NASHVILLE — Many first responders sprang into action in the aftermath of the tragic shooting at the Covenant School in Nashville on March 27.
Among them was Sgt. Andrew Ivey, chaplain coordinator for the Metro Nashville Police Department (MNPD) and a North American Mission Board (NAMB)-endorsed chaplain.
“I would describe it as extremely difficult,” said Ivey, a deacon at Temple Baptist Church, White House. “There was a lot of grief, a lot of uncertainty from parents not knowing if their kids were okay or not.”
The morning’s devastating events caused Ivey and a team of chaplains to respond to provide counseling and support in the wake of the shooting which left three children and three adults dead.
In addition to the MNPD’s three team chaplains, a record number of the department’s volunteer chaplains responded to the scene, Ivey said.
“It was a very tough situation to minister in, but our chaplain team, which is made up of primarily volunteer chaplains, really stepped up and it’s amazing how God used us in the midst of it to provide hope and comfort to people who were struggling with that grief,” he said.
Out of the 27 volunteer chaplains Ivey helps coordinate, 13 responded on the day of the shooting. Many even left work after receiving correspondence about the tragedy from Ivey.
The event was deeply personal for Ivey, as his 9-year-old daughter is the same age as several of the victims of the shooting.
“I can’t imagine the hurt that the parents are going through right now,” he said.
“How would I want somebody to tell me that my loved one had died? How would I want somebody to support me in the same situation? …”
Ivey’s desire to become a police chaplain dates back to when he attended seminary after finishing service with the Marine Corps in 2004.
“I realized that God wasn’t calling me to the military, but to the police department,” Ivey said. “It can be hard to minister to police officers from being an outsider. I thought if I became a police officer, then I would have the opportunity to minister to the officers more.
“I felt like God was calling me to be a missionary to police.”
After seminary, Ivey joined the MNPD as an officer and has served in a variety of bivocational ministry roles over the years.
In 2013, he began assisting the department’s chaplain coordinator on an as-needed basis; he took over the position as the full-time chaplain coordinator in 2021.
He soon reached out to NAMB about chaplaincy endorsement, which he received after finishing training.
Ivey said serving as a chaplain cuts through any superficial barriers that may exist in ministry.
“As a police chaplain, when we’re on the scene somewhere it’s generally because things are not good,” Ivey said. “We’re able to minister to real people in their real feelings in their real situation. It’s really where the rubber meets the road.”
He is appreciative of the prayers that were lifted up for the chaplains as they ministered during the tragedy.
“I truly believe that myself and our team of chaplains would not have been able to do what we did that day if it hadn’t been for so many people praying for us.
“Being there” is a large part of what chaplaincy is about, Ivey said. B&R