Chaplains on the scene, serving community 20 years

By Nicole Johnson  bio | email | Twitter

NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - When crime, fire or natural disaster devastates a family, there is a group called to serve those in need. The Coastal Crisis Chaplaincy is now in its 20th year, responding to crisis situations throughout the Lowcountry.

In emergency situations, EMS, police or firefighters handle the scene, but for the victims, dispatchers call out chaplains with the Coastal Crisis Chaplaincy.

"I guess we end up filling a need of folks showing up on scenes that care, then offer, if people want it, somebody representing the lord in a time when their lives have changed forever," Chaplain Rob Dewey said.

Dewey started the non-profit organization 20 years ago after working as a police officer and an Episcopalian priest. In the beginning, the chaplaincy worked just with Charleston County Sheriff's Office, but now it serves agencies throughout the entire Lowcountry with 17 chaplains, a board of directors and office staff.

June 18, 2007 is a day Dewey will never forget. He was there after nine Charleston firefighters lost their lives fighting the Sofa Super Store fire.

"It affected a lot of our community. It was difficult for us to keep up with the need and support that we needed to offer, to hole our community together," Dewey said.

Recently, Dewey was there for the family of a high school student who set himself on fire. Dewey led the funeral service for Aaron Williams.

After 20 years of community service, Dewey says he continues to feel God's calling.

"If we can bring the love of the Lord that are struggling, disenfranchised, then I feel like we have done what we are called to do," Dewey said.

The Coastal Crisis Chaplaincy is a non-profit that relies solely on donations from the community. Their office space in North Charleston City Hall was donated by the mayor.

In honor of the Coastal Crisis Chaplaincy's 20 years of service, the public is invited to its anniversary banquet. It takes place Feb. 10 at the North Charleston Convention Center. The event starts at 5:30 p.m. and includes a silent auction and dinner. Tickets are $50.

For more information call (843) 724-1212 or go to

Copyright 2011 WCSC. All rights reserved.