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Master of Ministry, Rev. Greta Wagner retired in April

Rev. Greta Wagner retired in April as director of pastoral care and Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) at United Church Homes’ Trinity Community. Her innovative spirit lives on in the vibrant life of Trinity Community in Beavercreek, Ohio.

Rev. Greta is among 600 pastoral educators certified by the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education (ACPE). She was brought on board with UCH in September 2013 to implement the vision of Rev. Kenneth Daniel, United Church Homes president and CEO, for CPE in Trinity’s life plan community. Experiencing Trinity’s wise residents, the organizational vision of creating abundant life for those served and the collaborative Trinity team led by Laura Farrell, LHNA, she knew that Trinity was poised to nurture a robust CPE program in a nontraditional CPE setting.

Rev. Greta received a President’s Award of Distinction for her leadership and innovation from Rev. Daniel during a retirement celebration April 5. 

“Greta Wagner was the right person at the right time to develop and launch our Clinical Pastoral Education program,” Rev. Daniel said. “She has the dedication and passion for the mission of CPE. Many of our students have stated that this program literally changed the direction of their lives personally and professionally.”

Under Rev. Greta’s leadership, in December 2013, ACPE granted Trinity CPE status as a satellite of the Sisters of Charity Health System. Trinity attained status as an ACPE Center in its own right in May 2016. 

As CPE director and certified educator of eight CPE units at Trinity, Rev. Greta supervised 33 CPE graduates. A creative CPE curriculum to develop pastoral identity and authority included each student’s enactment of a pastoral image project. Rev. Greta identified her own pastoral image of a “midwife” as a CPE educator and instrumental presence with her students. 

“As a midwife, I am aware it is up to the student and God to decide what will be birthed,” Rev. Greta said.

CPE students serve as chaplain interns who learn to provide effective, empathic pastoral care. They learn the art of pastoral preaching and leading worship services attuned to spiritual needs of older adults. 

Rev. Dale Brown, a board-certified chaplain, serves in the program to provide pastoral mentoring for CPE students.  

Rev. Greta’s education, professional experience and call to ordained ministry have been creatively wrought. She observed excellent long-term care for older adults during her childhood. Her Aunt Tats, a registered nurse, owned and directed the Healy Nursing Home in a Victorian home in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, suburbs. A welcoming, immaculate environment reflected the exquisite care provided each resident. Her Aunt Tats’ hospitality and inclusion extended to fair employment of women who served as nurses, aides, housekeepers and cooks. 

Rev. Greta earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing in 1970, actively serving as a registered nurse for 17 years. In 1986, she earned a master’s degree in religious studies in Philadelphia. She received her Master of Divinity degree in 1991 from Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary. In 1990, she was called as the first female associate pastor of First Baptist in Lima, Ohio, where she was ordained March 10, 1991. Upon completion of four units of CPE, Rev. Greta was endorsed for specialized ministry as a professional chaplain in 1997. She served as an ICU and open-heart chaplain at St. Rita’s Medical Center, Lima, and regional director of spirituality, ACPE supervisory education student and ACPE-certified associate supervisor for Geisinger Health System. Greta was granted full status as an ACPE-certified supervisor/educator in May 2014. 

When Rev. Greta began her position at Trinity, her goals — all of which were accomplished — were ambitious. Her aspirations were to: 

  • Establish creative CPE programs in an innovative, nontraditional setting;
  • Offer seminary students, pastors and those discerning the call to ministry opportunities to develop pastoral competence in long-term pastoral relationships (rarely possible in CPE hospital-based programs);
  • Prepare CPE students to wholeheartedly and vulnerably engage others in ways meaningful to the recipient of pastoral care;
  • Be an advocate for the spiritual care of older adults, an increasingly marginalized population within and beyond the church;
  • Invite students to rigorously participate in self-reflective learning, equipping for their futures within and beyond congregations; and
  • Support United Church Homes’ commitment to foster ministry in the church.

Rev. Greta has seen her ministries make a difference, reflecting on the impact of Council for Health and Human Service Ministries (CHHSM) of the United Church of Christ. Introduced to CHHSM in 2015, Greta was inspired by President and CEO Mike Readinger’s inaugural address, which led her to seek and receive UCC recognition of her ordained ministry.

Rev. Greta’s greatest joys are her daughters and their families: Beth (Bob) Sokolowski, of Collegeville, Pennsylvania, and their daughter, Ana, 17; and Jacqui (Brad) Schlachter, of Findlay, Ohio, and their children, Blake, 6, and Macie, 4. She loves being known to her family as “Muzzy,” an Irish grandmother.

Rev. Greta concludes her tenure with Trinity’s well-organized CPE program with deep fulfillment for the opportunity to collaboratively establish a solid foundation for Clinical Pastoral Education. During the 2017-18 CPE extended unit graduation ceremony, Rev. Greta was recognized by UCH Vice President of Advancement and Communications Gloria T. Hurwitz, chair of the Professional Advisory Group, for her “cascading excellence.” 

Rev. Greta is looking forward to pursuing her lifelong love of learning in a Doctor of Ministry program at Ecumenical Theological Seminary in Detroit. Pastorally, Rev. Greta is anxious to see the new ways transformative learning will evolve in Trinity’s CPE program as an accredited Center of ACPE, the gold standard for spiritual care and education.


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