The Chaplain Superintendent
M. Ray Brewer, district superintendent of the Assemblies of God Northern Missouri District, last week became the first district leader to become an endorsed AG U.S. Missions chaplain in the Fellowship.
The impetus to become a chaplain began stirring nearly three decades ago when Brewer sought his doctorate in seminary while on staff at Tiffany Fellowship in Kansas City.
"I took a unit in Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) that revealed my inadequacy in doing hospital ministry," Brewer recalls. "I learned to value the sacredness of everyone's story."
His chaplaincy interest grew further when Manford "Mannie" Craig joined the staff as associate pastor. Craig at the time also served as the first AG chaplain in the federal prison system at nearby Leavenworth, Kansas. How to listen better while being present for people in need of pastoral care proved to be among the skills Brewer honed during more than two decades as senior pastor at Tiffany Fellowship.
The value of chaplaincy struck Brewer further after his election as district superintendent in 2007 as he realized the rural setting of the vast majority of AG churches in northern Missouri.
"It dawned on me that if pastors could serve as chaplains -- in fire departments, in police departments, in hospitals -- they could have a greater impact in their community," Brewer says. He began sponsoring district chaplain summits.
"But I figured if I encouraged district pastors to seek chaplaincy appointment, maybe that's something I should do as well," says Brewer, who has completed two additional CPE units. Each involves 400 hours of classes, peer-to-peer review, working with a supervisor, and hospital-patient interaction. He will complete a fourth unit later this year.
On May 20, the AG Commission on Chaplains endorsed Brewer. He is working with AG minister Richard D. Sullivan, who is head chaplain at Boone Hospital Center in Columbia. Brewer's AG district office is located nearby.
Brewer sees similarities in the life of a pastor and a chaplain.
"A lot of chaplaincy is standing by for a crisis, and I did that when I pastored," Brewer says. "There is a great deal of preaching and teaching preparation in an office, but when an emergency call comes in a pastor must drop everything and go."
Brewer, 61, figures after he retires he will become a full-time hospital chaplain. He has been married to his wife Kim, who works in the district office, since 1976. The couple has two sons, Brandon and Jason, who both work in the medical field.
Alvin F. Worthley, senior director of AG U.S. Missions Chaplaincy Ministries, has known Brewer since the late 1970s -- when Brewer served as youth pastor at Tiffany Fellowship and Worthley attended the church while a chaplain at the federal penitentiary in Leavenworth.
"He has always been full of compassion to the hospitalized and people with special needs," Worthley says. "It's a part of his DNA. If I was in the hospital, I'd love to have him come by."