Extension Ministry: Rev. Margaret Carr

By Barry Steiner Ball

Chaplain Margaret (Margie) Carr is an Elder in Full Connection with the West Virginia Annual Conference who serves as a chaplain for Valley Hospice in northern West Virginia and part of eastern Ohio. Margie comes to this calling naturally being named after Rev. Margaret Marshall (a family friend and Director of Scott’s Run Settlement House, ordained an Elder in 1962) and growing up with her father, Rev. Marvin Carr, serving local churches and then serving in extension ministry himself as Associate Professor of Christian Education at West Virginia Wesleyan. Margie’s mother, Sarah (a Deaconess and Church and Community Worker) was also a significant spiritual influence in her life. Margie lived in parsonages in Morgantown and Philippi but spent most of her formative years in Buckhannon. Active in First U.M. in Buckhannon, Rev. Heather Murray Elkins was appointed as the Associate Pastor. Seeing a woman in the pulpit was important to Margie, and a seed was planted. Not wondering far from home, Margie attended West Virginia Wesleyan earning degrees in Communications/English/Dramatic Arts.

On reflection, Margie admits that with her new diploma and her whole life in front of her it was time to run from God’s calling! A friend from Wesleyan who lived in the Boston area asked Margie to come along and be a roommate. Surely God could not find Margie in Boston. With few job offers in Boston, Margie worked as a waitress and AAA, and finally landed an administrative job at Harvard University.

During these years Margie also volunteered as a youth leader, sang in the choir, and was very involved at a local U.M. Church in Watertown. Still ignoring God’s call, Margie began to realize that she was spending more time at her church than at her 9 – 5 job at Harvard. Attending a friend’s ordination service in New England, the call came loud and clear during that worship experience.

Not sure at all where this call was leading, yet wanting something more than how she was then serving, Margie entered Harvard Divinity School. Margie recalls how she enjoyed the wide variety of faith traditions she encountered at Harvard and how her faith was enriched and drew her closer to God, by being in community with fellow students and professors. Not sure where God was leading her after graduation, Margie received a call from Rev. Dale Waters, who was serving Bridgeport UMC (and Margie’s sister, Sarah Carr, was serving as Music Director) told her it was time to come home and serve as Bridgeport’s Associate Pastor, and Margie answered the call to “come home”.

While serving at Bridgeport, Margie began the ordination process and was ordained an Elder in 1995. Margie saw an advertisement in the conference newspaper for the position of Campus Pastor at West Liberty State College. This sparked Margie’s interest as she loved the academic environment of Higher Education, and she took her first extension appointment at West Liberty. Thirteen years later, feeling a nudge for a change, Margie accepted a position as Associate Pastor at Christ UMC in Wheeling. In this position Margie came to realize that her gifts and passion were in the area of pastoral care. She also discovered that she was very comfortable around the process of death and dying, which she realizes many people in church and society are not. When the position of chaplain for Valley Hospice became available, God’s call was loud and clear and it was a very natural move for Margie.

As a Hospice Chaplain, Margie is charged with the spiritual care of dying persons. This means determining what the patient’s faith tradition (or no tradition) is, how involved their faith community is, what support the patient would want, along with supporting the Hospice interdisciplinary team. This can mean that Margie prays with, anoints, holds hands, reads scripture with the patient or that patient

can say, “no thank you I don’t need your services.” No two patients are the same. The goal for a Hospice chaplain is to help a patient to have a peaceful death, as the patient desired it and to help deal with unfinished end-of-life business.

Each day begins with a phone call where the Hospice team discusses any overnight deaths, new admissions, or special pressing needs. From this call Margie schedules her day and begins her travels answering God’s call on her life, offering peace to the final stages of life.

Naturally, a part of this ministry is also focused on the family/care-givers of the dying person and helping them deal with the dying process. When death does occur, Margie must move on to other dying patients and turn the care of the family over to their faith community and/or the Hospice bereavement specialists.

Margie said we can pray for all those working in Health Care in these pandemic days, as they need renewal, strength and courage for facing each day. She also said she welcomes prayers for peace for all who work with death and dying in their ministry, as they extend peace to others.

Margie currently works with two other chaplains, a Catholic Priest and Rev. Debra Dague, who was our first extension minister interviewed for this series and who was also serving as Campus Pastor at West Liberty State College! Proof that God calls, and continues to call all of us to new and challenging ministries. Margie gives thanks for all the church experiences and mentors in faith that led her to her calling today. Where is God calling you?

Want to know more?

https://wvwc.edu/ West Virginia Wesleyan College
https://hds.harvard.edu/ Harvard Divinity School
https://www.valleyhospice.org/ Valley Hospice