New Faces in Chaplaincy: March 2020
March 25, 2020
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Chaplaincy and Care Ministry has recently endorsed three new chaplains: Anthony Matias, James Kim, and Marcia Fairrow. Join us in welcoming them!
Hello all my brothers and sisters in Christ. My name is Anthony Matias and I was born and raised in New Jersey and in the CRC. My background is Latino/Hispanic from a Puerto-Rican Father and a Guatemalan Mother. I received my Bachelor's in Arts (Philosophy) from William Paterson University in Wayne, NJ and my Master's in Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton, NJ.
The best word that can describe me is "Advocate." Whether it was helping my mother connect with employers' through language barrier, or my local Latino CRC church connecting with Classis, or my various friendships from around the world acclimating to the United States; since I was very young I tried to build bridges.
As a second generation Latino in the U.S., I live in two worlds: American and Hispanic. Both identify who I am, yet I am not one or the other. The great and difficult challenge of being a hybrid is that I have been enriched by the vast cultures that made me who I am but will always be seen as "other."
As a Chaplain, the feeling of being "other" is something that is reality for many and one that I proudly journey with my patients and church. I hold to the words of our Lord Jesus Christ in John 10:16: "They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd." Though there is much diversity, we are all called to listen to the voice of our only Shepherd, and become one flock.
It has been quite a journey to become a professional chaplain. After graduating from Calvin Theological Seminary, I have served three CRC churches since 2006. My family and I moved to New York to plant a church in response to God’s call through Resonate Global Mission in the CRC in 2017. With God’s blessings, the church has grown a bit with nine regular visitors at our home church, expecting to grow in numbers.
Then all my plans and heart entirely shattered when my mother took her life. Grief comes with fear, pain, and anger. I didn’t want to be healed nor restored. Yet the surge of His grace overwhelmed us again while we went to church on mother’s day. Indeed, it was irresistible. The experience of His grace has intensified through CPE education at Upstate Medical University (Rev. Roelofs guided me to find CPE institution). With the financial support from the Chaplaincy and Care Ministry of the CRC, I took three CPE units and will be taking CPE unit 4 this summer to be a Board Certified Chaplain.
I’m currently working at a Psychiatric Center as its coordinating chaplain to oversee 30 different weekly religious activities, and to provide pastoral care & education for the employees. Church planting is slow, yet moving forward with some activities including preaching at local CRC & RCA churches and joining a monthly multiethnic youth meeting.
I am married to a beautiful woman who is a dialysis nurse. We have two beautiful children, seeking the meaning of life in their college education. My wife and I love to spend our spare time together at a local bookstore, flipping the magazines, exchanging lovely small talk while sipping hot coffee. We recently bought a Bluetooth Karaoke microphone, which brings lots of giggles and fun. Yes, His grace is always sufficient for us.
I grew up a GRITS (Girl Raised In The South) and have proudly become Seasoned GRITS (Grandma Raised In The South). I have finally become so comfortable in my own skin, accepting all the dysfunctions of the past and moving onward as God guides my daily steps.
I am still in awe of how Chaplaincy has done so much more for me than I could ever do for it. Five years ago, I started working as a chaplain at Beaumont Hospital in Grosse Pointe, MI. I was very excited going into the interview but that was quickly squashed because I was not qualified (I only had one unit of CPE). I was called back to continue the interview the very next morning, changes were made to the qualifications and I was hired. Let’s just say that being young, gifted, and black was favorable for such a time as this. I still thank God for working this out.
Doing my first unit of CPE was a requirement for ordination and the most uncomfortable thing I’ve ever done in my life. I was thrilled beyond words to have that end. That was ten years ago. Now chaplaincy is my comfort zone and I can’t imagine doing anything else with my time.
I completed my MDIV at Ecumenical Theological Seminary (ETS) in downtown Detroit, was ordained in the UCC church in 2011, and started my work as a hospital chaplain in 2015. I am forever grateful to my family at First Christian Reformed Church of Detroit and my pastor, Ben Van Arragon, for all the love and support they have shown me and my family through this process.
There is an old spiritual that says, “God is blessing me right now, oh right now.” I have realized that that hymn is appropriate for me each minute of each day. Thank you for your welcome.
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