing and recovery. As we clean the wounds, keep our patients away from all the contaminating germs; let your healing spirit also touch all the medical equipment so that we can find courage and hope to continue serving others. Amen.


The Rev. Sanchita Kisku, Ph.D., is associate pastor of First Baptist Church, Kalamazoo, Mich., and is an American Baptist National Network liaison.

From the lens of Asian-American chaplains

Karen.MOV            Burmese.MOV

From the lens of an executive director

Dangerous Infiltrators
By Dr. Jeffrey Haggray
Reflecting on the justified protests and unrest following the murder of George Floyd by four police officers in Minneapolis, I have posted considerably in recent days about the various entities that have infiltrated these protests with malicious intentions. No defense is needed for the thousands of diverse and discontented citizens who have taken to the streets across America and around the globe to express grief, pain and solidarity while calling attention to the outrageous murders (including of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor--among others), and to condemn the pathetically loathsome response of officials in bringing prosecutorial justice to the murderers of black bodies.

However, what "everyday" righteous protestors did not seek, anticipate or deserve is the insertion of a wide range of malicious workers that have included militant members from right-wing White supremacist, Alt-right, Anarchist and "Accelerationist" organizations, and on the left hand, some highly organized and trained Antifa activists whose methodology includes confronting police in highly provocative ways. I will reserve discussion of the "looters" until the end because they exist in a separate complex category. 

It is not overstatement to say that in most respects the militant instigators and accelerators have hijacked many of the protests across the country, introducing a level of malice, violence and property damage that is unrelated to the justice agenda of most of the protestors. They are primarily the ones starting these large fires and spray painting the walls of buildings with graffiti such as "BLM--FUCK the Police--FUCK 12" and so much more. They are placing stacks of bricks to be thrown, while also burning police vehicles.

For whatever reasons, mainstream news organizations are slow to conduct the level of deep investigative work needed to analyze and expose the identities, motives and methodologies of these entities on the air, instead making only scant mention of them during on-air news coverage. In so doing, even liberal media is failing our movement because they are keeping cameras trained on looters, while neglecting the more difficult investigative reporting related to these infiltrators.

Law enforcement officials are aware of these perpetrators and increasingly have adapted their tactics to target and isolate these malicious actors during protest events. In Minnesota, the state director of Public Safety reported during a news conference that, upon their arrests, those persons were found to be in possession of accelerants (for causing the massive fires), weapons (including assault rifles), and stolen vehicles with tags removed loaded with bricks and tools.  Some of those persons arrested in Minneapolis/St. Paul were residents of Iowa, Kansas, Illinois and other states. This scene has been duplicated in other major cities, including Atlanta, Chicago, Philadelphia, New York City and Nashville. 

We must be vigilant in revising our narrative to critique these malicious entities, lest they distort our righteous justice narrative, and-even more sinister-expand the exploitation, victimization and devastation in communities of color and in jurisdictions with liberal or progressive governments. The extremely severe damage-including the huge fires and destruction of government property they are causing-is exacerbating the political and economic tensions between Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) and local business communities, local police and government officials, and will lengthen their recovery following the double impacts of pandemic and mass protests on their communities. These developments are dangerous, and we need to modify our thinking, planning and activism in light of the devastation they are causing.

Honestly, I should devote an entirely different essay to looting, as it has such a complex history in capitalist America, involving socially and economically marginalized groups. In the interest of brevity, I'll simply say that looting is a crime of opportunity, it is wrong and is one of the most American things that disadvantaged populations do in a time of crisis. For the record, looting is wrong because we should not take property that does not belong to us, and when it is done during a protest for justice, it distracts attention and resources from the main thing (although I observed that in many instances the looters entered properties only after those were violated and busted open by anarchists and infiltrators). And often, the looters themselves busted open businesses. I'll admit, I would be mad and hurt if my own property was looted.

Not unrelated, we're also witnessing right now the looting of billions of dollars from the U.S. Treasury during the coronavirus pandemic, as moneys are allocated to enrich giant corporations and banks, while everyday Americans are having to pander around and wait in long lines for scraps. Working poor people have had their labor, wages and lives looted since forever in America. They pay inflated prices for inferior products and little respect every day in poor neighborhoods.

