WMA Mational Chaplain
Melinda Townsend was born in Denver, CO and raised primarily in the north-central area of New Mexico (Española, Santa Fe and Taos). She spent 3 years living in Aguascalientes Mexico as a teenager giving her a wonderful cross-culture living experience and fluency in Spanish. She graduated from St. Michael’s High School in Santa Fe, NM.
Melinda is an honorably discharged veteran from the United States Marine Corps and a Life Member of the WMA. She graduated from Platoon 7A in 1975. She completed Basic Automotive Mechanics Training (3521) in January 1976, graduating first in her class and receiving a meritorious promotion to L.Cpl. She was stationed at MCAS Cherry Point and assigned to WERS-27 (later H&GMS-27) where she worked in the Maintenance Management Office. She received a second meritorious promotion to Cpl. in August 1976. She completed her enlistment in July 1977.
From 1978-2003, she was a member of the Sisters of Social Service (SSS) of Los Angeles (a Roman Catholic religious order). Over her 25 years of services in the SSS, she ministered as a: Youth Minister at the Church of the Resurrection; Director of Camp Mariastella (a summer girls’ camp and year round youth retreat facility); Liturgist at St. Vincent’s in South Central Los Angeles; and Director of Adult Religious Education and Evangelization for the Diocese of Orange CA.
In 2003, she separated from the SSS to pursue ordination in the United Church of Christ (UCC). From 2003-2007, she lived in Walla Walla, WA where she served both as the Associate Pastor at First Congregational UCC and Executive Director of Helpline (an emergency social Service agency). In 2007, she relocated to Denver to be closer to family and, since that time, has worked at Aurora Housing Authority (AHA). Melinda currently serves as the Deputy Executive of Housing and Family Services, supervising the Director of Assisted Housing, Director of Family Services, 4 resident services staff members and 4 case managers with Masters of Social Work degrees. She has announced that she will be retiring from AHA in July 2022 and relocating to Pensacola FL.
Melinda completed a 200 hr. Yoga Teacher Training program in April of 2016. The training has afforded her an opportunity to develop a deep appreciation for Yoga, Hinduism and Buddhism. In addition, she has become increasingly aware of how mindfulness practices can enrich our lives. She is a registered Yoga teacher with the Yoga Alliance and until COVID taught Yoga at her local church.
Melinda earned her BA in Economics from California State University – Dominguez Hills (1984), a Master of Divinity (M.Div.) from Fuller Theological Seminary (1993), a Master of Philosophy in Contemporary Systematic Theology (ABD) from Fordham University (2000) and a Master of Science in Organizational Leadership from Colorado State University – Global Campus (2013).
Melinda is ready to serve the WMA members in any spiritual needs, a shoulder to lean on, She will lead the WMA Ministry with a fresh voice. She can be contacted at email@example.com