Hagerstown woman changed her religion and career

August 01, 2008|By MARLO BARNHART

HAGERSTOWN -- When Nancy Jenkins became the minister of congregational care at First Christian Church in Hagerstown on July 1, she brought an interesting background with her.

"I was Jewish and a physical therapist in my other life," Jenkins said.

Baptized in the Disciples of Christ in 1998, Jenkins said she was attracted to the denomination because members are encouraged to explore their beliefs, something she has been doing all her life.

"You are asked if you accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior," Jenkins said. "That is the only requirement."

Now 63 with three grown children and three grandchildren, Jenkins said her decision to change her life's direction wasn't easy.

"I had left my church, a job I loved and given up a home at the beach to go into the seminary," Jenkins said.

A passion for her new calling and a love of reading sent her to Vanderbilt Divinity School in Nashville, Tenn.


Jenkins grew up in North Carolina. She was ordained in 2007 at First Christian Church in Atlanta.

While chaplain at Memorial Hospital in Savannah, Ga., Jenkins learned of the opening at the Hagerstown church and threw her hat in the ring.

From 27 applicants, the field was narrowed to four. That led to a telephone interview with the search committee.

"That went well and I got a call to come for an in-person interview," Jenkins said.

Jenkins believes she got the job because of her "gifts," which include visitation of shut-ins and hospital patients, short-term counseling and work with the bereaved.

"This is a wonderful denomination," Jenkins said. "This church has members all along the spectrum, which makes for some great discussions ... listening without judging."

Since starting, Jenkins said people have been introducing themselves to her. Members also have been going with her to meet with shut-ins.

"I have a lot of enthusiasm for this work. ... It's a team effort," she said, mentioning that she is putting together a congregational care team.

First Christian Church is at 1345 Potomac Ave. in Hagerstown.

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