2009.03.29: March 29, 2009: Headlines: COS - Jamaica: Religion: Service: Towanda Daily Review: Jamaica RPCV Reverend Dr. Cynthia Huling Hummell takes her strength and spirit to the front lines in the community as Fire Chaplain

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Jamaica: Peace Corps Jamaica : Peace Corps Jamaica: Newest Stories: 2009.03.29: March 29, 2009: Headlines: COS - Jamaica: Religion: Service: Towanda Daily Review: Jamaica RPCV Reverend Dr. Cynthia Huling Hummell takes her strength and spirit to the front lines in the community as Fire Chaplain

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Jamaica RPCV Reverend Dr. Cynthia Huling Hummell takes her strength and spirit to the front lines in the community as Fire Chaplain

Jamaica RPCV Reverend Dr. Cynthia Huling Hummell takes her strength and spirit to the front lines in the community as Fire Chaplain

Upon graduating, Hummell joined the Peace Corps for two years, serving as a teacher in Jamaica. Hummell graduated in 1996 with her Masters in Divinity and was soon called to be pastor at the Lyons Presbyterian Church in New York. It was there that Hummell became a Fire Chaplain. As desccribed by Hummell, Fire Chaplains are men and women of different faith traditions who are called to bring the presence of God to our firehouses, our firefighters and to the communities in which they live and work. But in most areas, Hummell said that Fire Chaplains are usually what they refer to as a "knife and fork position". "This is where you just go to the banquet and say grace," said Hummell, "I wanted it to be more." After researching the internet, Hummell learned of the New York State Association of Fire Chaplains and began to get involved on a different level. Now on the board of directors for the association, Hummell is invited to preach at memorial services, and is able to work with fire chaplains from other areas around New York State. As a fire chaplain in Waverly, Hummell has a radio, and responds to calls for house fires to offer support. "Because Iím not a firefighter I get to stand back and get to those who are in distress." And the support, according to Hummell, is foremost for the firefighters, and also for families affected. Hummell recalled a fire two months ago on Chemung Street that saw one fatality, a woman whose predeceased husband had been an active member of the Waverly Fire Department. According to Hummell, the woman was like part of the family, so the firefighters needed extra support during that situation. "Sometimes people just need to talk about what they experienced," she said. And in all situations involving home fires, Hummell finds people that need comfort. "People involved in fires are often quite traumatized," she said. "Either the fire wakes them from their sleep, or for those watching it may trigger memories of an experience they might have had with fire."

Jamaica RPCV Reverend Dr. Cynthia Huling Hummell takes her strength and spirit to the front lines in the community as Fire Chaplain

Pastor takes her strength and spirit to the front lines in the community

By Wendy Post

Published: Sunday, March 29, 2009 7:29 PM EDT

Caption: Fire Fight training at Altus AFB, Oklahoma by Paul L McCord Jr Flickr Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic

While standing outside a burning home in Lyons, New York, where Reverend Dr. Cynthia Huling Hummell was serving as pastor at a nearby church as well as fire chaplain, a young girl who lived in the home located right next to the burning home looked up at her and said something that changed Hummellís heart forever.

The young girl, who Hummell could not recall the name, looked at Hummell and asked, "are you the only girl"?

Hummell, among the hustle and bustle of firefighters who were battling the blaze, returned the glance and replied, "yes, I am".

Much to her surprise, the young girl said "just wait, and I will be doing this too."

The young girl was impressed by the role that Hummell was playing that day as she comforted firefighters and those affected by the fire in her role as Fire Chaplain; a role she continues to perform today with the Waverly Fire Department.

But Hummell did not always fulfill that role. Her journey began on a slightly different path, with the changes happening by what she described as "Godís hand changing her direction".

Growing up in New Jersey, Hummell attended Rutgers University where she gained a degree in Elementary Education and certification in Special Education.

Upon graduating, Hummell joined the Peace Corps for two years, serving as a teacher in Jamaica. Hummell also started a school while in Jamaica for children who are developmentally disabled, and trained educators for the school during her second and final year of service.

But when she returned to New Jersey she was finding it difficult to obtain a job in teaching. "I thought, in my naive way, that I started a school so I would have an advantage," said Hummell. "But I was wrong."

She soon found herself working for Dun & Bradstreet, a company that was hiring educators to perform help desk work to assist customers in resolving computer problems.

