News and Views

Reddix-McCray tends to bodies and souls

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By Eleanor Meeks

You Can’t Feed Someone’s Soul If Their Body is Hungry: A profile on Rev. Dr. Irance Reddix-McCray and Her Journey of Faith

On a Tuesday afternoon at approximately 1 p.m., the Adullum Community Healthcare Center sits in calm stillness. Located in the Waverly UMC fellowship hall, the waiting room for the healthcare center has many visual similarities to any other doctor’s office. To the left, there is a door to the room where vitals are taken, and to the right, is the doctor's office that doubles as the pastor's office with a hand sanitizer stand sitting next to it and a TV in the corner. However, this is not a normal doctor's office.

Directly across from the waiting room/fellowship hall is the door to the sanctuary, stained glass windows lining the rest of the wall. On the right side of the room is a small altar with a cross and a wooden sign that says “believe.” The wooden floors and sanctuary windows make this room feel unlike any other waiting room. This physical composition is a perfect manifestation of the goal of Adullum and its creator, the Rev. Dr. Irance Reddix-McCray.

“What we wanted to do was create a smaller place where people didn't feel so threatened coming into a clinic with an antiseptic smell, [a place] that people felt comfortable enough to come in and talk to someone who actually cared about what you were saying,” said Reddix-McCray. This is how Adullum was born, but it has been a long journey.

Originally born in Monroe, Louisiana, where she had grown up Catholic, she was brought to Baltimore through a faculty clinical development fellowship with Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland. She had wanted to get her master’s in public health and do advocacy work. Becoming a United Methodist pastor was never in her plans. But within three months of moving to Baltimore, the fellowship that had brought her here lost funding.

“So I was at a crux to decide if I was going to go back home to Louisiana, or what I was going to do,” said Reddix-McCray. Her mentor, who she had been doing research with, offered to hire her so she would have a job and her son could finish out the school year. With some extra time on her hands, Reddix-McCray was able to pursue something she had always been interested in: theology. She began visiting St. Mary's Ecumenical Institute on Roland Avenue in Baltimore. This sparked her interest in the intersection between faith, health, medicine, and ministry and she decided she wanted to get her Masters in Theology.

At the same time, Reddix-McCray began attending Ames Memorial UMC. The pastor at the time asked her to get involved in leadership, but she was unsure because she was so new to The United Methodist Church. Then one of the professors who she had worked with at Johns Hopkins, who was also a United Methodist pastor, urged her to consider ordination. He told her the best way to educate people in the church about the intersections between faith and health is “by speaking their language.”

“He said, you know, just like medicine has a language, churches and religious organizations have their language. He said to me, ‘Well, in order for you to speak their language, you've got to be a part of their organization.’” After speaking to her pastor, Reddix-McCray decided she wanted to begin the ordination process, and she began attending Wesley Theological Seminary.

After completing seminary, Rev. Dr. Reddix-McCray was appointed to St. John’s UMC. While serving there she noticed the large number of unhoused people living on the street and under the bridge by the church. She knew these people likely needed medical assistance but were in survival mode and did not have the resources to access the medical care they needed.

“I realized that just like God told Moses, what do you have in your hand? You know, this is the thing that I am most passionate about, which is creating a sense of wholeness for people wherever they are,” said Reddix-McCray. Thus, the idea for Adullum Community Healthcare Center was born.

Adullum is open five days a week and provides a wide range of medical services, from primary care and lab tests, to behavioral and mental healthcare, family planning, hormone therapy, and more. They serve people of all ages and stages of life with services from preventative to palliative care. They also often provide meals for people who need them and have a boutique for clothes and shoes. Reddix-McCray wanted to create Adullum to provide people with holistic care.

“You know, this is the thing that I am most passionate about, which is creating a sense of wholeness for people wherever they are,” said Reddix-McCray. Baltimore Metropolitan District Superintendent the Rev. Wanda Duckett has watched Reddix-McCray through her journey with Adullum. She says that Reddix-McCray’s ministry is so important because she is able to see what people really need.

“She saw that there was a gap where people lost certain services and access to resources like transportation and some of the over-the-counter medicines that they could get covered. So she will see a need like that and fill in the gap for the community for the most vulnerable people.” explained Duckett. It is clear that while this may not have been where Reddix-McCray saw herself when she first came to Baltimore, the impact she is making is irreplicable and where God has called her to be.

As part of this year's mission project, the Baltimore-Washington Conference is collecting items and funds for Adullum Community Healthcare Center at New Waverly UMC in Baltimore. Using an Amazon wish list, individuals and congregations are asked to purchase much-needed supplies that will be used by Adullum’s medical staff to provide care to their patients. You are also invited to contribute funds, which will go to salaries and other needs.
IMPORTANT NOTE: The items should now be sent to Rev. Dr. Irancé Reddix-McCray at 3317 Kenjac Rd, Windsor Mill, MD 21244.