Partnering beyond Church

18 March 2021

Deacon Fiona de Boltz transforms loitering into listening as she partners with the police in serving Northamptonshire.

dsc_0042Like many Methodist deacons, much of my ministry involves working in partnership with people and agencies beyond the Church. When I felt God’s call to be a deacon, I knew I was drawn especially to those outside church life, but I had no idea where that would lead me!

Today I am privileged to serve as the Deputy Lead Chaplain for Northamptonshire Police, having been a police chaplain for nearly ten years. The journey began when I was stationed in the South Derbyshire Circuit in 2007 for my first appointment. For part of my ministry I was asked if I would continue the previous deacon’s work as chaplain to the police in Swadlincote.

Following stringent Home Office vetting, I began going into the police station once a week for a couple of hours and ‘loitering with intent’ – intent  on building relationships with police officers and staff. I simply took in biscuits, did the washing up, and was a listening ear to any who needed to talk.

When I moved to my next appointment in Corby, I continued working as a police chaplain. Another part of my work was setting up initiatives for Street Pastors in Corby and then Kettering. I experienced the beauty of working in partnership with police, local councils, and churches across denominations in order to effectively serve our communities.

I also saw at first hand the challenges facing the police, who continue to live with the twin pressures of reduced budgets and increased threat of terrorism.

As a police chaplain, I have huge respect for the people I encounter who are often dealing with incredibly stressful situations. Chaplaincy is ‘being there’, as a visible sign of the God who is with us and who loves every person passionately and unconditionally. For me, chaplaincy is a privileged partnership – partnering with God, with the church who sent me, and with the police.

Deacon Fiona de Boltz

The banner image shows Fiona at the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge – after a local police inspector, Vaughan, talked her into making the climb. She admits: “Having said I didn’t know where God would lead me, I would never have dared climbing here if it hadn’t been for Vaughan! He is not a Christian and I felt I needed to put ‘my money where my mouth’ is and prove that my faith in God was real and I could overcome my fears!”

This article originally appeared in the connexion magazine, issue 6.
Banner image and photos: © Tony de Bolz, TMCP