Pastor with a Badge Advocates for Police Reform

There’s no contradiction for Rev. Jeremy Wicks and many of his colleagues in serving in law enforcement and advocating for social change. 

Currently, Rev. Wicks a UMC pastor, police chaplain, reserve police officer, and Black Lives Matter organizer. “In my heart, I honestly believe and my experience tells me that everyone is working toward the same goal,” said Rev. Wicks. “We want communities to be safe. We want people to flourish.”

Wicks is one of a handful of United Methodist clergy who have the dual experience of carrying a badge and being clergy. In their dual roles, chaplains like Rev. Wicks prays with police officers during crisis, disaster, and tragedy as well as serving a positive source of encouragement within his local department.

Another bivocational United Methodist clergy person serving in law enforcement, Rev. Dawn Houser says we should do more to try to understand the concerns of the communities we serve.  Rev. Houser stated, the Black Lives Matter Movement “is not like pie where if you get some, then I get less.”

Rather by looking at the issue of policing holistically, Houser is hoping to build relationships between the community and law enforcement that facilitate healthy mutually beneficial partnerships.

As protests continue to grow in the United States in response to the police killings of George Floyd and other unarmed African Americans, bivocational clergy and law enforcement officers will play a vital role in helping to create that balance.

In Portland, Oregon, the local annual conference of the United Methodist Church has simultaneously condemned the violence by some protesters and police.  However, head of the conference, Bishop Elaine J.W. Stanovsky, urged activists not to be distracted from the work to up-end racism.

Invoking the words of the late Rep. John Lewis, Rev. Jack Steiner said we need to create more “good trouble.” Steiner, a former police officer from Kentucky warns that local, state, and federal officials need to heed calls for justice.

Steiner said, “Jesus — the one whom we praise and love and want to go see at the end of our lives — calls for us to be one people.”

As mounting protests grow surrounding the use of federal use of force in Portland, the engagement of bivocational clergy is helping to shed new light on the issue of police reform in the United States

Source: UM News