Tennessee Highway Patrol ChaplainsPosted: June 19, 2014 Filed under: Bishop's Blog 5 Comments
Guest Blogger: Reverend Randy Brown
It was a day that I didn’t see coming but I can now look back on it and see God’s hand in it. Years ago in a different appointment, I was asked to take the months of August and September and teach a Bible Study with some of the inmates at the county jail who were in the re-entry program of which one of my church members was the director. At first it was with fear, trembling, and hesitation on my part that I agreed to serve in that capacity. Each year I was in that appointment when my months rolled around, I met those weekly meetings with excitement.
Moving to a different appointment last year, I wondered how and where God would open a door in the community for me to serve, in addition to the local church to which I am appointed. Through conversations and God moments, our local Police Chief (who is very active in Manchester First United Methodist Church) has a use for me to serve in a Chaplains role and has given my name to the Tennessee Highway Patrol, which has a great need for Chaplains for the troopers who are out on our interstate roads and highways. They are looking for at least one Chaplain in each county, and I believe there is a calling for United Methodist Pastors in the Tennessee and Memphis Conferences to help meet that need.
The Troopers and their families are the THP Chaplains main emphasis. Many of them that I have met are very active in their local churches and are grateful for the spiritual support that a Chaplain will give to them.
When I have asked the troopers, “How can a Chaplain be of most help to you?”, the answer has almost immediately been, “Marriage and Family Counseling.” These troopers deal with stressful situations that are hard for us to imagine. There is a very high divorce rate among law enforcement personnel. At the end of an eight to twelve hour shift, they go back to a loving family and the environment is different, but they are still dealing with the situations they faced while on the road that day. We all know that sometimes that is hard to handle.
To understand this better, one of the opportunities that THP Chaplains have is to do a “Ride-Along” with a trooper for part or all of their shift. June 18, 2014, was the day I did my first “Ride-Along”. You cannot describe it, you just need to experience it. You go where they go, you watch them do their job, etc. This is where you build relationships, trust, and begin to understand just a little of what the troopers go through. Their job is a lot like our ministry, we never know from day to day what we will be called on to do. As time goes on and this program grows, THP hopes to provide training and certification for all volunteer chaplains. I hope that each one of you will prayerfully consider this ministry as you look to have influence and impact beyond the walls of your local church appointment.
May we prayerfully support our Troopers, and all other First Responders as they serve to keep us safe. Some times they feel forgotten and undervalued. I am not sure, but I think they might need to be added to the list of the forgotten ones that appear in the last part of Matthew 25. Who better to show them appreciation than United Methodist Clergy.
If you are interested in volunteering and serving this way, please let me know and I can put you in contact with the proper folks.
Rev. Randy Brown
First United Methodist Church
Great to see your post, Randy. Hope you’re fielding a lot of supportive emails. Also great to see that THP is planning training for its current and prospective chaplains. The chaplains will need each other’s support – I hope no one will be allowed to do this alone.
I work with a CPE program here in the Toledo area, and one of our Supervisors created a program to train fire dept. chaplains. Perhaps a Supervisor at Methodist Healthcare could be a good resource for developing the training there.
I am interested in joining the chaplaincy ride a long program. I was about to join a local program in Fort Worth called CAPA (Cops and Pastors Alliance) however my wife and I have been reassigned to Tennessee just recently and I have been looking to find one locally. I am in the Johnson City Area. It would be great if you could get me into contact with the proper person.
Thanks and many Blessings
My Field Education while at Seminary at Vanderbilt was with the Metropolitan Police Department. I was closely involved with the officers in every facet of their work. I helped teach stress management classes and support groups for officers going through divorce. I am well aware of the demands of this kind of stressful job and the difficulty of transitioning back to a “normal” life with family and friends. If there is anyway I can help in Fentress County, let me know.
As a former SLP in the Memphis Conference and patrolman in Arkansas, I can tell you the need for volunteer chaplains is of the utmost importance. From 1995-2005, I volunteered a lot of time meeting with officers and their families when requested. They carry a lot of stress in their lives for what they see while on duty and then what they take home. I was also humbled in being called by God to conduct death notifications to family members after an incident or accident. There is a need.
Jason A Beck
Randy, I am in Dyer County. I am retired as a Army National Guard chaplain and would be willing to be considered as a Highway Patrol chaplain. Did not see an e-mail above, so I have posted this comment.