Extension Ministry: Rev. Mary Brumley, Hospital Chaplain

By Barry Steiner Ball

Rev. Mary Brumley, an ordained elder and member of the West Virginia Annual Conference, serves as an extension minster as a chaplain for Grant Medical Center in Columbus Ohio.  Chaplain Brumley grew up in the Charleston area  and felt a call into ministry during high school, but really did not understand it.  At that time in Ch. Brumley’s mind, an ordained minister preached and taught.  She was not aware of the pastoral care side of ministry.

While attending Marshall with the plan of being a teacher, Ch. Brumley experienced the pastoral care side of ministry through her participation with  their United Methodist Student group, which was led by Rev. Jim McCune and later by Rev. Suzanne Ellis. Ch. Brumley’s call was nurtured and affirmed while she attended Marshall.  While at Marshall, Ch. Brumley attended “Exploration,” an event hosted by the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, which guides young adults on a path towards church leadership which really clarified Ch. Brumley’s call to ordained ministry. 

After graduation from Marshall Ch. Brumley traveled to Atlanta to attend Candler School of Theology.  The plan early on at Candler was to work towards being ordained an elder and serving a local church in West Virginia.  Again, Ch. Brumley’s plans changed when she took a course called Contextual Education.  In this course, Ch. Brumley would be assigned to work in a ministry setting.  When the assignments came out and Ch. Brumley discovered that she was assigned to Emory University Hospital, she fought the assignment because she just knew she never wanted to work in a hospital and this semester would just be a waste of time!  God had other plans.

After a semester of unexpectedly loving the work of a hospital chaplain came a summer of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) internship at a children’s hospital in Atlanta. She had found her calling.  Graduation from Candler led to a residency program at Emory University Hospital, working specifically in the surgical care area.  It was during this period that Ch. Brumley learned the importance of caring for the hospital staff that she worked with every day.  The plan now was to return to West Virginia to be a hospital chaplain near home.  God had other plans.

A chaplain’s job opened in Savannah, GA, at Candler Hospital (not related to Candler School of Theology, but both are named after the same man who invented Coca-Cola and just happened to be Methodist!).  While working full time, Ch. Brumley was also working on her ordination process (often driving to West Virginia to participate in residency), becoming board certified as a chaplain and working to be endorsed through the United Methodist Endorsing Agency as a chaplain.  All of these milestones were met, but six years of Savannah heat was just too much for a mountain girl, so the plan was to head home.  God had other plans…sort of.

Ch. Brumley was offered a staff chaplain’s position at Grant Medical Center in Columbus, Ohio (the third United Methodist Hospital for Ch. Brumley to work in).  Grant Medical Center is a level I trauma center, so there is never a dull moment.  Ch. Brumley has been assigned as the Critical Care Chaplain giving her responsibility over the Intensive Care Unit and the Critical Care Unit.  Because the patients in these units are often unresponsive, much of Ch. Brumley’s time is spent with the families of patients, often contacting them by phone before they even arrive at the hospital, meeting them upon arrival, and standing with them as the storms of life rage.  The staff also receives a great deal of attention from Ch. Brumley.  Their day-to-day work, with the added stress of Covid, leaves them exhausted and looking for hope.  Ch. Brumley sees the staff as her full-time congregation. 

Ch. Brumley stands and prays with and for families as they make the hardest decisions one can imagine.  One of those decisions is if a dying patient will be an organ donor.  Ch. Brumley works with the family and Lifeline of Ohio to calm the storm long enough to make such an important decision.  As a matter of fact, Ch. Brumley was named Chaplain of the Year for Lifeline of Ohio with her citation reading:

Mary Brumley
2019 Chaplain of the Year
OhioHealth Grant Medical Center

Chaplain Brumley is a champion of donation at OhioHealth Grant Medical Center. She was instrumental in a key case where a patient’s family needed to be located to have a conversation on donation. She diligently worked through the weekend to locate the family and facilitate a donation discussion with Lifeline of Ohio. Through her dedication and hard work, three lives were saved.

To make the circle of United Methodism complete, Ch. Brumley serves on the design team for “Exploration” – the very event that helped her hear her call into ordained ministry years ago!

How we can pray for Ch. Brumley: Pray for strength and guidance for herself and all workers in health care, that in their chaotic spaces they may provide care for people as best they can.

If your interest was sparked, here is more information:

Spiritual Care through Ohio Health


Lifeline of Ohio