Orthodox Christian Prison Ministry is guided by a talented and dedicated board. We want to begin highlighting their experience and expertise and will start our first feature spotlight with Dr. Carla Thomas, MD, FAAFO, CEM!
In September of 1978, Dr. Carla Thomas left Cincinnati, OH, packed up all her belongings and went to Boston, MA. She was young, proud and full of dreams. She wanted to be a research subspecialist in immunology and create limbs for soldiers who had been injured. She landed in Logan Airport, but her luggage did not. All bravado disappeared. She had nothing but the clothes on her back and her wallet. Then she suddenly remembered the number on the patch of paper in the crevice of her wallet. She called Fr. Moses Berry, an Orthodox priest and friend of her cousin. Fr. Moses made arrangements for someone to pick Carla up and take her to the dorm. She came to the Orthodox church that Sunday and never left.
In June 1982 Dr. Carla graduated, married a fellow Harvard Law School student named Cleo and moved to Alabama. She finished a Family Medicine residency and opened a practice in 1985. In June of 1988, Dr. Carla was welcomed into the Orthodox Church. She drove 180 miles each week to attend St John the Wonderworker Orthodox Church in Atlanta.
In 2006 some of Dr. Carla’s nursing home patients insisted that she take them to church. She realized that the time had come to put down Orthodox roots in Alabama. She called His Eminence Ab Dmitri (of blessed memory). Less than a week later, to her surprise, he arrived at her office for evening prayers. Stamping his crozier on the waiting room floor Metropolitain Dmitri planted St. Luke Orthodox Mission.
Dr. Carla was baptized in the name of St. Panteleimona (after St. Panteleimon, who was an unmercenary physician of Christ, meaning care is provided for free). To live up to her baptismal name, she founded the Abba Moses Free Clinic where Dr. Carla charges no fees. The clinic serves adults in underserved communities who are likely to be uninsured. The clinic offers many patients their first experience with Orthodoxy as Orthodox icons and materials designed for beginners are present in the rooms. Often materials are loaned out or purchased from the Sts. Cosmas & Damian bookstore which resides in the office. No matter the reason for coming to the clinic, they can expect care and a chance for prayer.
Dr. Carla Thomas is also a board member of Axia (Orthodox Woman) and St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary. She is the founder of the Anniston Chapter of the Fellowship of St. Moses the Black.