On March 26th & 27th, my wife Sheryl and I had the privilege of attending and speaking at the Billy Graham Association - Law Enforcement Appreciation Retreat at Hockley Valley Resort, ON. It was a wonderful opportunity to meet, encourage and pray for Christian police officers and their spouses who serve police agencies throughout Ontario.
Many CPCA chaplains will recognize John Kelsall (pictured here) whom I first met at our 2016 CPCA ATS in Orillia. In 2016, John presented an eye-opening account of his tour in Afghanistan to the CPCA chaplains. Although retired from active policing (TRU) within the OPP, John remains engaged in training police officers and has a security consultation business. He is also active with "Boots On the Ground." I was thrilled to get to know John better and meet his wonderful wife, Sharon. John speaks highly of Chaplain Charlie Swartwood and how Charlie has connected with him and other officers in the past.
The other police couple who presented, Det/Cst Denzil Morey with RCMP Fort McMurray and his wife Kim have become friends of ours through time spent together and experiences shared at this retreat, and in Kananaskis in Oct 2022. Denzil holds CPCA chaplains' Phil Sovdi and Robert Parmenter in high regards for the ministry they have provided to him and Kim and to other RCMP officers. Denzil agrees that Phil and Robert fulfill the "3 R's of Chaplaincy" - relevant, relatable, and reliable.
On a personal note, I was overjoyed hearing testimonies from various officers who have been impacted by our CPCA police chaplains. I hope each CPCA chaplain across our nation feels encouraged reading this - your service has made an impact upon the lives of many police officers and their families.
During one session I had the opportunity to share with the officers the vision of the CPCA and the mandate of police chaplaincy in Canada. Two officers, one retired and one with 12 years' service, approached me afterwards inquiring how to become chaplains for their past and current police agencies. The young officer felt a pull on his heart from God during the retreat, and I will be walking this process out with him in the months to come.
The two retreats occur annually so if you know married Christian police officers, please consider sending this link to them. Every couple we connected with felt encouraged and refreshed and valued by the end of the retreat. The next retreat will be in November in Kananaskis, AB. https://www.billygraham.ca/canadian-law-enforcement-retreat-ontario/
A big thank you to the event organizer Chaplain Merle Doherty (Manager of the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team) and RRT Coordinators Chaplain Holly and Chaplain Jennifer who combined made this event very meaningful for Sheryl and I and all those who attended. Thank you, Merle, and team, for our blessed shared adventures in 2022 and 2023.