Whether with his congregation, at the bedside of a patient, or in front of a group of youngsters, the Rev. Dr. Dennis M. Ward has a single core message – build trust.
Rev. Ward was born and raised in Lima, OH. After serving in the military, he returned to his hometown to help his community in a variety of ways. At Mercy Health – St. Rita’s Medical Center, he has served as a chaplain – the first African American chaplain at the hospital – for more than 15 years.
Throughout his years as a chaplain in the hospital and a leader as well as a pastor in the community, Rev. Ward has served the sick and poor. He prays for those afflicted with gun violence. He works with those who need to create their advanced directives.
Most recently, Rev. Ward has been raising community awareness of COVID-19 and the new vaccines. He has coordinated connections with our leaders and physicians to provide presentations and join community group information sessions.
“I would say if you’re not sure, check with your physician to get as much info as you can,” he shares. “Make sure you go to the right source.”
While this virus knows no boundary with race, Rev. Ward believes that Black History Month provides an excellent back drop to remember the lessons of our past as we look to the future.
“We can’t look back too far because we’ll lose focus on where we’re going but we have to use our history,” he says. “I would say we all need to have an open and honest dialogue. We are different people from different backgrounds, and we need to build up trust. Our relationships can’t be superficial.”
Rev. Ward is the pastor of Second Baptist Church of Lima, the region’s oldest Baptist church founded in 1873. He has also served as the president of the Lima Area Black Ministers Alliance for the past six years. In these roles and others Rev. Ward helped start a local Freedom School, which is a national education program that works with youth to increase math and reading skills.
At St. Rita’s Medical Center specifically, Rev. Ward is a welcomed face for both patients and the team. He offers spiritual words along with a calming and trusted presence. In fact, the reverend has a long history with St. Rita’s. Two of his aunts retired after nearly 40 years as nurses from the hospital. This means that health care, and more importantly, caring for others, is in his blood.
“We are grateful for Rev. Ward’s ministry at St. Rita’s and his concern and leadership in the community,” shares Amy Marcum, Chief Mission Officer, Mercy Health – St. Rita’s Medical Center. “He is a respected leader and compassionate chaplain. His wisdom and prayerful strength are a guiding light for many.”
Through his work, his presence and his commitment, Rev. Ward has made an impact on many in our community. His goal is to help many more.
“I definitely have a sense of pride, but I also know that we have a long way to go,” he says.