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Former police chief answers the call to become a pastor

August 20, 2002|by EDWARD MARSHALL

edwardm@herald-mail.com

WILLIAMSPORT - When Delancy Catlett heard his friend and pastor, the Rev. Bruce Epperly of the Downsville Christian Church in Williamsport, speak about the acute shortage of pastors in area churches, he decided to answer the call.

The former Williamsport police chief and educator said Epperly was instrumental in his decision to become a pastor.

He now preaches at Mt. Vernon Reformed United Church of Christ in Keedysville, which averages about 15 to 20 people at church services.

"I attended a couple of workshops and preached a couple of sermons, and I found that I enjoyed preaching," Catlett said.

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He was accepted at the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Gettysburg, Pa., and began classes this month.

During the four-year program, Catlett will be a student pastor under the supervision of the church.

"I'm a strong believer that pastors should be working toward ordination," Catlett said. "It's a job in which you need to educate yourself so that you can become a better pastor."

Catlett began his career as a deputy with the Washington County Sheriff's Department in Hagerstown in 1975.

He later went to Williamsport, where he was a police officer and was promoted to chief in 1977.

"As a police officer I was mainly involved in crisis intervention and keeping the peace," Catlett said.

Four years later, he left the force to pursue a teaching career and received a teaching certification from Shepherd College in 1981.

He spent two years as a middle school math and science teacher in the Washington County School district. In 1985, he began teaching high school math and science in the Greencastle-Antrim School District.

"As a teacher, I was able to teach students life skills so they could deal with situations they might face in life," Catlett said.

He retired from teaching this year, and before long decided to become a pastor.

As such, he draws from his experiences as a teacher and a member of law enforcement, but with a spiritual focus.

"As a pastor, I want to try and give people peace of mind and hopefully use the lessons from the gospel to aid them in getting through life," Catlett said.

His faith helped Catlett achieve peace of mind after his wife died of complications associated with diabetes last year.

The death of a loved one can sometimes cause people to question their faith. In Catlett's case, his faith helped him deal with the loss.

"I think my faith was strengthened after her death. It helped me get through that period of time," he said.

Now Catlett wants to help churches in need.

Many smaller churches are in need of pastors because of their limited financial resources to support pastors and church services.

"They are actually very beautiful little churches, and I encourage people of any denomination to drop by and have a look for themselves," Catlett said.

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