Although the St Michael Law Enforcement Chapel at Christ Episcopal Church, Kennesaw, has been open a few months already, it will receive its official opening and dedication this Michaelmas Sunday.
“It’s open 24 hours a day, and any police officer or first responder can come here at any time,” said Stephanie Lee, a church greeter who was part of the group that set the chapel up. “There’s a code to get into the building, and they can have snacks, if they need to do some paperwork, if they need to do something on the computer, we can take care of that, coffee, water, Gatorade, cookies, just whatever.”
[Christ Church Rector] Father Ben Day, who is also chaplain at the Kennesaw Police Department, said it’s about saying thanks to the people who keep the community safe.
“This really started organically out of the fact that I rode with local law enforcement officers from a couple of different agencies, primarily Kennesaw Police, and I realized that being a police officer in this day and age can be challenging in ways that most people don’t understand,” he said. “One of the most practical of that is clean restrooms. Where can officers use the restroom where they won’t be harassed or interfered with, and how do we provide that? I thought, I’ve got a clean restroom 24 hours a day seven days a week.”
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution notes that the chapel was originally conceived with police officers in mind – their photo of the space features a Thin Blue Line flag – but that its mission has expanded to invite all first responders to rest a while:
“There’s been a level of antagonism in our community towards police officers,” [Day] said, adding the place will give cops a place of “peacefulness” when they are on breaks. …
Day said he initially reached out to officers and deputies from surrounding agencies, including Cobb, Kennesaw State University, city of Kennesaw and Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office. However, the chapel will be open to all officers and first responders.
Day said the church’s initiative aligns with its core values, which is to be in service to the community.
“We have the opportunity to serve them with a place of sanctuary and respite,” he said.