Rev. Melody Rutherford is first African American to lead Spiritual Care program
- Rev. Melody Rutherford has been with Roswell Park since 2015
- First African American to lead Spiritual Care at Roswell Park
- Brings peaceful, caring, uplifting energy to patients, caregivers
BUFFALO, N.Y. — Recognized by the families she serves as kindhearted and compassionate, Reverend Melody Rutherford, M.Div., MS, has been named Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Director of Spiritual Care following a national search.
Rev. Rutherford, the first African American to lead spiritual care at Roswell Park, had been a full-time Protestant chaplain at the cancer center since 2015. Her ministry has included being Palliative Care Chaplain — working side by side with families on end-of-life decisions, a role she calls a “blessing.”
"When patients and families let me enter their journey, I don’t take that lightly,” says Rev. Rutherford.
Under Rev. Rutherford’s guidance, the Spiritual Care program will continue to offer weekly prayer and worship services, annual retreats, memorial services and grief support groups. She will continue to offer educational opportunities for local spiritual care workers and faith community leaders.
“Rev. Rutherford’s commitment to whole-person care — which prioritizes physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being — is unparalleled,” says Amy Case, MD, FAAHPM, the Lee Foundation Endowed Chair of the Department of Palliative and Supportive Care at Roswell Park. “Patients love her peaceful and uplifting presence, and we’re excited to see where she takes this program though her creativity and vision.”
Rev. Rutherford has many connections in the local faith-based community, and serves as an associate minister at a Buffalo-area church. She serves on the Board of Trustees for the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra (BPO), as Co-Chair of the BPO’s Diversity Council, and as an active board member for the Buffalo City Mission/Cornerstone Manor.
Rev. Rutherford holds her master’s degree in divinity from Northeastern Seminary, a master’s in management from Excelsior College and a bachelor’s degree from SUNY Empire State College. She is currently completing a doctorate in ministry from the Leadership cognate.
Before coming to Roswell Park, she worked for Sisters of Charity Hospital as a full-time chaplain.
Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center is a community united by the drive to eliminate cancer’s grip on humanity by unlocking its secrets through personalized approaches and unleashing the healing power of hope. Founded by Dr. Roswell Park in 1898, it is the only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center in Upstate New York. Learn more at www.roswellpark.org, or contact us at 1-800-ROSWELL (1-800-767-9355) or ASKRoswell@RoswellPark.org.
Rebecca Vogt, Media Relations Specialist