Course for ‘a ministry of presence’ is the first of its kind in Bexar County
San Antonio Express News
By Elaine Ayala
July 16, 2016
For the first time in Bexar County, 20 volunteer chaplains have received training to care and counsel sheriff’s deputies in what’s described as “a ministry of presence.”
Bexar County Sheriff's Office volunteer chaplain Bette Huereca, right, speaks with Sheriff Deputy Michelle Grabowski.The Ecumenical Center created the Chaplains for Justice Training Program, an intensive 14-week course accredited by the College of Pastoral Supervision and Psychotherapy. It’s considered a rarity in law enforcement, and the training is a first here.
Faith leaders and ministers long have worked in the county’s jail system, focused on the spiritual needs of inmates. Less attention has gone to the emotional well-being of law enforcement officers, though there is a growing recognition of its importance, most recently after the killings of five Dallas officers by a sniper during a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest.
The Sheriff’s Office began recruiting volunteer chaplains in 2013, spurred by the suicide of a detention officer that year. Its 14 chaplains received the training,and several others who graduated with them could help bolster their numbers, officials said. The county has a separate set of chaplains who minister to inmates.
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