Dr. Kenneth Link

When Dr. Kenneth Link recently left his job as pastor of a Baptist church in Florida, he said, the local police SWAT team gave him a goodbye gift: a new bulletproof vest.

“I probably won’t have it on in the pulpit for a few weeks,” Links joked recently at his new home, the First Baptist Church of Sandy Springs.

In Clearwater, Fla., in addition to his church work, Link served as a volunteer chaplain for the local police department, including the SWAT team, he said. He hopes to serve as a police chaplain in Sandy Springs, too.

“It’s a calling,” Link said during a chat in the Sandy Springs church office. “I love cops. I love what they do. I love serving my community.”

His work as a police chaplain in Florida started after he got know officers who were running what he called “a speed trap” in front of his church, he said. “I kept asking them if there was anything I could do,” he said.

Soon, he said, he set up the department’s chaplain program. He ministered to officers and worked with other ministers to set up a “religion-neutral ministry of support for the police officers, their families and any additional ministry support needed in time of emergency,” he said in his resume.

The Sandy Springs church planned to install Link, who was born and reared in metro Atlanta, with a service Feb. 28. He planned to preach his first sermon at the church on March 6.

“A big factor” in his decision to take the post of pastor at First Baptist Church of Sandy Springs was the congregation’s commitment to serving the community and to the local police, Link said.

“First Baptist Sandy Springs is very committed to this community and to police,” he said. “We actually have a pew set aside for police and fire, in the back row, so if they get a call, they can make a quick, quiet exit.”

Joe Earle

Joe Earle is Editor-at-Large. He has more than 30-years of experience with daily newspapers, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.