July 21, 2020
By Aaron Weaver and Jeff Huett
DECATUR, Ga. — A Cooperative Baptist Fellowship-endorsed healthcare chaplain with more than 20 years of experience meeting the unique spiritual, religious and cultural needs of patients, their families and healthcare providers has been named as CBF’s Chaplaincy and Pastoral Counseling Ministries Director.
Renée Lloyd Owen will begin her work at CBF on August 17.
Owen currently serves as the executive director of spiritual health for the Wellstar Health System in Marietta, Ga. In that role, she oversees the provision of spiritual care for 11 hospitals, two hospices, multiple outpatient settings, long-term acute care facilities, skilled nursing facilities and retirement centers.
She earned a Master of Divinity from Duke Divinity School and her undergraduate degree from Campbell University.
Owen is only the third person in nearly 20 years to lead CBF’s chaplaincy and pastoral counseling ministries full-time. She succeeds Gerry Hutchinson, who will retire in August, after serving CBF since January 2014. Under Hutchinson’s leadership, CBF endorsed nearly 200 chaplains and pastoral counselors, including CBF’s 1,000th endorsement in 2016. George Pickle, who passed away in June, served from 2001 to 2012.
CBF Executive Coordinator Paul Baxley welcomed Owen to this new role and expressed his appreciation to members of CBF Council on Endorsement who participated in the search process.
“I am so glad that Renée Owen has agreed to join the leadership of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship,” Baxley said. “She brings an incredible combination of gifts and experiences, both in the ministry of chaplaincy and in the lives of congregations, that uniquely position her to guide us as we build on the incredible work done by George Pickle and Gerry Hutchinson. I am grateful for the active participation of members of the Council on Endorsement in our selection process and look forward to all the ways we can grow not only our ministry of endorsing chaplains and pastoral counselors, but find new ways of supporting them in their calling and connecting them more deeply to our congregations and other ministries.”
Stephen Reeves, CBF associate coordinator of partnerships and advocacy, echoed Baxley and said Owen will be a strong advocate for chaplains and pastoral counselors.
“I am thrilled that Renée has felt called to this position at CBF,” Reeves said. “After service in the local church, and at the height of a distinguished career in hospital chaplaincy, she turns now to serve CBF and our nearly 800 active chaplains. In her interview and conversation with our search advisory team members, it is clear she loves CBF and will be a strong advocate for our chaplains and pastoral counselors.”
Ansia Chahoy, a CBF-endorsed correctional chaplain serving in New York and chair of the Council on Endorsement, lauded Owen’s “unique skillset” and vision for the future of CBF chaplaincy and pastoral counseling ministries.
“Through my experience in trauma hospitals, universities and correctional institutions, chaplains are increasingly tasked with quantifying and qualifying the need for investment in spiritual care, and the value that chaplains bring to an organization,” Chahoy said. “Renée possesses the unique skillset that marries the business acumen needed to elevate and explain the nuances of the chaplains’ role to solidify our place and importance to senior administration. We eagerly look forward to her executing her vision for the next generation of CBF chaplaincy, while building on the strong foundation laid by Gerry Hutchinson and George Pickle.”
Stephanie McLeskey, who served on the Council on Endorsement from 2017-2020 and was part of the search advisory team, emphasized Owen’s experience and expertise.
“Renée brings tremendous experience, knowledge and energy to this position,” said McLeskey, a CBF-endorsed chaplain at Mars Hill University in Mars Hill, N.C. “She looks forward to supporting CBF chaplaincy, working with candidates in the endorsement process and—with great compassion—nurturing and connecting with our network of chaplains across the country and the world. I look forward to her leadership.”
John Pierce, executive editor and publisher of Good Faith Media, called Owen “highly professional, yet very personable.”
“Renée will serve CBF and its chaplains effectively, and represent the organization so well to congregations, institutions and professional chaplaincy organizations. She is highly organized, very dependable and a team player. Those characteristics, along with being an effective communicator, led to her rise to a top management position overseeing spiritual health for a large Atlanta-area health care system.”
Jack Glasgow, senior pastor of Zebulon Baptist Church in Zebulon, N.C. and former CBF moderator, emphasized Owen’s gifts for ministry.
“Since her days on our staff at Zebulon Baptist Church, I have appreciated Renée Owen’s incredible gifts for ministry,” Glasgow said. “She is a trusted friend and colleague who has enjoyed a remarkable career in hospital chaplaincy. Renée will be a tremendous asset to our Fellowship as she leads our chaplaincy ministry.”
Gerry Hutchinson said he was encouraged by Owen’s selection.
“Renée marks a generational shift in that she has been endorsed by CBF from the outset of her chaplaincy ministry,” Hutchinson said. “She brings 21 years of clinical chaplaincy and administrative experience. She will be a chaplain to our chaplains and counselors, and I also believe she will lead the CBF chaplaincy and pastoral counseling ministries with skill and aplomb.”
Owen expressed her excitement to serve as the next chaplaincy endorser for CBF and called it an honor to follow in the footsteps of her predecessors, Hutchinson and Pickle.
“Since my days at Duke Divinity School, CBF has been an instrumental part of my ministerial formation and journey,” Owen said. “At a time when I was searching for my place in ministry, CBF welcomed me with affirmation, support and guidance. My years of serving on staff at CBF churches across North Carolina offered me communities where I could share my ministerial gifts, while growing and further shaping my pastoral identity. Over the years, many CBF leaders have been and continue to be strong advocates and mentors in my ministerial journey. Without the blessing and support from the CBF Council on Endorsement, and at that time, encouragement from George Pickle, I would not have had the opportunity to serve as a healthcare chaplain for the past 21 years.
“I have had the honor of journeying with many patients, families and healthcare professionals through sacred times in their lives. Many of the names I have forgotten, and yet the diversity of faces and stories are embedded in my memory—some filled with grief, some full of joy and gratitude, all sacred. Hearing and honoring their stories has been an important part of my role as a chaplain and minister. I now see my journey changing course to hearing, honoring and sharing the stories of our CBF-endorsed chaplains and pastoral counselors, who represent our CBF mission to share God’s love and embody the hope of Christ. I am so excited to bring my experience and passion for chaplaincy to CBF.”
The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship currently has more than 785 endorsed chaplains and pastoral counselors who are actively serving in a variety of specialized settings. CBF-endorsed chaplains serve in each branch of the United States Armed Forces, medical centers, correctional institutions, hospice organizations, police, fire and rescue departments, colleges and universities, businesses and industries, retirement communities, the Department of Veterans Affairs and Civil Air Patrol as well as in many other specialized settings. CBF-endorsed pastoral counselors serve in counseling centers, interdisciplinary settings and on church staffs.
For more information about CBF chaplaincy and pastoral counseling ministries, including information on endorsement, visit https://cbf.net/chaplaincy-pastoral-counseling.
CBF is a Christian Network that helps people put their faith to practice through ministry efforts, global missions and a broad community of support. The Fellowship’s mission is to serve Christians and churches as they discover and fulfill their God-given mission.