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Free Methodist Chaplain's Association


August 2020

COVID-19 Ministry Unconfined!

From Tim and Patricia Porter, Co-Directors 

We imagine you are growing weary as the COVID threat continues to drag on and on and on … Although we might be confined to our homes, restricted in our movements, cautious in crowds, or now own a growing assortment of mismatched masks, as God’s servants, the good news is that the virus cannot keep us from continuing to impact our world for Christ. 

The Apostle Paul wrote, “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.  And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains.  Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should (Colossians 4:2-4).” When Paul penned this letter, he was confined to prison and restricted in movement, however, this didn’t keep him from making a difference right from his prison cell. First, he writes, “be thankful.” Why be thankful? Despite the continuous flow of bad news around us, the Holy Spirit is at work within us, and in the lives of those we support with spiritual care. Being thankful is a way to lift our spirits emotionally as we acknowledge what the Lord is doing through our ministries and around the world. Additionally, the proclamation of the mystery of Christ is not confined! 

We still have opportunities to share the hope we have in Christ in our workplace, home, and with those in our community through many different methods and means. We can show the world that hope is not found in economic prosperity, elite healthcare systems, or in life’s successes but only in Christ is our true hope found! Finally, because our God is sovereign, COVID cannot keep us from being filled with anticipation that better days are on the horizon as we are promised an inheritance in heaven which can never be shaken by world events, and this is our primary motivation to persevere through this present trial.

As we have visited with many of you by phone or e-mail in the midst of COVID, it is evident that the Lord is definitely at work in your ministry settings. Many of our chaplains are providing spiritual support to medical caregivers, patients, and their families. 

Thank you, chaplains, for all your hard work!!  We appreciate you!!

Videos and Stories from the Frontline

Hospice Chaplain Diane Munoz (New South Conference), interview with WKYTTV. 
“Missing human touch?  Lexington chaplain says everyone does, especially seniors”.
Hospital Chaplain Rick Kerr (The River Conference)
at St. Luke’s Medical Center ICU in Boise, ID.

“Glimpse of Heaven”

by Kathy Petteys of the Genesis Conference

Right before COVID-19 hit our country, God gave me an amazing experience with one of the patients in the nursing home where I minister in PA.  I became a chaplain with Heritage Ministries in May 2018.  As a new chaplain, I wanted to get to know the caregivers (all staff are referred to as caregivers) as well as the elders.  I noticed an elder who appeared to eat alone most of the time.  I asked her if I could join her for lunch one day.  This started a weekly time of having Sunday lunches together.  She shared her story and I shared mine with her.  

We prayed together, laughed together and my little dog, Coco, brought her much joy. My new friend regularly attended church services on Sunday and the mid-week Bible study. From time to time, I would stop in her room on my rotation just to chat and see how she was doing.  Around the holidays in 2019, my friend took a turn for the worse. One Sunday in early winter I was driving to work and received a text message from one of the activities caregivers saying that I needed to go see this particular elder as soon as I arrived because she was actively passing away.  As soon as I arrived, I went to see my friend.  I leaned down to her calling her name letting her know I was present.  My friend woke up and said to me; “Kathy, He is beautiful, He is so beautiful!  I can walk again, and I am in no pain.”  She seemed to drift off to sleep but woke again and said to me, “Kathy, I want to thank you for bringing me back to Him.” 

What a privilege it was that Jesus allowed me to be a part of my friend’s “Thin Place” - that place where heaven and earth seem to come close together.  This resident went home to be with Jesus just a few days later.  I will see her again. For all of you reading this story I want to encourage you that you do not have to be a chaplain to minister to people in a nursing home.  Just go, pray with them, listen to them, love them, have lunch with them, share your story with them and most of all, share the story of Jesus. In the words of my friend, “He is beautiful, He is so beautiful!” 


Dr. Chaplain (Lt Col) Rex (Louise) Carpenter (Genesis Conference) retired on June 30, 2020, as the Director/Endorsing Agent for the FMCA. Rex and Louise initially served in the Genesis Conference as a pastor for 13 years, then as a chaplain in USAF for 24 years, and finally as the FMCUSA Director of Chaplain Ministries and Endorsing Agent for 13 years, for a total of 50 years of faithful ministry! 

