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Hagerstown pastor has had multifaceted career

October 24, 2008|By MARLO BARNHART

HAGERSTOWN -- Director of Pastoral Care at Western Maryland Hospital Center since mid-July, the Rev. Richard W. Bower is still getting to know his "congregation."

And he calls it that because he has realized that his chaplaincy is an extension of his church ministry.

"It's like a built-in parish," Bower said.

This week is Pastoral Care Week and a perfect time to let people know exactly what duties and responsibilities chaplains have in a variety of settings, Bower said.

With his widely diverse employment history, Bower is an example of the multifaceted nature of the calling.

Born in Carlisle, Pa., Bower, 61, earned degrees in biology and medical technology from Lebanon Valley College. Additionally, he earned his master of divinity in urban ministry from the Alliance Theological Seminary in 1987.

Fully qualified in both the chaplain and medical service corps in the U.S. Army, Bower also is a graduate of the Command and General Staff Course at West Point.

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"I've had ministries in churches, the military and institutions," Bower said. "All are different, but theology, medicine and psychology have been a marvelous integration for me."

Even while a patient at Walter Reed Hospital for injuries he received in Iraq, Bower got to minister to other patients there.

Bower retired from active duty military service a year ago with 30 years of service.

In his civilian life, he has been an ordained minister for 22 years and still holds his registry with The American Society of Clinical Pathologists.

"I've served people from Boise to Brooklyn," Bower said. "It really has opened my vision."

Bower has been married for 40 years to Shirley Ann and they have three children - Christal Lynn, Amanda Mae and Abigail Joy - and six grandchildren.

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