I understand that this analysis won't sit well with most readers, but for what it's worth, the poor people looting are les misérables in the United States; and while their looting devastates business owners, they, too, have been devastated in this broken economy with no chance of ever
rebounding. The senselessness we see of taking merchandise from violated properties exposes not simply the moral frame of mind of the looters but also the demented moral state of our nation. Perhaps more on all that another day.

Dr. Jeffrey Haggray is executive director of ABHMS.

From the lens of a correctional  chaplain

COVID-19 prison meditation
By Chaplain Richard Hicks
American Baptist Endorsement Committee Member

The March 24th edition of Mother Jones magazine contains a story about Keith LaMar. He has spent 27 years in solitary confinement in a supermax prison in Ohio. He is allowed one hour per day in a below-ground recreation cage (

LaMar is 50 years old. He was incarcerated as a teenager after killing someone in a botched drug deal. A few years later, he was sent to solitary and sentenced to death after being convicted of murdering five inmates during a riot. He is scheduled to be executed in 2023.

During a recent phone interview, LaMar shared how he stayed sane for nearly three decades in isolation. He compared the COVID-19 social distancing and his own segregation.
"Being in solitary confinement is really just being thrown upon yourself," he said. "All of a sudden, you're confronted with yourself. Many people haven't put the necessary energy into themselves to occupy themselves. A lot of guys who are initially thrown into this situation--it's like being thrown into the ocean. You have to learn how to swim. You have to learn how to deal with yourself."

LaMar admits his isolation is punishment. But, for families who are under orders to shelter in place, it is our opportunity to get more in tune with ourselves. He states that the root word of education is "to educe--to bring forth what is already there" (

The COVID-19 virus has compelled us to place distance between ourselves and loved ones. In this prison, our movement and contact are limited to help contain the spread of a germ we cannot see. As we face anxiety and grapple with discomfort, this is our season to confront and sit with the very person we often can stand the least: ourselves.

God longs to bring out of us everything God has placed in our spiritual DNA. I challenge each of us to learn well the lessons that God has laid bare before us. God is faithful in spite of this pandemic. We are not in control. We are at the mercy of the virus. The virus will tell us when it has run its course.

The prophet Elijah ran for his life when Jezebel vowed to kill him. He was distraught and begged the Lord to end his life. While sleeping in a cave, the word of the Lord confronted him. Elijah observed that the Lord was not in the strong wind, the earthquake or the fire. Elijah heard from God in a gentle and quiet whisper (1 Kings 19:11-12).

I pray that this season of limit and distance will compel us to sit still long enough to confront ourselves and hear God's gentle whisper. Until we can safely return to normal operations, let us sit patiently and extract what God has placed inside us.

From the lens of a chaplain educator

A lament in the 
American wilderness
By the Rev. Greta A. Wagner, ACPE Educator,
American Baptist National Network Liaison

Like a deer thirsts for flowing streams
so my soul longs to be refreshed;

to feel the fresh splash of life-giving water; 
to safely taste a trustworthy word to soothe parched minds; 
to restore one's soul.

O God, our spirit is exhausted, our eyes dry beyond tears, 
our hearts hiding in fear  in the scarcity of this wilderness where resources run dry  and hope grows dim for simple life preserving commodities in scant supply.

Where is my help when lives have been robbed of all that seemed to matter; when life as was known and taken for granted disappeared and will never again be the same?

How will Wisdom Voices of Truth be heard when threatened to be silenced each day and public servants grow weary begging for necessities, crying out to ears deaf and hearts hardened to the plight of others?

Where is there Hope for those laying their lives on the line in hospitals, grocery stores, first-line responders, and providers of the basic goods that sustain us in this barren time of pandemic?

Deep calls to deep as you level the playing field throughout the globe, afflicting the comfortable and comforting the afflicted in hand-sewn masks, care for children, brown bags of food for a meal.

Love calls to Love as songs are sung, simple words of gratitude spoken, persons recognized more clearly from afar, goodbyes spoken by phone, the people who are our nation distancing and staying safe.

