Chaplains at Baptist Medical Center


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Al Carden, Department Director

Dr. Carden received his Bachelor of Music from Mississippi College, Master of Church Music and a Master of Religious Education from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He earned a Doctor of Ministry degree from Columbia Theological Seminary, and has earned 9 units of Clinical Pastoral Education.

Dr. Carden is a Fellow in the American Association of Pastoral Counselors, and a board certified chaplain in the Association of Professional Chaplains. In the fall of 2008, Dr. Carden reached the Diplomate level in the College of Pastoral Supervision and Psychotherapy. This distinction will facilitate his supervision of clinical pastoral education at Baptist Medical Center.

Dr. Carden has been serving as a chaplain at Mississippi Baptist Medical Center since 1992. In 2003, Dr. Carden assumed responsibilities as Director of the Pastoral Care Department.

Marty Harper, Clinical Ministries Manager

A native of Vicksburg, Mississippi, Chaplain Marty Harper joined the pastoral care department in 1996. She holds both a bachelor of science degree and a master’s degree in counseling from Mississippi State University. In 1989, she received a Master of Divinity degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. She has completed four units (1600 hours) of Clinical Pastoral Education and is an ordained Baptist minister. Harper is a board certified chaplain with the Association of Professional Chaplains.

At Baptist, Harper is the Clinical Ministries Manager for the Department of Pastoral Care. Her responsibilities include supervision of the staff chaplains, clinical liaison for the Clinical Pastoral Education program, and patient ministry focusing on geriatrics. She serves on the Medical Technology Student Interview Committee, the Kathy Bearden Scholarship Committee, Carry the Mission Campaign Committee, and various other committees. She is a past president of the Mississippi Baptist Chaplains’ Association and past vice-president of the Mississippi Alzheimer’s Association Board of Directors. As a certified Alzheimer’s Support Group facilitator, Harper has been a speaker numerous times on issues related to caregiving. Harper was recently selected to serve a two-year term with the Association of Professional Chaplains as State Continuing Education Chair for Mississippi.


Chaplain Heath Ferguson

Heath Ferguson is an Associate Staff Chaplain at Mississippi Baptist Medical Center. His ministry focus is with Mothers and Babies, NICU, and surgical units. He is currently a student at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Heath is married to the former Emily Wardlaw Guthrie. They have a one son named M.G. Heath was raised in Wesson, Mississippi and currently lives in Madison. He is also currently the pastor at Antioch Baptist Church in Hazlehurst, Mississippi.

Chaplain Jerry Gaggini

Chaplain Jerry Gaggini grew up right here in Jackson. Besides his full-time work at Baptist Medical Center, he has taught courses in law and ethics at Belhaven University since 2002. He holds a master’s degree in theological studies from Spring Hill College in Mobile, an undergraduate degree in business administration from Belhaven, and doctorate in law from Mississippi College School of Law.

He is an active member of St. Paul Catholic Church in Flowood. Chaplain Gaggini has ecclesiastical endorsement from the Roman Catholic Bishop of the Jackson Diocese.

His ministry responsibilities include the Adult Intensive Care Unit, Surgical Intensive Care Unit, 3N, 3S, 5S and CPE supervisor.

Chaplain Solon Smith

Chaplain Solon Smith grew up in the Mississippi Delta, and is an avid Dallas Cowboys fan. He is the chaplain for Oncology, Restorative Care, 3B, 5C, and 6B. Solon, his wife, Leah, and their two dogs Jack and Tucker, live in Jackson. Leah is originally from Louisville, KY, but is proud to call Jackson home.  Solon graduated from Mississippi College and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He started his Clinical Pastoral Education at Baptist, where he worked part time. He also did a residency at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Lexington, KY. Prior to coming back to Baptist, Solon was a chaplain in Madison, IN. 



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