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Md. police chaplain offers hope to those asking ‘Why?’

LUSBY, Md. (BP)–Dennis Felder, a church planter for the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware and a chaplain for the Maryland State Police, is aware that God knows the desires of our heart.

“Like so many boys dream, I wanted to be a policeman when I grew up,” Felder said. “However, God had different plans for me. Although I surrendered to the ministry, I always had a passion for police work.

“I had no doubt that God wanted me in the ministry, but He still knew that I enjoyed police work. About six years ago, Bill Miller [a chaplain for Maryland State Police and fellow pastor] asked if I would be interested in becoming a chaplain for the Maryland State Police. This was a God-sent opportunity. I was able to be involved in the life of police officers and continue to serve as a pastor.”

Felder provides counseling for the police officers and administrative personnel, provides grief training and prays at police functions and death notifications.

“Each and every time that I have to sit down with a family and deliver tragic news about the death of their loved one, it makes me look deeper into my spiritual life,” said Felder, who is assigned to the Prince Frederick barracks in Calvert County. “Even at times I find myself asking the question, ‘Why?’ Even Christ, at the point of death, asked, ‘Why hath thou forsaken me?’

“Death never makes sense. None of us have the guarantee that we will live forever here on earth. However, we have the guarantee that we can live forever with Christ if we know Him as Lord and Savior. Each time I give a notification, it confirms the promise that Jesus made to me — that He has prepared a place for me in heaven. Death is not the end, but only the beginning.”

Felder is also involved in a program called Camp COPS (Courage to be Outstanding with Pride and Self-confidence). This is a free program where over 100 Calvert County middle school children learn about the life of a police officer and learn about self-discipline. Felder, along with members of his former church, Dunkirk Church, provide the food and say a prayer before each meal.

Felder is also a recipient of the 2001 Chaplain of the Year award. According to Ernest Wilkinson of the Fair Practice Unit for the Maryland State Police, there are 40 chaplains assigned to units in Maryland.

Lieutenant Homer Rich, commander of the Prince Frederick State Police barracks where Felder is assigned, nominated Felder for the award.

“I am not a religious person but I respect him as a person,” Rich said. “He is someone to lean on and he is there when you (the barracks) need him. It’s amazing to me. He goes above and beyond the call of duty and he wants no recognition. He does it because it is the right thing to do.”
Used by permission from Baptist Life, newsjournal of the Baptist Convention of Maryland and Delaware. (BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: SERVING THOSE WHO SERVE.

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  • Stacey Barkley