People of the U: Mark Gilbert
Published on Tuesday, February 22, 2022
By: Annie Oeth, email@example.com
Editor's Note: In honor of Black History Month’s 2022 theme, Black Health and Wellness, we want to celebrate the contributions, breakthroughs and cultural richness of Black professionals and students at UMMC. See more People of the U features.
The Rev. Mark Gilbert’s first day as chaplain for the state’s only children’s hospital was just five days after his father died of COVID-19 in Detroit.
“It was the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, and I couldn’t go be with him,” Gilbert said. “We couldn’t have a funeral. It was difficult, and the grief was overwhelming.”
Gilbert was set to start work at the University of Mississippi Medical Center and its pediatric arm, Children’s of Mississippi, April 6, “and I knew that my father would want me to do this. Although this was difficult to face, my father’s death from COVID-19 has helped me in relating to our patients’ families and our care team during this pandemic.”
A Detroit native, Gilbert came to Mississippi by way of South Carolina, where he earned an undergraduate degree in Bible at Columbia International University. He then earned a Master of Divinity degree from Liberty University and now studying for his doctoral degree in ministry from Ecumenical Theological Seminary in Detroit.
“I’ll be writing my dissertation on the need for disability theology in curricula for chaplaincy,” he said.
Trained as a chaplain, Gilbert came to Mississippi to pastor Refuge Temple Church of Jackson.
“I felt called to be a pastor, but I also have a calling to be a chaplain,” Gilbert said, “so when there was an opening for a chaplain at UMMC, I applied.”
Being a chaplain at Children’s of Mississippi has “tapped into a range of emotions,” said Gilbert, who has helped bring smiles to patients while dressed as Santa and counseled countless families who are facing medical challenges.
“It’s been joyful and difficult,” he said, “but there is so much fulfillment in caring for children and their families.”
Gilbert is a familiar face in the children’s hospital’s chapel on the ground floor of the Kathy and Joe Sanderson Tower, a space where anyone who needs quiet and introspection can go.
He also counts UMMC employees among those in his care. “This pandemic has been so difficult for everyone. Hospital chaplains are here to support them, too.”