Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

The Broadmoor hires first hotel chaplain

By Stephanie Earls Published: June 10, 2013

"Swimming? Great day for it. It is unseasonably warm, sir. Yes it is," said McBride, stepping from behind the sales counter of the Haberdashery, in The Broadmoor's shopping arcade, to help his customer.

As the first resident chaplain in the resort's history - a part-time gig, for now - McBride divides his time between shop assignments and pastoral duties, which include counseling guests and staff and leading nondenominational services at the renovated Pauline Memorial Chapel.

It's mid-afternoon on a Thursday - so, retail time - but he has his cellphone, should a spiritual or emotional crisis arise. For that, he's on call 24/7.

"There are all different kinds of chaplains, but not so many hotel chaplains," said McBride, a congenial Texas accent tugging at his words. "The greatest thrill in my life is to be there so there's someone to turn to in a tragedy."

When he was named chaplain in March, McBride stepped into a multifaceted position, one that's still relatively rare in the hotel and resort industry outside cruise ships.

"Nathan kind of fills a dual role for us, as both our chaplain and a counselor," said Cindy Johnson, head of human resources at The Broadmoor. "I think that role is really unique in our industry."

Chaplains have long played a vital role in the military and at hospitals and prisons, but in recent years companies such as Corporate Chaplains of America, which provides trained chaplains to businesses, say they have seen an increasing demand for in-house spiritual counsel.

Because they are filled with guests - and employees - who often have traveled great distances from their home churches and support networks, hotels present a setting ideally suited for chaplaincy, said Allison Scott, the resort's director of communications.

"Like at a hospital, there are times you may be far away from home and you need someone you trust and who listens, who you feel comfortable talking to," Scott said. "That takes a very special person, and that person is Nathan."

Born and raised in Dallas, the son of a Southern Baptist minister, McBride is a big, friendly guy with a presence that instantly can warm a room.

McBride received a master's degree in communications from the University of Texas and a Doctor of Ministry degree from Andersonville Theological Seminary in Georgia, then he led his own flocks at churches in Texas for 20 years, ultimately choosing to embrace a "more nondenominational posture in order to reach a broader audience."

In late 2011, McBride and his wife, Paula, who have three adult children, moved to Colorado Springs to work in The Broadmoor's guest shops. Then, last summer, the resort's 1919 church, Pauline Memorial Chapel, was reopened after a major renovation and restoration project. Because of his background in the ministry, McBride was tapped to arrange for visiting pastors and speakers to lead the services.

"Nathan was scheduling ministers and laypeople in to speak, but we found that he was one of the most compelling people we could have," Scott said.

"When it was first decided that he would be named chaplain, I think every employee who knows him was absolutely thrilled. He's just one of those go-to people."

Scott knew McBride in the retail setting before she knew of his ministerial background - information that ultimately came as little surprise to her.

"You have people that you kind of gravitate to, no matter what your affiliation, and he was just always one of those people," Scott said. "He is very easy to talk to. He's probably one of the most loved employees we have on the property."

As The Broadmoor chaplain, McBride serves as welcome host and leads the 9 a.m. Sunday worship. He also officiates weddings, funerals and other religious ceremonies and offers pastoral counseling to guests, staff and resort members at his office in the chapel.

Recently, after a Broadmoor employee's spouse fell ill, McBride made it a point to check in on the family regularly, at their home, to offer counseling and support.

"It's just that personal touch that Nathan has. That was pretty impactful for that employee. I know it was," Johnson said. "He's just a very open, personable, gregarious person. That's why this position, even though it's a very new position, has been so successful so far."

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Contact Stephanie Earls: 636-0364

The door opened and Broadmoor chaplain Nathan McBride issued a cheery greeting to a man in a business suit: "Good afternoon. Welcome! It's a joy to have you with us."

The man, a resort guest caught off guard by the sunny weather, wasn't looking for God. Just board shorts.

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