When John Hebert and Clovis Sturdivant spent time together at the Baptist Building recently, it was for more than just to share a cup of coffee.
ALEXANDRIA – When John Hebert and Clovis Sturdivant spent time together at the Baptist Building recently, it was for more than just to share a cup of coffee.
Hebert, Louisiana Baptist Convention’s Region 4 (Central Louisiana) missions strategist, and Sturdivant, director of missions in Jackson, Winn and Shady Grove Baptist Associations, met to discuss chaplaincy ministry in the state.
Chaplains are people assigned to be a spiritual leader in a non-church setting such as a hospital, military installation, police/fire department, prison and, increasingly, in the workplace.
“I haven’t been able to give chaplaincy any attention,” said Hebert, who is responsible for 50 or more church and/or community ministry centers statewide, and for ministry to an unknown number of chaplains across the state who are affiliated with Southern Baptists, in addition to his work with associations and churches in Central Louisiana.
Despite his workload, Hebert did provide assistance at least twice in the recent past to Sturdivant, the DOM said. Sturdivant, certified by the International Conference of Police Chaplains, and an 8-year police/fire chaplain, had received Hebert’s – and the LBC’s – assistance in sponsoring two chaplaincy awareness events.
However, more attention needs to be given to meeting the needs of chaplains, Hebert said, so recently he asked Sturdivant to be the chaplaincy coordinator in Louisiana, and Sturdivant agreed.
One major need for chaplains is their continuing education, Sturdivant said. Many employers require chaplains to receive additional training each year in a work-related skill such as Clinical Pastoral Counseling.
“As far as we know, there is no place for chaplains to go on the internet to find out what kind of continuing education classes there are for chaplains in Louisiana,” Sturdivant said. “You have to go to each organization that offers the classes, and if you’re not aware an organization exists, you don’t know where to look – but the one you don’t know about might be the one that best fits into your schedule.”
Sturdivant and Hebert are working with the LBC Communications team to add a link to the LBC website – www.lbc.org — for chaplains, which would list all upcoming classes.
“We wouldn’t be promoting these things, just announcing them,” Sturdivant said.
Networking is another need chaplains have, Sturdivant said. To illustrate that need, the chaplaincy coordinator spoke of a prison inmate who heard that his mother was in intensive care in a hospital at the other end of the state. The inmate got more and more agitated, thinking about his mother’s need of him.
If there were a network of chaplains, the prison chaplain could connect with the hospital chaplain for the exchange of essential information.
“Sometimes just knowing an update on her condition would settle him down,” Sturdivant said.
A third benefit of a chaplaincy coordinator would be to provide information to help chaplains interested in obtaining endorsement from the North American Mission Board. Only active, involved members of Southern Baptist churches can receive NAMB endorsement, Sturdivant explained. NAMB’s endorsement follows a local church’s commissioning of the individual for service as a chaplain.
Job postings and resume services also could be a part of the LBC.org website link, Sturdivant said.
God led him into law enforcement through his police officer son, Sturdivant said. Early in his son’s career, he ran into a situation where he needed a chaplain, and none was available. Sturdivant went to be with him, and help him through the first stages of trauma recovery.
“God simply said, ‘you can’t follow that boy around all his life,’ and I told Him I’d take care of police officers where I live, if He’d send someone to take care of them where my son was,” Sturdivant said. “I went to the chief of police in Winnfield. He said he didn’t need a chaplain, but he did need a reserve officer [one who helps with crowd control, for the most part] so I became one, and it grew from there.
“Now, as a chaplain I have a heart for people who do chaplaincy,” the DOM continued. “Chaplains need the support of people in our churches. Let’s face it: People aren’t coming to our churches like they used to, so let’s go to them. That’s what chaplains do.”
For more information or to add your name to the chaplain’s database, email Sturdivant firstname.lastname@example.org — that’s missions plural – or call him at 318.395.0019.