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Woman believes restoring lives is her call

August 21, 2006|by MARLO BARNHART

HAGERSTOWN - A stay-at-home mom for many years, Sadie Pounder decided to go back to school and become a mental health counselor after she raised her four sons.

After earning her undergraduate degree from Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania and her master's degree in psychological counseling from George Mason University, she put her new skills to work as a mental health counselor at the Adams County Prison for four years.

Then, she said, God got involved and the Harrisburg, Pa., native's life journey was redirected once again.

"I believe it's my call," Pounder, 60, said as she sets her sights on prison ministry.

Now a student at Gettysburg Theological Seminary, Pounder began a yearlong internship in Hagerstown in July.

Half of her time will be spent with St. Mark's Lutheran Church at 501 Washington Ave. The other half belongs to the rather unique ministry known as St. Dysmas, which operates within the Maryland prison system.

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"I used to work in a prison," Pounder said. "I want to go back with the hope that God gives to these people ... to help restore their lives."

While at St. Mark's, Pounder is working under the tutelage of Pastor Dave Kaplan. At St. Dysmas, her mentor is Pastor Bill Lundgren.

"We've had interns before, but it has been a long time," Kaplan said. "With Sadie, it's working out beautifully."

In just her first month, she has preached, worked with the Sunday school program at St. Mark's, visited the homebound and done anything else asked of her, Kaplan said.

"She has a real knack with people, and everyone is very enthusiastic," Kaplan said. "Sadie is a blessing."

The internship is coordinated through the seminary, the bishop and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). During her intern year, Pounder has the title of vicar.

Pounder commutes to Hagerstown from Gettysburg each day. When there is a need to work at night, she stays with a St. Mark's parishioner.

Her husband, Mike, works in Virginia. Their sons range in age from 23 to 35 years old. The Pounders also have eight grandchildren.

"My dream is to be a pastor in prison," Pounder said.

During this intern year, she said she will be establishing a pastoral identity as an enhancement to her mental health identity.

Pounder said she sees her work as a joy and a privilege.

"We always have hope in God," Pounder said.

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