Jackson Mayor Adds Chaplains To Township Service

Photo by Jennifer Peacock

JACKSON – In times of stress, such as a sudden loss or a particularly difficult crisis, the services of a chaplain can be of great value.

With that thought in mind, the township mayor’s office has appointed individuals to serve as chaplains for the township. During a recent Township Council meeting, Mayor Michael Reina announced the appointment of eight chaplains for the year, commencing immediately and ending on Dec. 31.

The chaplains include Reverend Dan Schafer, Calvary Assembly of God/Jackson Police Chaplain, Rabbi Jan Rosenberg, Beth Zion Messianic Synagogue, Reverend John Bambrick, St. Aloysius Roman Catholic Church, Reverend Joe Tiedemann, Jackson United Methodist Church, Chaplains Israel Bursztyn and Yaakov Wenger, both of Lakewood and members of the NJ Chaplains Association, Rabbi Schmuel Naparstek, Chabad of Jackson and Rabbi Mordechai Burnstein of Kehal d’Brookwood.

Previously, one chaplain served the spiritual needs of the township, primarily the township’s police department. These additional chaplains come at a time when the community is seeing additional religious diversity to its growing population.

Councilman Barry Calogero congratulated the newly appointed chaplains saying “spirituality is key” to certain situations where comfort is required. He cited an example involving the loss of a young child and how such comfort saved the life of the mother who was grieving the loss.

“All of them will do great work in the community. It is so important. I wish to thank them for being part of it,” Councilman Scott Martin said.

“I know so much of what they do,” Councilwoman Ann M. Updegrave said. “There are times in life when our neighbors need extra support.”

Vice Council President Rob Nixon said “religious guidance in our community is important to help the body and soul and they service these needs. We are blessed to have their participation in this.”

Council President Kenneth Bressi referenced the military history of chaplains in the armed services.

Rabbi Shmuel Naparstek of Chabad of Jackson, left, receives a proclamation from Council vice president Robert Nixon for National Education Day during a Township Council meeting. (Photo by Bob Vosseller)

Military branches of the government each have a Chaplain Corps. The Chaplains Corps of the United States Army, for example, consists of ordained clergy of multiple faiths who are commissioned Army officers. They serve as military chaplains as well as enlisted soldiers who serve as assistants. Their purpose is to offer religious church services, counseling, and moral support to the armed forces, whether in peacetime or at war.

“Chaplains in the military are different but the needs are the same,” Bressi said.

Prior to the newly announced chaplains the township had one chaplain who is an Assembly of God Pastor from Hightstown who lives in Jackson. Chaplain services are volunteer and receive no compensation.

Rev. Bambrick described his role as a chaplain for the township police department saying the position is one of appointment. “I did not apply or approach the township. I was contacted by the Office of the Mayor informing me that I was under consideration to be appointed and asked if I would consent to it. I obviously accepted.

“In the past I have served as a chaplain for the Manalapan Township Police Department and the Monmouth County Police Academy. While not a chaplain, I have also served the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office,” Bambrick said.

“The role of the chaplain is to help and support the men and women of the police department, to pray for them, guide them spiritually, offer counsel when necessary and to assist them on difficult police calls when they request assistance,” Bambrick said.

Bambrick said that during a brief conversation with Police Chief Matthew Kunz, “he shared with me that he had requested more chaplains be appointed to better serve the needs of the department and the citizens of Jackson.”

Rabbi Naparstek said “typically, a chaplain serves as an address for the religious needs of the community, especially in time of crisis. I imagine that the appointments made by the mayor are along those lines, though I have not yet received any specific guidelines or details regarding this specific position as chaplain in Jackson. I am more than happy to volunteer my time to any need in the community.

“My past chaplaincy experiences include visits to nursing homes and hospitals and being there for people when they need it most. I was also involved with relief efforts in Seagate, Brooklyn and Long Beach, Long Island, New York after Superstorm Sandy. Those efforts included helping elderly people empty their wet basements, providing words of encouragement and being a listening ear to those who went through the devastation of the storm,” Naparstek said.

Bambrick said the recent appointments “are well balanced with four Jewish chaplains and four Christian chaplains. The Township has grown and continues to grow and diversify, the recent appointments acknowledge that growth and diversity. While I do not know all the new chaplains, I know most of them and have found them to be fine individuals of good character and willing to work for the common good, something very important to peace and order in society.”