During this time, Hummell also married and had two children, Emily, who is now 26 and William, 24.

When her children were born Hummell wanted to get involved in a church community, and this is where her path would begin to change.

Hummell got involved with a Presbyterian Church in North Plainfield, New Jersey where she immediately engaged in Sunday School activities and offered community volunteerism.

The pastor at the time, Brooks Smith, recommended that Hummell attend a seminary, and immediately got her rolling with the paperwork needed to make it happen.

Hummell soon found herself at the New Brunswick Seminary that was located at Rutgers, the same University she attended during her college years.

"I found it ironic that after 20 years I would be in the same place where I started my education," said Hummell.

Working a job, raising children, and attending school evenings, Hummell graduated in 1996 with her Masters in Divinity and was soon called to be pastor at the Lyons Presbyterian Church in New York.

It was there that Hummell became a Fire Chaplain. As decscribed by Hummell, Fire Chaplains are men and women of different faith traditions who are called to bring the presence of God to our firehouses, our firefighters and to the communities in which they live and work.

But in most areas, Hummell said that Fire Chaplains are usually what they refer to as a "knife and fork position". "This is where you just go to the banquet and say grace," said Hummell, "I wanted it to be more."

After researching the internet, Hummell learned of the New York State Association of Fire Chaplains and began to get involved on a different level.

Now on the board of directors for the association, Hummell is invited to preach at memorial services, and is able to work with fire chaplains from other areas around New York State.

In 2006, Hummell was the first female fire chaplain to preach at a memorial service held at the Baptist Church in Montour Falls that honored fire chaplains that had passed.

"A few go home with Jesus each year," she said, "so this service is very important."

Hummell was also astonished at how many fire chaplains there are in New York State, stating that there are at least 700, with a percentage being members of the association.

In 2007, Hummell was asked to relocate to Waverly, New York and serve as pastor for the First Presbyterian Church of Waverly; an assignment that she humbly accepted.

Upon her arrival, Hummell immediately connected with the fire department and submitted her application to serve as a volunteer fire chaplain for the company. Her application was promptly accepted.

As a fire chaplain in Waverly, Hummell has a radio, and responds to calls for house fires to offer support.

"Because Iím not a firefighter I get to stand back and get to those who are in distress." And the support, according to Hummell, is foremost for the firefighters, and also for families affected.

Hummell recalled a fire two months ago on Chemung Street that saw one fatality, a woman whose predeceased husband had been an active member of the Waverly Fire Department.

According to Hummell, the woman was like part of the family, so the firefighters needed extra support during that situation. "Sometimes people just need to talk about what they experienced," she said.

And in all situations involving home fires, Hummell finds people that need comfort. "People involved in fires are often quite traumatized," she said. "Either the fire wakes them from their sleep, or for those watching it may trigger memories of an experience they might have had with fire."

Hummell leads a busy life that surrounds her responsibilities as a fire chaplain. As a pastor for the First Presbyterian Church in Waverly, Hummell performs two services on Sunday for her growing congregation that numbers 150 members.

Hummell is also on call as a volunteer chaplain for Robert Packer Hospital in Sayre. She described her service as providing support to those experiencing end of life, life support, or families involved in critical accidents.

"We are there for all religious faiths," said Hummell. "You meet them where they are."

Hummell talked in detail about providing support to families who are challenged with the decision of removing a family member from life support, and how difficult it is. "You have to be very strong, but itís a rare privilege to have a family invite you into this time," she said.

She also described this service as being a "midwife for God". "You help people through their pain."

Hummell has also experienced difficult times in her own life to include a divorce. Now living alone among her new family she has established through the church and fire department, Hummell is dedicating her life fully to her community, and to God.

"I have met many people in the fire department and they are like family," said Hummell. "They get to know me and they have someone to talk to as well when they need to."

"Everyone has their own job," she added. "You have interior firefighting, exterior firefighting, and then you have the fire chaplain."

Also, she noted, some people donít have a church, so she serves as their pastor.




Links to Related Topics (Tags):

Headlines: March, 2009; Peace Corps Jamaica; Directory of Jamaica RPCVs; Messages and Announcements for Jamaica RPCVs; Religion; Service; Pennsylvania





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Story Source: Towanda Daily Review

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Jamaica; Religion; Service

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