Chaplain Claudette C. Rodney
An ordained Pentecostal minister with The House of the Lord Church, Claudette Rodney holds a B.A., an M.S. in Education and a Doctor of Psychology degree (all from Pace University in New York, NY), as well as a Master of Divinity degree from the Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology at Virginia Union University. Employed as a full-time Psychology Associate Senior at Greensville Correctional Center, Dr. Rodney serves as a part-time chaplain at the Brunswick Women’s Center and also as a volunteer chaplain at the Deerfield Men’s and Women’s Work Centers.
“A convict convicted me of a higher calling.” A native of Guyana, South America, Chaplain Claudette Rodney had traveled extensively serving in the US, London, South Africa, Ghana, Kenya and even Hong Kong. With her Doctorate in School and Community Psychology, she did not lack for work to do. Yet, it was a man incarcerated at Greensville Correctional Center who nudged Chaplain Rodney to hear her call from God.
“While I was working in my position in mental health, I came across the offender coordinator for religious programs who kept asking me to speak.” He believed Chaplain Rodney had a word to share. “I said ‘ok’ thinking I’ll go and do it once and then he’ll leave me alone. I gave that message in 2001.”
Chaplain Rodney explains, “I got a note from the chaplain who said the men really enjoyed it – and they had the 3rd Sunday available and would I agree to come back. I wasn’t an ordained minister. I wasn’t even feeling called at that point. It was working with them that, by the time it came around to 2002, I found my call.” Adding a Master of Divinity to her list of degrees in 2006, Chaplain Rodney first served at Greensville as a volunteer.
After eight years, a new supervisor, concerned about a conflict of interest, no longer permitted to Chaplain Rodney to volunteer at Greensville. That was two years before she began work with GraceInside in 2011. “For those two years, I was miserable. It broke my heart. My soul was torn apart. The guys would tell me they missed me and ask when I was coming back. I went on a weekend silent retreat asking, ‘Lord, you have GOT to tell me how to restore my soul.’ At the end of the retreat, I came out on Sunday and on Monday I got a call about being interviewed as a chaplain with GraceInside”– but for a different institution. Three days later, Chaplain Rodney had the permission of both Wardens and “my soul was put back together!”
“I started out at Deerfield Men and Women’s Work Centers. In 2013, they took those two institutions off the contract and I was sent to Brunswick Women’s Reception & Pre-release Center but I continue to volunteer at the work centers. I truly feel called with both my work in psychology and theology. Those two parts fulfill who I am. Even though the institutions got cut off, I knew in my heart I could not just leave the men and the women. I just knew I had to keep going. It is the call.”
While continuing to work full-time at Greensville, Chaplain Rodney serves the incarcerated constantly. She sees the need and knows she can help meet it. “I talk with men and women and help them feel better…I help them communicate with their children…I help them communicate with God so when they come back home, they can be better.”
It is hard to fathom that Chaplain Rodney has anytime left over at the end of the day. If she does, she’ll be found with a good book. “I love to read.” And, when work permits time away? “Any opportunity to travel, I do that.” Last year, Chaplain Rodney added the Western Caribbean to her list of international places – but this one was for pure pleasure. No work allowed!