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The Pastor as Volunteer

The Possibilities and Pitfalls of Serving Outside Your Church

Nine o'clock on a warm May evening found me cruising our little town in a police car. With a loaded shotgun racked in place in front of me and a cautiously friendly officer beside me, my first shift as the volunteer police chaplain was passing uneventfully.

The radio interrupted our conversation: "6-L-ll, we have a report of a 594 at the Mexican Deli." Expecting something big, I asked, "What's that?" "Not much. Just malicious mischief."

It was not hard to determine the guilty party at the deli, but the officer soon found more excitement than he expected. When an arrest became necessary, an unruly crowd grew menacing. While I watched, a girl called me a "narc" and then proceeded to inform me that "Narcs should be burned!"

Tremendous, I thought. I've just been threatened.

In a moment the same girl grabbed the officer, who was struggling to handcuff her friend, and I decided that maybe I should become involved. I removed her hand from the officer. She delivered a roundhouse slap across my face. ...

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