Rex and Louise have greatly expanded the FMCA over the 13-year period
with the second-longest tenure in the history of the chaplaincy program. Only the “Father of FM Chaplains,” Bishop Marston, served longer with 21 years of service from 1941-1962.   

Bishop Cowart presented Rex and Louise with a plaque for their years of faithful service, and the FMCA presented them with a Thomas Kinkade painting called “Walk of Faith” depicting Jesus walking with Peter in an Emmaus Road-like setting. It is symbolic of how Jesus (The Carpenter) will continue to walk with the Carpenters in their retirement, how the Carpenters have walked alongside the chaplains, and finally how the chaplains walk alongside their people representing Jesus. May the Lord continue to bless them as they will be “retired but ACTIVE”! 

Chaplain, LTC Rick (Lesa) Winchester, USA (New South Conference) entered the Army Reserve as a Private in October 1980. While working on his B.A., he served as a pastor of a 4-point church charge for the Methodist Church. In 1994 he enrolled at Asbury Theological Seminary. While completing his seminary education he entered the U.S. Army Chaplain Candidate Program where he served as a chaplain in the Army National Guard. Following graduation, he returned to North Carolina where he served as pastor for two different church appointments.

Chaplain Winchester returned to active duty serving three times as a Battalion Chaplain. In 2005 he was selected for Clinical Pastoral Education, Fort Gordon, GA with a follow-on assignment to Fort Gordon, Dwight David Eisenhower Army Medical Center as Chaplain Clinician. Upon promotion to Major, he was assigned to United States Army Special Operations Command, Fort Bragg, NC. Follow on assignments included Special Operations Command HQ, then assigned to Chaplain Center and School as Chief of Individual Military Training, Fort Jackson, SC. Following this, he was assigned to two successive Command Chaplain positions at Ft. Bragg, NC. 

His deployments include three times to Afghanistan and once to Iraq. Chaplain Winchester has been awarded many medals over the years including the prestigious Bronze Star.  Rick shares that the most fulfilling aspect of chaplaincy was supporting soldiers as they were healing from wounds received in combat, the loss of their peers, and honoring soldiers who gave their lives for something greater than themselves.  Rick and Lesa have two children Jessica (37), Benjamin (34), and 5 grandchildren. They are currently enjoying some time off after 40 years of service. They plan to continue ministry through community volunteer service with the hope of returning to a chaplain position in the near future.

Congratulations to CDR Chaplain Stephen (Laura) Coates, USN (Gateway Conference) who currently serves at the Naval Chaplaincy School and Center (Newport, RI) as Head of the Training Department. He teaches the Advanced Leadership Course for all Navy Chaplains who are selected for promotion to the rank of Commander (O5). He also serves as the Course Supervisor for all of the School’s courses -- for all Navy Chaplains and all enlisted Religious Program Specialists. In May, Chaplain Coates was selected for promotion to the rank of Captain (CAPT - O6). In addition, the Board meritoriously reordered him to the top of the list for first promotion. Stephen and his wife, Laura, are currently awaiting orders for their initial assignment as an O6.

Congratulations to Victor Toney (Lt Col USAF Retired) (Ohio Conference) who has been promoted as temporary Chief of Chaplain Services at Cincinnati VA Medical Center, OH.

Training Collaboration with the Free Methodist Medical Fellowship

"Free Methodist Medical Fellowship and Free Methodist Chaplains Association Virtual Conference" details:

When: Sep 19, 2020, 12:00 PM Eastern Time (the US and Canada)
Topic: "Holistic Health Care in the Midst of Coronavirus Crisis."

The following FMCA chaplains will be presenting:

Rev. Larry Lyons from the Southern Michigan Conference. 

Rev. Kathy Petteys from the Genesis Conference.
Rev. Richard Reynolds from the Pacific Northwest Conference.
Rev. Rick Kerr from the River Conference. 

For more info:

We look forward to bringing updates, stories, and celebrating milestones with you!

Always feel free to send news, stories, photos, and videos to Tim and Patricia Porter, Co-directors of the Free Methodist Chaplain's Association:  and

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