Evesham Township council welcomed a new police chaplain at regular meeting on Jan. 24.
Annmarie Cook is a township resident who began ordained ministry in the evangelical Lutheran church. Over more than 16 years, she has served congregations in Brick, Lakewood and Maple Shade, and is now the interim pastor for Evesham’s Prince of Peace Lutheran Church.
Township police established a chaplain program in 2014, and it now consists of 11 volunteers. In the same year, the department reached out to every house of worship in Evesham and got a positive response from the different faith communities.
The chaplain program was established with a focus on spiritual support for emergency personnel during traumatic events and incidents 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Chaplains counsel victims and others touched by traumatic crises, including homicides, hostage situations and kidnappings. They are specially trained to handle such crisis situations and provide follow-up counseling, group debriefings and individual intervention.
Police chaplains are non-paid volunteers trained to minister to people of all faiths and their services are provided free to individuals, families or the department.
Cook grew up in Marlton, where she now lives with her husband and daughter. She attended Beeler Elementary School, Marlton Middle School and Cherokee High School, where she graduated in 1999. Cook earned a bachelor’s degree from Valparaiso University in Indiana in 2003, and a master’s in divinity from Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia in 2007.
Cook is also interim pastor at Evesham’s Prince of Peace Lutheran Church. She was invited to become a police chaplain while serving in Maple Shade nine years ago.
“She is now grateful to serve with both the Evesham and Maple Shade police departments as a chaplain, and to serve the communities in this particular way,” said Police Chief Walt Miller.
Mayor Jaclyn Veasy swore in Cook to her new role.
“I actually went to a breakfast with our police chaplains not long ago,” the mayor recalled. “It was very insightful to hear what they do, because we kind of take for granted what police chaplains are doing for us in our community.
“So I just want to say thank you for volunteering your time,” Veasy told Cook, “and giving back in that way, it’s a very special calling that all of our police chaplains do for us.”
The next council meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 14.