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Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Chaplains, and Padres.

It was the kind of headline that immediately caught my attention! "Padres should be cherished, ..." My interest stemmed from the fact that, for some eight months now, I have been a Force Chaplain with Strathclyde Police, attached to 'Q' Division (South Lanarkshire). How pleased my late dad would have been!

The remainder of the article wasn't as interesting as the headline, but it did prompt me to think about my own function within the Force. I enjoy walking around the Force Training Centre and being shown a level of respect that I received from only a few pupils in my latter years in the teaching profession. The Chief Constable is quite a pleasant man with whom to have a conversation. I am on first name terms with more senior officers than I have hot breakfasts in a month (and a bowl of porridge is still my regular morning meal!). I am invited to a variety of functions where I have the opportunity to socialise with some of those who are deemed to be 'important people'! (Gal.2:9 is an interesting verse!).

And, for some of my fellow-chaplains, that does appear to be the extent of their involvement. For me, however, the post (totally voluntary!) is much more than that. It's an 'availability' position. I am not there to be the Christian Evangelist to the Force (although if the Chief would like to consider the establishment of such a post, I would be very interested in applying!). I am there to provide, when necessary and/or requested, a spiritual input to men and women who do often work in very stressful, dangerous, and even life-threatening, circumstances. I look on the post as an opportunity to get to know, not just the senior management, but the 'troops' - the P.Cs. and Sergeants, who are out on patrol covering every hour of the day, and every day of the week. I am endeavouring to meet as many as possible, and my greatest encouragement is when I see an officer in Hamilton, or when I am walking through the Divisional H.Q. - and I receive a smile of recognition, and a cheery greeting.

I have also become an Associate Member of the Christian Police Association, and am finding many opportunities to serve through that organisation - the oldest police support organisation in existence! That has introduced me to COACT - an initiative that encourages Christian congregations and fellowships to actively pray for the police in their area. It is my hope that, in the early autumn, I will be able to encourage a number of groups in South Lanarkshire to provide that specific form of support for the local Force.

At the CPA Branch Meeting last night, I was speaking on Rom.13:1 - "Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God." (RSV). I made the point that, although most people seem to interpret those words as applying solely to the elected government, it also applies to police officers! However, by extending that idea, I find myself turning to I Tim.2:1-2 - "First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings, be made for all men; for kings, and all who are in high positions (i.e. positions of authority), that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way."

There is the reason why we should be careful to support, not only the government - national and local - but also the police, in prayer. I commend that exercise to all. Oh, and please feel free to pray for the chaplains also!!!

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