At the age of 78, Jim Powell is on-call 24/7. Since 1997, he has served as the volunteer chaplain for the Oldham County Police Department. Although no longer pastoring full-time, he enjoys serving alongside the officers. Whether riding along in a police cruiser, chatting over a meal, or helping a panhandler find a place to stay for the night, Jim delights in his job of bringing joy, generosity and the love of Jesus to others.
As a police chaplain, Jim thrives on the action and community. He began serving as a chaplain at the Ashland Police Department in 1980, and has no plans to retire.
“Everything about a police officer I like,” Jim said. “They’re great guys and gals. I tell the new ones that policemen don’t win every fight they get in, but if we get in a fight, I’m in there with them.”
Jim has proved that statement over and over by responding to calls, no matter the time or the weather. Sometimes the calls turn out to be nothing, but showing up is most important.
“If you don’t go when they call you, they won’t call you again,” Jim said.
One night, Jim did a ride along with an officer who pulled over a car with a person wanted for armed robbery. Jim’s practice on all traffic stops is to get out of the car and stand by the cruiser’s door or the rear of the stopped vehicle. This time, he instinctively reached for the shotgun the officer had stowed in his car and racked it. Following the stop, Jim asked the officer if he had done the right thing.
“That was the sweetest sound in the world, you racking that gun,” the policeman said.
Jim builds friendship and trust by listening to what they have to say on patrol or in the squad room. If they ride together over the supper or lunch hour, Jim will buy their meal so they can visit. The first Wednesday of every month, Jim also treats all police officers to the local Cracker Barrel for breakfast. Some state policemen also regularly attend.