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Local pastor beginning new chaplaincy to serve law enforcement and victims in eastern Idaho

Faith & Family

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Courtesy Tim Rupp

IDAHO FALLS — As law enforcement work to keep the community safe, they often find themselves in situations where they are called upon to provide comfort or support to victims of a tragedy.

Sometimes that can be an emotional burden on officers, which is why one local pastor is beginning a new ministerial chaplaincy program to support law enforcement and victims during tough situations.

“A lot of times we have lost hikers up in the woods, lost hunters, snowmobilers, and so forth. When the family is waiting, a chaplain would be able to minister to them,” Cop Church Pastor Tim Rupp tells EastIdahoNews.com.

Under Rupp’s program, chaplains would be volunteers in the community trained to go and make calls with law enforcement. Two types of chaplains would be available. One is a community chaplain, which would serve as a liaison between the agency and the family by answering questions and providing additional support or resources. The second type of chaplain would minister specifically to law enforcement officers.

“Community chaplains are kind of the entry-level chaplain. Once you’re vetted and accepted you’d receive some training,” Rupp says. “Once they go through the first stage of being a community chaplain, they could receive extra training to become a law enforcement chaplain.”

Law Enforcement chaplains would work with officers who have been involved in a shooting or other traumatic event.

The chaplain’s job would not include proselyting for a specific denomination, Rupp says, but they would be able to provide spiritual guidance if the person or officer requested it.

Rupp stepped down from a career with the San Antonio, Texas Police Department to become a pastor in Idaho Falls in 2007. After several years, he began volunteering as a reserve deputy with Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office, and that opened doors for another type of ministry. He and others helped form Cop Church in 2017 to help provide officers a place to worship with their families in an atmosphere where they feel most comfortable.

RELATED | Finding Faith: The idea behind Cop Church, and how it’s helping the men in blue come closer to Christ

Rupp wants to continue to enhance the lives of law enforcement and the community through this chaplaincy program. He is hoping to gain support for the idea next week when he meets with the Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office, Idaho Falls Police Department and other agencies.

Rupp is hoping to have the program up and running later this year and he wants to provide it free of charge to volunteers and members of the community. But Rupp says there will be some operating costs involved.

“Although the chaplains are volunteers, they need training and they need uniforms to wear. There are administrative costs involved in all of this,” Rupp says. “We’re going to ask the agencies we serve to provide help in funding the program. If an organization or business wants to donate, we will accept donations.”

If you’re interested in becoming a chaplain or learning more, you’re invited to attend next week’s Cop Church service, where they will be discussing this program. It’s happening Tuesday, Jan. 14 at 6:30 p.m. inside the River of Life Church at 525 S. Boulevard in Idaho Falls.

There will also be a minister’s chili luncheon at the church that same day. It begins at noon.

“We are starting this from ground zero, and right now that means zero money. We’re putting our own money into this and trying to get it going to be a service here in southeast Idaho,” Rupp says.