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Baker hopes to add volunteers in his new post

June 11, 2007|by MARLO BARNHART

HAGERSTOWN - As he settles in as director of religious services and spiritual care at Washington County Hospital, David C. Baker hopes to increase the number of volunteers and professionals engaged in this vital outreach.

"This job will allow me to do more education and training," Baker said. "My vision is to expand the spiritual care program and to have us do more pastoral visitation with patients and staff."

Since taking over the post in February from Cherie Baker, who is no relation, Baker has introduced a training program and currently has three students.

"The course is 400 hours," Baker said. "Patient visitation is 300 of those hours. This rigorous course is required for ordination."

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With a paid staff of four plus a devoted group of volunteers - all of whom are "in the trenches" every day - Baker also has student interns who do their course work during off hours when they aren't working at their regular jobs.

At Washington County Hospital, Baker describes the work of his department as very ecumenical. "We serve Christians, Jews, Muslims, Bahai and all others," Baker said.

He encourages other clergy from all faiths to volunteer to join in the ministry at the hospital.

In his spare time, Baker, 55, is pastor of St. Peter's (Beard's) Lutheran Church on Old Forge Road outside of Hagerstown. He and his wife, Greta, live in Pennsylvania.

A native of Ontario, Canada, Baker completed his undergraduate studies at Concordia Senior College in Indiana. His master's degree of divinity was earned at the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Saskatchewan, Canada.

Ordained in 1978, Baker served a number of congregations while working on his doctorate in human development and family science from Texas Tech University.

He has taught, published articles and done research on the impact of pastoral care on the quality of life in older adults. Since 2003, Baker has been director of pastoral care at Western Maryland Hospital Center in Hagerstown.

While he feels sad to leave that position, he said he nonetheless feels good about the move.

"I'm very excited about this position," Baker said. "I feel I am in the right place at the right time."

For more information about spiritual care services at Washington County Hospital, call 301-790-8146.

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