By Kim Krull
Fires and other disasters make front-page news, but the work of chaplains who serve in such situations often goes unnoticed. That’s one reason LCMS World Relief/Human Care is hosting a first-time conference to provide support, training, and networking for Lutheran emergency-services chaplains, Nov. 13-14 in St. Louis.
Organizers say the conference was planned specifically for LCMS chaplains, but all Lutheran chaplains are welcome. They include chaplains who work with fire and police departments; emergency medical services; the FBI; Secret Service; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms; the U.S. Border Patrol; and in other emergency services.
“We don’t know exactly who our Lutheran emergency-services chaplains are, and the general public often doesn’t know they even exist,” said Rev. Bill Wagner, Beloit, Wis., a conference steering committee member and retired parish pastor who has served as a chaplain with police and fire departments since 1988. “This will be a chance to network and offer support to one another.”
The conference also aims to provide a more accurate count of LCMS chaplains, typically parish pastors with congregations who also serve their communities in unpaid positions.
Another objective is to help chaplains maintain their LCMS identity. “As Lutherans, we have the sound doctrine that reinforces the message of the Gospel,” Wagner said. “We can share that tragedy happens as a result of sin in the world, but that doesn’t mean God doesn’t care for people. As Lutheran chaplains, we have so much to offer.”
Plenary sessions and speakers for the conference, titled “Enriching and Networking Lutheran Emergency Services Chaplains,” include:
- “Theology for Mercy,” Rev. Matthew Harrison, executive director, LCMS World Relief/Human Care.
- “Self-Care,” Rev. W. Roger Stauffer of Midland, Mich., hospital, sheriff, and fire departments chaplain and member of a Spiritual Response Team for the American Red Cross.
- “Building Trust in Relationships or Building Trusting Relationships,” Rev. Richard Turner, Groves, Texas, parish pastor and voluteer FBI chaplain.
Workshops and leaders are:
- “Ethics: Confidential and Legal Implications,” LCMS legal counsel.
- “Two Kingdoms: Struggle for Christians Engaging in Emergency,” Rev. Stephen Lee, Caldwell, Idaho, executive director, Peace Officer Ministries.
- “Difference between Police and Fire Families/Different Agencies,” Rev. Don Hackbarth, Pleasant Prairie, Wis., parish pastor and police and fire chaplain.
- “Critical Incident Stress Management,” Rev. Bill Wagner, Beloit, Wis., police and fire departments chaplain.
- “Getting Your Congregation’s Support,” Rev. Jack Karch, pastor of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Rome, Ga., fire department chaplain, Cave Spring, Ga.
A grant from LCMS World Relief/Human Care enabled coordinators to make the conference as affordable as possible, Wagner said. The $50 registration fee includes one night’s lodging and three meals.
Registration must be completed by Oct. 1 and is limited to the first 150 participants. For a registration form or more information, contact Judy Ladage, (800) 248-1930, Ext. 1388, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted June 30, 2006