Thirty-four men and women of all ages and religions came together July 7, 2018, to graduate as chaplaincy ministry assistants under the International Alliance of Chaplains Law Enforcement organization. Seeing the program for the first time in New York, Lieutenant Colonel Freddy A. Sanchez, D.Min., introduced the idea of starting a satellite program in Florida to Arnaldo Cruz, pastor of Pilgrim Hispanic Church in Miami Springs, Fla., and Roger Alvarez, Southeastern Conference Hispanic ministries director. Shortly thereafter, they began to contact pastors in both the Florida and Southeastern conferences to find recruits.
To earn their certifications, the future chaplaincy ministry assistants had to participate in a 10-hour training that was held at Pilgrims Hispanic Church. Their education consisted of six major subjects: (1) evacuation, (2) natural disasters, (3) emergencies, (4) spiritual support, (5) hospital and general chaplaincy, and (6) security and terrorism.
Officiating the ceremony on Sabbath was Luis Paniagua, D.Min., commander in chief of the alliance. Also lending support to the event was Hiran Ruiz, director of the Inter-American Division chaplaincy ministry; David Peay, assistant to the president of the Southeastern Conference; Roger Alvarez; Arnaldo Cruz; and Freddy A. Sanchez, director of the alliance for Florida.
The graduates marched into the sanctuary in their uniforms, followed by the officers of the alliance. A short ceremony highlighted the work of chaplaincy, and then the graduates received their certificates and motivation from the commander in chief. Later, Paniagua and Peay received a medal for their service to Southeastern Conference and the community.
Each graduate exited the sanctuary with new responsibilities. From that moment, they would be required to be available through the Church to help the community in cases of natural disasters or emergencies. They must dedicate their time and effort to serving the community in any way possible; provide spiritual support to those they see in need, collaborate with law enforcement to ensure the safety of others; and carry joy, hope, and love into jails and hospitals — and most importantly, to lift their voices in prayer for their brothers and sisters in Christ, and ask for heavenly wisdom and courage to carry out these tasks as soldiers in God’s army.
Southeastern | October 2018