The American Baptist Home Mission Societies’ (ABHMS) Office of the Ecclesiastical Endorser presented Central alum, Rev. Joy Freeman '01, BCC, with the American Baptist National Network Merit Award for commitment to effective service as a specialized minister. The ABHMS website said, "Freeman provided excellent leadership during the initial stages of COVID by implementing a care plan that provided spiritual care and support to patients’ families and staff."

The award was presented during the Spiritual Caregivers Conference at Space for Grace 2022 during the inaugural Chaplaincy Luncheon on September 20, 2022, at the Westin Kansas City at Crown Center in Missouri.

Earlier this year, Freeman sat down with Central Seminary staff to share about her path to ministry and the impact of her work today.

As a fourth generation American Baptist ordained pastor, Freeman felt the call to ministry at the age of 10 at church camp. Central was not in her original plans, but as she said, "God has a sense of humor." She continued, “I went directly from college to seminary and felt like a non-traditional student as many students were in the second career. I felt very young and like I didn’t have a clue about anything. But it didn’t matter to my classmates or instructors. I was a part of the community, I was a peer, and that was one of the biggest impacts Central had on me – a sense of community, the importance of community, and what it means to create hospitable and welcoming community.”

After graduation in 2001 with her MDiv, Freeman pursued chaplaincy. While there is much she loves about it, the ability to work will different people at different stages and faith and grief are among her favorite duties. “As Chaplain, I do not just minister to Christians. I minister to people of all faith, no faith and everything in between. As a Chaplain I have to be able to meet them where they are at and connect with their spiritual resources. Chaplaincy is a lot of respectful curiosity.”

After being asked how she stays positive among so much hurt and grief, and how does she not bring her own hurt and grief to work, she said, “When you are at your lowest, you will do your best ministry. When you are at your lowest and dealing and when you are hurting and dealing with your own stuff, you are closer to your patients suffering and struggle than the days when life is great. Those moments you step out of your own way, and you let “God”, “Divine” or whatever you call that thing that has called you to this ministry, step into that gap.”

Joy Freeman serves as Chaplain at North Kansas City Hospital.

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