Wisdom calls to Wisdom in the valiant effort of researchers; employers and employees together out of work donating and creating products to ease the staggering demise of strangers no longer the Other.

Truth confronts Power like Moses confronting Pharaoh, calmly, steadily, unceasingly daring to invite and entreat adversaries to be colleagues with "ears to hear and eyes to see" the signs of the times.

In the deep rush of the waters of your prevailing, pervasive Love, I take refuge, O Lord.

Through heroes and heroines, physical and spiritual care providers, prophets and never-to-be-known grace givers who do not grow weary, I feel your mercy poured out anew.

Teach me, O Lord, to see and to hear you moving and working among and with us that we may be your servants, your instruments to usher in the "birth quake" of a new way of life.

Equip and empower us, God of Living Water, to guide us in our travail of labor in this wilderness.

Accompany us when we resist your call toward this new day beyond the wilderness; a new way to be born into each of us who seek you, Wisdom and Truth for all ages, Love beyond Love forevermore.

The Rev. Greta A. Wagner

A COVID-19 prayer for God's people
By Chaplain (Capt.) Michael E. Mercier
Army Reserve, 419th MCB

Praise be to God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. 
By faith we pray.
Lord God, we bless You, love You, praise You, worship You, glorify You, magnify You, exalt You, uplift You, adore You, extol You, honor You, and respect You. 
We, as Your people, realize we have sinned greatly against You.
We, as Your people, confess and repent of our sins to You.
We, as Your people, confess Your Son as our Lord and Savior.
We, as Your people, rededicate our Covenant to You.
We, as Your people, thank You for the salvation, sanctification, and future glorification we have through Your Son.
We, as Your people, thank You for the fullness of all of Your blessings.
We, as Your people, pray that we will take up our crosses and follow Your Son as we journey through COVID-19.
We, as Your people, pray that we will glorify You through this.
We, as Your people, pray that You will bring revival to Your people.
We, as Your people, pray that You will bring us closer to You. 
We, as Your people, pray that You will have mercy on humanity and heal us from this pandemic.
We, as Your people, pray that You will bring salvation out of this pandemic.
We, as Your people, pray for comfort for those who need comfort.
We, as Your people, pray for healing for those who need healing.
We, as Your people,  pray for strength for those working on the front lines.
We, as Your people, pray for blessing and prosperity to return to our nation.
We, as Your people, pray for healing of the nations.
We, as Your people, pray for blessing and prosperity for the nations.
We, as Your people, pray that You will bring many good qualities out of this pandemic.  
Lord help us see this season in our lives from an eternal perspective.
Lord help us live in the moment and be patient from day to day.
Lord help us be the hands and feet of Jesus throughout this journey
by taking care of one another and by looking out for those who are less fortunate.
Lord we pray that Your Holy Spirit will be our healer, comforter, and guide.
We ask this in the Name of the Father, in the Name of the Son, and in the Name of the Holy Spirit. 
"If the challenge we face doesn't scare us, then it's probably not that important."

-- Simon Sinek


If you have not submitted your annual report for calendar year 2019, you are late! Your endorsement is in jeopardy of being out of good standing!   
Your 2019 annual report was due on Jan. 1, 2020, for calendar year 2019. Please note that Aug. 30, 2020, is the cutoff. After this date, if you haven't submitted your Annual Report, you will have to reapply for endorsement.  

If you are retired, update your contact information (address, telephone and email) by sending your information to

All Veterans Administration (VA) Chaplains: Please make sure to update your form if you are planning to apply for a transfer or a new position within the VA in 2020.

If you need a letter of endorsement for your employer, send an email message to endorsement@abhms.orgB e sure to specify the name and full address of your employer .

Again, if your annual report for 2019 has not been submitted to date and you haven't attended a denominational event in three years, your endorsement is in jeopardy. You may want to call or write my office today!

Connect with American Baptist National Network of Chaplains, Pastoral Counselors, Spiritual Directors, Specialized Ministers

Our new American Baptist National Network for Chaplains, Pastoral Counselors, Spiritual Directors and Specialized Ministers is strong and growing! Our First Meet and Greet for new members via Zoom is Friday, June 12, 2020. We are looking forward to connecting. If you want to be a part of this growing network, you can join today.

