By Brian Blackwell, Message Staff Writer
MANGHAM – New Light Baptist Church recently paid tribute to three generations of law enforcement officers in its congregation.
The three men – Jerry Sr., Jerry Jr. and Jerry Spencer III – were recognized during the Dec. 16 service at New Light Baptist, which averages about 35 worshipers on Sunday mornings.
“It was unusual we had three generations of families that have been in law enforcement,” Pastor William Waller told the Baptist Message. “We thought it needed to be a special time in our service to ask for blessings in light of what has happened in recent months with law enforcement officers throughout the country.
“We recognized them not only as servants to the community but servants to this church for so long,” he added. “It is real heart-warming to know what these gentlemen have done.”
A FAMILY LEGACY
Collectively, the Spencers have served nearly 63 years in law enforcement.
The eldest Spencer developed a passion for becoming a peace officer when Lorell Graham, his cousin and Mangham police chief at the time, allowed the then-teenager to accompany him in a cruiser during patrols in the town.
When he turned 25 years old, in 1975, Spencer achieved his dream, earning a position on the Mangham police force. He worked there until he joined the Richland Parish Sheriff’s Office in 1987, and retired 25 years later.
Jerry Jr. joined his father at the Richland Parish Sheriff’s Office in 1995, and remained there until his dad retired in 2012. After a two-year stint as sergeant with the University of Louisiana at Monroe campus police, he became an investigator with the Louisiana State Police.
The youngest Spencer, Jerry III, joined the Richland Parish Sheriff’s Office after graduating in early December from North Delta Regional Academy in West Monroe.
Jerry Sr. said he is thankful for the opportunity to invest in the next generation of law enforcement, but especially in the Kingdom of God.
“In law enforcement, many times we have children and grandchildren who will follow us,” he said.
But he said instilling a desire to follow Christ in his progeny was even more important.
“Leaving a legacy is very important to me and my wife and we are proud of them,” he said. “It’s been a blessing to see my son and grandson baptized and serving so faithfully. I thank God that He has allowed me to experience being a part of His blessings.”
When they are not in the field, the Spencers are active members of New Light Baptist: Jerry Sr. assists with fellowship gatherings, Jerry Jr. serves as a deacon and Jerry III volunteers with the youth ministry.
“I believe they have used their faith in the Lord on the field,” Waller said. “Jesus said He didn’t come here to be served but that He came here to serve — which the Spencers have done in their profession.”
“My faith is what steers me through a lot of stuff I have dealt with,” Jerry Jr. said. “We don’t deal with people at their best many times, but rather with people at the worst time in their lives. My faith really helps carry me through the tragedies and what they have to go through. Having a faith background is what has carried me through.
“We are all put here to serve the Lord,” he continued. “Service to others is how we do that. Serving others is what the Lord intended us to do. It’s a satisfaction when you are able to serve someone and help people. A lot of times in law enforcement we are looked at as bad guys, and that is the only time the public deals with us, when they go through hard times or get traffic tickets. It gives me satisfaction knowing you can help someone to break the stigma.”