• John McGary, Woodford Sun Staff

WCCC pastor is new police chaplain

RANDY NATION, pastor of Woodford Community Christian Church, was recently named chaplain for the Versailles Police Department. He approached Versailles Police Chief James Fugate about the unpaid position in the days following the murder of six-year-old Logan Tipton. (Photo by John McGary)

Randy Nation has been pastor of Woodford Community Christian Church (WCCC) for 19 years. He's been chaplain for the Versailles Police Department (VPD) - officially, anyway - for a little more than a week. It's understandable, then, that the 55-year-old Taylorsville native is, to a certain extent, making up his new and unpaid job as he goes. "I saw it as an opportunity to be more engaged in the community, because we have a good community here. I had a good relationship with (former) Chief Wilhoit. I even mentioned (the chaplain position) to him at one point, but neither of us really did anything with it," Nation said. Wilhoit's successor, James Fugate, is a member of Woodford Community Christian. Shortly after Fugate was sworn in as chief Nov. 1, Nation again mentioned his interest in serving as police chaplain. "I can tend to just be really working with church people all the time, and not being in the community as much, so I thought, 'You know, it would be cool to have a place where I could actually interact with people, and not just church people on their best day, a Sunday. It would be throughout the week, and so I told him that ." Nation said. One month later, six-year-old Logan Tipton was murdered. "That week, I talked to Chief Fugate and I said, 'You know, that's got to be tough. You guys went in there, and what you saw and dealt with, and we need to talk.'" Nation said. Nation and Fugate met that Friday. "I just said, I don't know what (the chaplain position) is going to look like, because I've not done this, but I have a concern for you, for your men and women. . I'd like to be available for them, I'd like to build some relationships, so during the really bad experiences like that, I would be around. But also, just in the routine life of an officer, because they have a lot of stress in their lives ." Nation said. Nation said he wasn't a counselor, merely a "decent listener." "The department has professionals for that, so that's not what I'm about, trying to take the place of counseling ." Nation said. "What I would like to offer is just being available for the guys and the ladies; just to say, 'Hey, here's somebody outside the police department, outside the system. If you want to talk, I can listen, I can give you some practical advice ." Fugate agreed to the proposal, which, if nothing else, wouldn't cost his department a dime. "We appreciate his willingness to serve in that capacity and to make himself available to the officers and dispatchers," Fugate said. At the Feb. 16 Versailles City Council meeting, Nation provided the opening prayer, after which Mayor Brian Traugott announced that Nation was the VPD's chaplain. (Nation admits to having visited the department a time or two before then.) "Randy is compassionate and community-minded and gracious enough to volunteer his talents," Traugott said. Asked why he chose the path that led him here, and why he's still following it, Nation joked, "Well, it depends on the day. ". It's not something I really wanted to do. It's just something you're kind of called to do, and I love people. I love helping people. I think service is one of my gifts - I like serving people. You get a chance to help people on their worst day ." he said. "And of course, the greatest motivation is faith, is believing that there's life after this one, and I want to help people have eternal life." He said he wouldn't use his position as police chaplain to recruit officers and dispatchers to his church, or, unless approached about faith, Christianity. "I believe every Christian ought to be pointing people to Jesus. Our vision as a church at Woodford (Community) is to move people on a simple journey towards Jesus. That means we don't push them, we don't drag them, we just kind of show them the way and kind of encourage them a little bit. One thing I don't see (the chaplain position) as recruiting for Woodford. I want that to be clear ." Nation said. "If you don't want to hear anything about Jesus, I'm still going to care about you and try to help you work through your issue, whatever it is, and maybe at some point, you might think that maybe (Christianity) is worth investigating," Nation said. Ministering to them is one part of the job, Nation said. The other is ministering through the Versailles Police Department to the community. "So they might find situations where an officer might say, 'You know, this family really needs someone to talk to and I would be available to go, or send somebody ." Nation said. Meantime, he and his wife, Lori, have already sent several "somebodies" into the world who chose to, in some fashion, follow in their father's footsteps. Kiel, 30, teaches the Bible and English in a Christian school in South Korea. Lindsay, 26, is a social worker in Versailles, while Brianne, 24, is a social worker in Grayson. Lora, 21, is a college senior doing an internship this semester for a local foster care group. "They're just all very service and generosity-oriented. We're proud of them," Nation said. Nation now has dozens more service-oriented people to be proud of: the men and women wearing the dark blue of the Versailles Police Department.

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