Graduates of volunteer chaplaincy program prepare to serve community - East Idaho News

Graduates of volunteer chaplaincy program prepare to serve community

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IDAHO FALLS – Twelve people in Idaho Falls will soon be teaming up with law enforcement officers to become their first volunteer chaplains.

Pastor Tim Rupp and Senior Chaplain Christa Trinchera started Law Enforcement Chaplaincy of Idaho, a nonprofit training program, earlier this year. Rupp tells the ceremony for the first graduating class will be held Thursday in the fellowship hall of Watersprings Church.

“I’m encouraged by the passion from the volunteers that really want to serve the community,” Rupp says. “Out of the 12 people, nine different churches in Idaho Falls are represented.”

The ceremony starts at 7 p.m. and is open to the public.

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The 10-day training program consists of classroom and hands-on instruction. A large portion of it focuses on how to work with people going through crises, such as losing a home in a fire or losing a loved one in an accident.

Rupp says the role-playing scenarios in class were eye-opening for the participants.

“Actually having to tell someone that their loved one was killed or had died was tough for them to do, but they were able to get through it, and they appreciated the training,” says Rupp.

Class members trained alongside Air Idaho Rescue and Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office’s back-country deputies, dive team members, search and rescue, and K9 teams to learn protocols and best standards of practice while assisting them.

“Air Idaho said they would like to have a chaplain at the hospital when the victim lands. That’s a great opportunity to minister to the family,” Rupp says.

air idaho training
Courtesy Tim Rupp

Under Rupp’s program, two types of chaplains will be available. One is a community chaplain, who would serve as a liaison between first responders and the family. In this capacity, Rupp says the chaplain’s main role is to be there for people in their moment of grief to comfort and provide resources for them.

The second type of chaplain would minister specifically to law enforcement 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.

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Rupp wants to continue to enhance the lives of law enforcement and the community through this chaplaincy program.

“Twelve chaplains still isn’t enough to sufficiently staff 24-hour coverage,” Rupp says. “We want them to continue to train by making calls with officers and deputies.”

Rupp will also be training law enforcement on how to work with the chaplains.

A second chaplain academy will begin in October. Rupp says he hopes another 15 to 20 people will complete the course so that 25 to 30 chaplains are prepared to start in January.

If you’re interested in becoming a chaplain or learning more, fill out the form on the website.