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Help during difficult times

Chaplains respond to personal, family crisis

Photo by Kim Fundingsland/MDN DeVawn Beckman, associate pastor at West Minot Church of God, is also a chaplain for the Minot Police Department. Beckman is a former dispatch operator for the department.

Unknown to many, they play a vital role in the community. They are chaplains who provide emotional and spiritual care to anyone, no matter what their religious beliefs.

Mark Henson is a board certified chaplain and director of pastoral services for Trinity Health. He is one of four full-time chaplains at the hospital. They are available to help in a wide variety of situations for patients, family and staff, in the most caring manner possible.

The religion of a person is not a deterrent for receiving spiritual care. Chaplains minister to everyone, regardless of beliefs. They are trained to deal with a wide variety of possibilities, including working alongside terminally ill patients and their families. Chaplains are called up to provide strength to others when they may be consumed with grief or overwhelmed with caring for a loved one.

Chaplains also play important roles in the law enforcement community, such as Minot Police, Ward County Sheriff’s Office and Highway Patrol. DeVawn Beckman is one of three volunteer chaplains often called upon by law enforcement. She became familiar with the difficulties that are often faced by families, victims and uniformed officers while serving as the Minot PD public information manager for more than 30 years.

“I saw a lot of the ugly in the world. It was something in my heart that I wanted to be available for,” said Beckman.

Photos by Kim Fundigsland/MDN Mark Henson, director of pastoral services for Trinity Health, is a board certified chaplain who is called upon to assist patients and family members in times of need.

Beckman obtained her ministry credentials which made her eligible to serve as a chaplain. She is currently the associate pastor at the West Minot Church of God but, as a chaplain, is often called upon by law enforcement for assistance.

“I’ve used chaplains quite a bit over my career,” said Robert Roed, Ward County sheriff. “If we do a death notification we’ll have a chaplain go to the house with us. The chaplain is there for the compassion part of it.”

Chaplains are available to assist members of law enforcement too, many of whom encounter difficult situations that can effect their emotional well being.

“There are times when officers are impacted strongly by the situation they are dealing with,” said Beckman. “We give them some tools that are beneficial to help them get through. I’ve been involved on several occasions with critical incident stress debriefing.”

The chaplaincy program at the Minot Police Department, said Beckman, traces it roots back to a program first created in Cleveland, Tennessee in 1978. She says Dan Draovitch, a former Minot Chief of Police, established the program in Minot.

People are very appreciative of what chaplains do. It is their reward for being there for people. Often chaplains are called upon to respond to a trying and emotional situation at any hour of any day. Sometimes that means the three volunteers serving local law enforcement could use additional help.

“It’s a volunteer organization that fall under police department authority,” explained Beckman. “There’s the Sheriff’s Office too and occasionally Highway Patrol and other cities within Ward County. If there’s a need for a chaplain we’re available.”

The role of the chaplain

“As chaplains we provide a ministry of listening, emotional and spiritual support to patients in the hospital and their families. We do not enter the room with a set agenda or the desire to impose our beliefs on them, rather we respond to the needs of the patient helping them get in touch with their own spirituality and how it impacts their healing and their lives.

“We respond to moments of crisis providing support to family: Traumas, injuries, code blues (cardiac arrest), deaths, and other emergencies that arise.

“We provide a pastoral presence to patients and families by making routine visits throughout the hospital especially in the ICU.

“We provide education and support helping patients complete “Health Care Directives” for end of life decisions.

“We provide support to the community through speaking engagements, doing fifth steps for those going through addiction rehabilitation, and doing funerals for those who have no church affiliation.

“As chaplains we are on call 24/7, able to respond to the emergencies and needs that arise.”

Source: Trinity Health

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