Chaplain Rev. Gregg Valentine, Morrison County Chaplain
Over the last four years of doing my job as Chaplain, I have had many people who have asked what the word means. The word chaplain comes from the early history of the Christian church. Traditionally, a story relates the compassion of a fourth century holy man named Martin who shared his cloak with a beggar. Upon the death of Bishop Martin, his cloak (capella in Latin) was enshrined as a reminder of the sacred act of compassion. The guardian of the capella became known as the chapelain, which transliterated into English became chaplain. Today the chaplain continues to guard the sacred and to share his or her cape out of compassion.
Chaplains are clergy persons, ordained and many with seminary training and specialized with masters degrees or higher who have dedicated themselves to serving and meeting the needs of the institution that they have joined. Many chaplains have joined law enforcement, corrections, hospitals, medical teams and fields, workplaces, small businesses, factories, poultry plants and even truck stops. One poultry plant owner realized his turn around of having to hire new workers was greatly reduced when the employees know they had a chaplain’s office to visit if they had personal problems.
Chaplaincy is growing in the state of Minnesota. When I started as a chaplain there were only eight full-time law enforcement chaplains out of 87 counties. Today, their are 16 full-time county chaplains in Minnesota.
Perhaps the most documented history in chaplaincy is in the area of military chaplaincy. From ancient times, chaplains have served the armies of the world. The Continental Congress recognized the need for professional chaplains and authorized salaries equal to regimental surgeons, thereby evaluating chaplaincy to a professional status.
Today, chaplains serve in all branches of the United States military as officers and professional caregivers. Chaplains are trained to theology, psychology, psychological development, counseling, debriefing and defusing. As Morrison County Chaplain, I can say I am proud to provide support to law enforcement, their families and the people they serve.
Next time you see a chaplain, be reminded that he or she was called to serve and he or she does it from their heart of compassion.