What community in Canada is closed to the church? There are actually many communities in Canada where Christians are not permitted to freely enter and engage with the residents. Have you guessed? They are the police stations, hospitals, prisons, nursing homes, military bases, fire halls, school campuses of our nation.
It is becoming more difficult for clergy to enter these communities to be the hand and feet of Jesus. However, over 70 Fellowship chaplains seek to provide the presence of Christ on a daily basis in these closed communities across Canada.
I recently heard chaplain Garry Francis talk about this reality in his own ministry as a police chaplain. Listen to the special access our chaplains receive in places the church or clergy no longer have the privilege of access.
“As a police chaplain I’m given a badge and an ID card which gives me “access” to people and places that are “out of bounds” for the majority of our population. I consider it an exceptional opportunity and a tremendous honour to have access behind the division/headquarters counters/doors and beyond the “blue line” to access the hearts and minds of the people in those restricted areas.
“Here are some of the places God has opened up and has given police chaplain’s access:
Access to the division as a divisional chaplain, Access to their police jurisdiction headquarters, Access to any division or headquarters across the entire country (the police brotherhood), The platoons in their division, The staff sergeant – the “gate keeper” for the platoons on the road, The people who care for specialized units in their division (major crime, drugs, sex crimes, school, community, fraud, etc.), The staff – maintenance, administration, clerical, etc., The command – Inspector and Division Superintendent,
“Here are some of the unique circumstances that police chaplains have access:
To offer assistance to officers at ball games, concerts, traffic, parades, etc., To offer assistance to officers behind “police tape” or in “a controlled scene” (never access to an active scene) if one is trained for Critical Incident Stress Management, Police chaplains also have unique access to offer assistance to airport security because their “badge” is recognized while going through airport screening/ scanning.
“The Great Commission encourages us to preach the Gospel at home, beyond our home, and to the uttermost parts of the world… as police chaplains “the badge” gives us access to people and places in restricted areas everywhere we go.”
Our Fellowship Chaplaincy ministry is home to 72 chaplains seeking to demonstrate the love of Christ in their ministry of presence.
Several of our pastors became “volunteer” Fellowship chaplains this past year as a means to be credentialed, so they might access differing closed communities in their neighbourhood.