Pastors serving the county’s finestPublished 11:42am Tuesday, June 5, 2012
By CHRISTINE BOATWRIGHT / Staff Writer
Pastors and those called to minister to the masses lead tough lives. They have to see the sometimes hurting, the hurtful and the ugly side of people, and that’s just the churchgoing crowd! These men and women sacrifice to bring their faith and calling to their congregations, and they serve 24 hours a day, seven days a week to do so.
This is why I was in awe as I heard retired pastor Mac Stinson talk about the Shelby County Sheriff Chaplain program. Stinson is one of about 25 chaplains, men and women, volunteering to serve this county’s sheriff’s deputies. Most of the chaplains still lead their own churches in addition to volunteering as chaplains.
I interviewed Stinson for a faith story about the program, and he invited me to attend their monthly meeting at the Sheriff’s Training Center.
The meeting began with about 13 chaplains, men of faith, sharing prayer requests for fellow chaplains or deputies in need. They followed the requests with a prayer for the safety of the deputies and their families.
Sheriff Chris Curry thanked the chaplains for their dedication, as the program is all-volunteer and has been running since 1994.
“You all are a reminder that there really are good people out there,” Curry said, as his deputies regularly face the “seven percent” of the population that fails to follow the law.
To become a chaplain, applicants must have at least five years of ministerial experience. Stinson said the chaplain training can’t teach someone to have a pastor’s heart, but years of experience can. That compassionate heart is necessary, as chaplains accompany deputies to give death notices to the families of those who have passed away from accidents, suicides or other tragedies in the county.
Stinson said he felt God calling him to join the chaplain program in 1995, and it has been a “very rewarding experience” ever since.
The chaplains sometimes accompany deputies on their routes to get to know the deputies and how they can better minister to them.
I admire this group of selfless volunteers for giving of themselves, their ministries and their time to minister to those who serve this county.
For more information about the chaplain program, visit Shelbyso.com/chaplains.
Christine Boatwright is a staff writer for the Shelby County Reporter. She can be reached at 669-3131 ext. 14 or by email at christine.boatwright@Shelbycountyreporter.com.