Out Of Tragedy, A Ministry Journey Began
By Chaplain Mark Guillet, Christ The Redeemer Church, Southbury,Connecticut
My journey in chaplaincy started shortly after the Sandy Hook School shootings in December of 2012. In the days following this horrible tragedy my pastor formed a committee at our church which I was a part of. This committee was needed because our church was the closest Southern Baptist church to the tragedy and churches from all over the country were sending bibles and cards and all kinds of things for us to help this community and the first responders. I also had a personal connection to this tragedy because I am a police officer. A friend of mine who is also a police officer is the chaplain for the Newtown Police Dept. He used to work with me at my Police Department years prior to this tragedy. God used this relationship to open doors into that community. It was over the next couple months that I realized the great need for Chaplains in all communities and I felt God's calling on my life in this area. It really fit with the gifts God has given me. Through this tragic event God put many chaplains in my path, one of which was Bruce James from the Baptist Convention of New England. Bruce pointed me to the training that the BCNE offers to train a person to be a Disaster Relief Chaplain. Over the next year or so I attended several training sessions at the BCNE which were taught by Dr. Naomi Paget, BCC, BCCC, BCETS, Fellow, American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stressand has been a chaplain for the FBI. What a blessing it was to be a part of this training.
Upon finishing this Disaster Relief Chaplain training I also applied for Chaplaincy endorsement through NAMB (the North American Mission Board). With my 20 years or so experience as a Police Officer and my Disaster Relief training along with my time in ministry I was able to obtain a dual endorsement through NAMB in Law Enforcement and Disaster Relief Chaplaincy in October of 2013. In August of 2014, I served for the first time ever as a Chaplain on Long Island, NY. This was following a storm that caused severe damage to homes in that area after flooding occurred. It was great to serve God during this time as we met with and prayed with families affected by the flooding. God kept confirming this call on my life through that disaster. It just felt natural to me.
In the fall of 2014 I saw a link on the BCNE website for further training as a Chaplain in CPE which is clinical pastoral education through APCC the Association of Professional Conservative Chaplains. Upon applying to this accredited school I started my first unit there in November of 2014. Through the APCC schooling I continued to realize God's calling on my life as a Chaplain. This schooling trained me in how to better minister to people in their time of need in a much deeper way as a Police Chaplain and as a Chaplain at my church. At the time of this article I have completed two full units of CPE and I am currently looking to complete my CPE training and become board certified as a Chaplain.
God brings people across my path almost everyday as a Police Officer who I could minister to as a Chaplain. My hope and prayer is that God will continue to work in and through me in a mighty way to help people in their time of need with this ministry. Its a great privilege to serve Him in this way.