The Rev. Tom Summers has more than 20 years’ experience in pastoral ministry, including six years as chaplain and bereavement counselor in hospice care. He is an adjunct faculty member at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia. Since 2012, Tom has been actively providing spiritual support, spiritual comfort and spiritual education to the residents of the Rydal Park community. We sat down with Tom to discuss the important role he plays in the lives of the residents at Rydal Park and the many places his vocation takes him each and every day.

Q: What do you love most about serving the community of Rydal Park?
A: One of the things I absolutely love about this community is how diverse it really is. We have all kinds of different background. People from all different faith traditions; which is wonderful.

Q: How did you become so well-versed and diverse in the different faith backgrounds?
A: It has always been something that I loved. My focus as an undergraduate and then in seminary was my desire to become a professor to teach Semitic languages and Old
Testament theology. That’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to get my Masters and then Ph.D and then teach in a college or seminary.

But circumstances changed and so did the direction of my work. Studying all of the Hebrew Scriptures, studying theology and worship traditions was something that helped
me understand what we do as Presbyterians. Part of our theology grows out of this background.

Q: Your role takes you in a lot of different directions. How do you stay grounded?
A: When I started here I sold my car and started taking the train. My morning devotion typically goes something like this: Lord, I don’t know what I am going to face this day, but I trust that you will put me in the places where I need to be.

Q: What does it mean to you, to be on “A Mission to Inspire?”
A: Quite frankly, I think that is my job description! Just to be here to be able to spend time with residents individually, to be deeply involved in all the different aspects of spiritual practice, the worship services, the bible studies; to be able to provide that kind of support, that sense of comfort—it’s my job to be inspiring!