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Brook Lane chaplain leaving area for more traditional congregation

February 15, 2008|By MARLO BARNHART

LEITERSBURG - After 16 years as chaplain at Brook Lane, Deryl Fleming is trading his rather unique "congregation" for a more traditional one in Burke, Va.

"One of the good differences being a chaplain in a hospital setting is that you are no longer the CEO, like the pastor is of a church," Fleming said. "If there was an emergency at Brook Lane, they'd call CEO Lynn Rushing or the doctors, not me."

Before working at Brook Lane, Fleming was pastor of a church for 28 years where he was on call around the clock.

Fleming, 70, said he is leaving Brook Lane with ambivalent feelings, but he wanted to cut back to a 20-hour work week and trim his commute from Northern Virginia.

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His commute to the Presbyterian Church in Burke, Va., will be only 15 to 20 minutes.

"But I also wanted to do something with meaning," Fleming said.

When Fleming came to Brook Lane in 1991, he was asked to expand chaplain services beyond the adult patients to the children and adolescents associated with the hospital.

"I also worked to enlarge our role as a refuge for pastors," Fleming said.

To that end, he set up annual clergy seminars, casual book discussions, and worked closely with ministeriums and other clergy groups in the area.

Fleming said pastors rarely have anyone to go to, so he offered a safe place for them that was nondenominational and completely confidential.

"Who reassures the reassurers?" he asked.

Fleming also kept his sermon skills honed at the hospital.

"I did a few memorials and a couple of weddings for Brook Lane staff, too," he said.

Fleming said he saw his job at Brook Lane mainly as a ministry of presence, especially with people in mental health crises.

"I try to be with them," he said. "You don't try to take them somewhere, but you walk with them as they go there."

Fleming grew up in Texas but has lived in Northern Virginia for 33 years, with a three-year residency in Hagerstown among those years.

He is married with two adult children, a stepson and a granddaughter.

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