Fifty-eight fire and police chaplains, clergy, emergency responders, and mental health professionals from 7 states (Maryland, Michigan, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Washington) came to Hermitage on June 5 & 6 to learn about “Strategic Response to Crisis.”  The advanced seminar from the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation was led by Peter Volkmann, M.S.W., chief of the Chatham NY Police Department, and regional director of the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation for the eastern U.S. & Puerto Rico.

      St. Paul’s United Church of Christ sponsored this ninth annual chaplain training seminar, together with the Hermitage Fire Department and Hermitage Police Department.  Many thanks to Marlyn Choffel, Karen Graham, Barb Battyanyi, and Cindy Murdoch for assisting our pastor in hosting the event.


      One of the highlights of this year’s seminar was the presentation of the Legion of Honor Humanitarian Award from the Chapel of Four Chaplains to Chaplain William Lotz, D.Min., of West Richland, Washington.  He is the director of the Training Institute for the Federation of Fire Chaplains, and served as the instructor for the 2009 and 2015 seminars in Hermitage.
      According to the Chapel of Four Chaplains, “the Humanitarian Award is given for a lifetime or a career of outstanding humanitarian service which has profoundly affected the quality of life in one’s community or nation.”
      Dr. Lotz created the Federation of Fire Chaplains’ manual in 2004, which is the basis for the Essentials of Fire Chaplaincy course and several advanced courses.  He entered the fire chaplaincy as a volunteer in 1988 while he was still a full-time pastor, but transitioned into full-time paid chaplaincy (after completing a Doctor of Ministry degree in the field), providing spiritual and emotional care to multiple fire and emergency medical service departments in southeast Washington State.  He’s on the faculty of the National Police and Fire Chaplain Academy.  And he has gone on a number of trips with Medical Teams International, teaching pre-hospital emergency medical and spiritual care to people in impoverished nations.
      The Chapel of Four Chaplains, based in Philadelphia, is a national non-profit organization which celebrates the story of four Army chaplains in World War II – George L. Fox, Alexander D. Goode, Clark V. Poling, and John P. Washington – who, after giving their life jackets to soldiers who had none, linked arms with one another, prayed, and went down with the U.S. Army Transport DORCHESTER after it was torpedoed on February 3, 1943, in the Atlantic Ocean.
       Presenting the Humanitarian Award on behalf of the Chapel of Four Chaplains were Hermitage Police Chief Eric Jewell and Hermitage Fire Chief John Flynn.