Importance of Community Chaplains

Rev. Beth Rodenhouse, Rev. Erin McCreight, Rev. Catherine Lawrence, Rev. Sandy Hutchinson (back row, left to right) Rev. Becky King, Rev. Dale Brown, Rev. Dr. Robert Smitley, Rev. Greta Wagner, Rev. Hannah Niday (front row, left to right)

Providing spiritual care and comfort for people who are experiencing life’s difficulties, and having trained and credentialed pastors present and available when residents, families, friends and staff struggle with illness, grief, loss, or pain.

That’s one way to describe what makes United Church Homes different and distinctive. We believe that quality of life — and with it a healthy approach to aging — stems from addressing an individual’s physical, emotional, AND spiritual needs.
We call this concept wholeness. Our mission is to build a culture where wholeness is both visible and viable.

After recently adding four new chaplains — all of whom are ordained and endorsed by the church — UCH now employs full-time chaplains at all of its healthcare communities in Ohio. In addition to having backgrounds in patient and family care settings, all UCH chaplains bring clinical pastoral education (CPE) training and experience to their positions. CPE provides a framework that emphasizes the actual practice of ministry with people of all faiths with pastoral supervision, self-reflection, and the support of peers in small groups.

Our chaplains have well-developed skills in spiritual direction, grief counseling, crisis intervention, and spiritual wellness. Whether they share their gifts by praying with folks or simply being a sounding-board, the intent is to help people heal emotionally or regain a sense of spiritual well-being. UCH continues to invest in people that are passionate about personalized care and ministry, and focused on the whole person, regardless of their faith.

At Parkvue Community in Sandusky, our new chaplain is Rev. Catherine Lawrence, who most recently served for seven years as pastor of Zion United Church of Christ, Fireside, in Bellevue. After earning her Master of Divinity degree at the Methodist Theological School in Ohio, she was ordained in December 2008, with full standing in the Northwest Ohio Association of the Ohio Conference of the United Church of Christ. She also served on the Board of Directors for United Church Homes for four years.

Rev. Hannah Niday is now the chaplain at Four Winds Community in Jackson. Hannah most recently completed her chaplaincy residency at the Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky. She also worked at the VA Medical Center in Washington, D.C. She is currently working toward board certification. Hannah earned her Master of Divinity degree in 2015 from Wesley Theological Seminary. She is ordained through the Alliance of Baptists, accompanied by an Ecclesiastical Endorsement.

Harmar Place and Glenwood Community in Marietta welcome

Rev. Erin McCreight to their teams. Erin previously worked as a chaplain for Harbor Light Hospice in Akron. She completed her CPE internship at the VA Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee, and her CPE residency in South Carolina. Erin earned her Master of Divinity degree at Vanderbilt Divinity School in 2010.

Rev. Dr. Robert Smitley is the interim chaplain at Trinity Community at Fairborn (formerly Patriot Ridge). With over 30 years of ordained ministry serving churches in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Illinois, Bob is no stranger to spiritual care. He has earned his Master of Divinity degree from Northern Baptist Theological Seminary, and a Doctorate of Philosophy degree from Emmanuel Baptist University. Bob was ordained into the Gospel Ministry at the Chicago Metropolitan Association of the Illinois Conference United Church of Christ, and has been in full standing with the Southwest Ohio/Northern Kentucky Association of the Ohio Conference of the United Church of Christ since 2011.

Compassionate caring, including a focus on spiritual care, is a cornerstone of what United Church Homes does every day. It is our mission to transform aging by building a culture of community, wholeness, and peace. For more on pastoral care and the chaplains in UCH communities, please contact Rev. Beth Long-Higgins, director of outreach and mission integration, at

Our mission is to build a culture where wholeness is both visible and viable.