For information, visit You may also call or email me.

Stay tuned for exciting chaplaincy, pastoral counseling and specialized ministries news on ministrElife in 2020! We look forward to seeing you soon on ministrElife!

Julio A. Camacho Pietri has been endorsed as a Military Chaplain. Congratulations, Mr. Pietri!

1st Lt. Justin D. Cave has been endorsed as a Military Chaplain Candidate. Congratulations, 1st Lt. Cave!

The Rev. Roger S. Jackson has been endorsed as a Healthcare Chaplain. Congratulations, Rev. Jackson!

The Rev. Dr. Martha A. Jenkins has been endorsed as a Military Chaplain. Congratulations, Rev. Jenkins!

The Rev. Alissia J. Thompson has been endorsed as a Healthcare Chaplain. Congratulations, Rev. Thompson!

The Rev. Susan Van Horn has been endorsed as a Healthcare Chaplain. Congratulations, Rev. Van Horn!

The Reverend Kevin E. Winn has been endorsed as a Healthcare Chaplain. Congratulations, Rev. Winn!

Spotlight: Resources on anti-racism

These past two weeks have certainly unveiled racism in America at heightened levels. Saying you are not a racist and being anti-racist are two different concepts. I would like to encourage us to begin to have conversations with our children so that they will grow up in the future America understanding what it means to be anti-racist in America.

Resources for white parents to raise anti-racist children:




As we are educating our children, let us also be informed:

Articles to read:
Videos to watch:
Podcasts to subscribe to:
Books to read:
Films and TV series to watch:
  • 13th (Ava DuVernay)--Netflix
  • American Son (Kenny Leon)--Netflix
  • Black Power Mixtape: 1967-1975--Available to rent
  • Blindspotting (Carlos López Estrada)--Hulu with Cinemax or available to rent
  • Clemency (Chinonye Chukwu)--Available to rent
  • Dear White People (Justin Simien)--Netflix
  • Fruitvale Station (Ryan Coogler)--Available to rent
  • I Am Not Your Negro (James Baldwin documentary)--Available to rent or on Kanopy
  • If Beale Street Could Talk (Barry Jenkins)--Hulu
  • Just Mercy (Destin Daniel Cretton)--Available to rent for free in June in the United States
  • King In the Wilderness--HBO
  • See You Yesterday (Stefon Bristol)--Netflix
  • Selma (Ava DuVernay)--Available to rent
  • The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution--Available to rent
  • The Hate U Give (George Tillman Jr.)--Hulu with Cinemax
  • When They See Us (Ava DuVernay)--Netflix
Organizations to follow on social media:
More anti-racism resources to check out:
Spiritual Caregivers connect in the sacred space 
Join us on the First and Third Thursday evenings in June, July and August at 7 p.m. Eastern Standard Time for a time of prayer, reflections and best practices.

Dial-in Information: 1-669-900-6833, and use meeting ID 2401734843


Events in 2020: 
CE credit is available for all attendees.


Please consider attending your virtual regional meeting in 2020. For more information on regional events and how to be a blessing to your region, please contact your regional executive minister.

American Baptist Chaplaincy and Specialized Ministries

Rev. Dr. Jeffrey Haggray
Executive Director/CEO, American Baptist Home Mission Societies (ABHMS)

Rev. Dr. Patricia Murphy, BCC
American Baptist National Network of Chaplains, Pastoral Counselors & Specialized Ministers 

Ecclesiastical Endorser and ABHMS National Coordinator 
of Chaplaincy and Specialized Ministries
Rev. Dr. Janet R. McCormack, APC/BCC, AAPC/PCE, ACPE/Certified Educator  
Chairperson, Endorsement Committee
Rev. Elizabeth Ritzman, LCPC
President, Ministers Council, Chaplains and Pastoral Counselors Chapter

American Baptist Chaplaincy and Pastoral Counseling Ministries
American Baptist Home Mission Societies