Celebrating Pioneers

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During our annual June conference, we completed our celebration of 75 years of official Chaplaincy and Care ministry. 

Twelve chaplain pioneers shared their stories about the challenges they faced, how they faced them, and what they learned about God, faith, and the Christian life from their experience. Please click here for a brief description of each of the panelists. I had the honor of meeting two pioneers who led the way for my ministry as a chaplain. 

Sini Den Otter was the first female chaplain (non-ordained) who followed the call into ministry in the midst of raising her children. Sini faced many challenges including her Clinical Pastoral Educator who repeatedly critiqued her and challenged her to consider quitting and return to her housewife role. Sini persisted, and in 1989 she was granted ecclesiastical endorsement and appointed as a deacon-at-large for hospital ministry by Third CRC in Edmonton. 

Insoon Hoagland is the first female ordained chaplain, first minority chaplain, and first female military chaplain. Insoon attended Calvin Theological Seminary during a divisive and volatile time while the issue of women in ordained offices was debated. Insoon became a candidate for ministry, and she endured a lengthy and heated discussion on the floor of Synod in 1998. She was finally approved as a candidate for ministry for chaplaincy. Insoon was the first female minister and chaplain that I had ever “met” while I read over The Banner with her picture and story on the front cover. I had the honor of meeting her in person 10 years later at our Chaplains’ Conference.

My calling to ministry had started in high school, blossomed in college and became clearer while in seminary. I am so thankful to these two women who carved out the path for future leaders to follow God’s call to chaplaincy. 

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