April Alford-Harkey is passionate about her work as a hospice chaplain. “Sometimes they ask what’s next for them, and on my best days I get to reassure them that they’re not alone. They’re going to be with God. As a Christian, being able to do that rocks!”
April has Southern roots but grew up in New England. She and her wife Marie relocated to South Florida from Connecticut in September of 2019 after Marie received the call to become senior pastor of Metropolitan Community Church of the Palm Beaches. (Metropolitan Community Churches is a global denomination founded by and for LGBTQ people.)
The couple settled in Palm Beach Gardens and April landed a job with Vitas Hospice. “I provide spiritual care and support at the end of people’s lives.” Her four-legged companion, Sandy, a yellow lab, offers bonus support. “Her love is unconditional—she doesn’t discriminate.”
April visited several churches, searching for a good fit. “When I came to St. Andrew’s initially, I felt extremely comfortable. People got up out of their pews to greet us. They asked if I had a bulletin and everything I needed, and I thought, ‘I could hang out here!’ The sermons were inclusive and really talked about what was going on in the world—it wasn’t just rhetoric.” This appealed to April, who recently celebrated four years as an ordained Deacon in the Episcopal Church. “A Deacon’s mandate is to proclaim the Gospel out in the community, so I felt like I was getting good information.”
Then COVID hit. But she’s recently returned to in-person worship, attending St. Andrew’s Saturday 4:30 p.m. service with Sandy by her side. “The idea of coming to church scared me, but after recent political events, I felt like I really needed church—I needed to connect with people. It’s part of my self-care. There’s something comforting about it all, especially reciting passages from the Book of Common Prayer. I need that ritual.”
5 Questions for April Alford-Harkey
What is your favorite hymn? “Welcome Happy Morning”
What is something not many people know about you? I love the movie Shrek. It cracks me, I don’t know why.
Do you prefer singing in the shower or your car? I’m a shower singer.
What service do you usually attend? Saturday, 4:30 p.m.
How would you St. Andrew’s in a word or phrase? “Comfortable.”