Hi colleagues,

My name is Melanie Childers. I am excited to be co-facilitating this group with the author of our main text, Bert Montgomery. I am an APC board certified chaplain and have served as director of pastoral care for my small regional healthcare system in the mountains of NW North Carolina for the past 21 years. In addition to daily patient care and crisis intervention, I enjoy chairing our ethics committee, coordinating our palliative care program, counseling patients and families in our cancer center, and leading a group in our inpatient behavioral health unit. I have been a member of the Oates Institute for many years.

Specifically related to this course, I also identify as gay. I am married to my partner, Cath, of 9 years, and we live in a small home out in the “country” with our dog and cat. I grew up Southern Baptist and am now ordained and endorsed through the United Church of Christ.

I appreciate what others have shared so far about your interest in this course. And, I’m thankful to the Oates Institute for raising this as an important skill set for ministers and professional chaplains. The contribution I hope to bring is of a person with lived experience as a minority who has felt the sting of rejection and condemnation from churches, denominations, and individuals. I would invite participants to feel free to ask respectful questions in this forum that you do not feel comfortable asking in other venues. I believe it is important to be able to have honest dialogue if we are going to be able to meet each other in a place of grace and love and informed respect. I will do my best to respond in meaningful ways to any questions or scenarios that you raise.

I will be reading Bert’s book along with you all. I look forward to our discussions.