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‘We all share humanness’ — Forsyth County woman hopes to share her heart, compassion in Cumming PD chaplaincy program
ChrisPruitt
Chris Pruitt, left, felt honored as her son-in-law, Cumming Police Chief David Marsh, stood by her side as she was sworn into the new chaplaincy program.

Chris Pruitt always looks to offer her heart and her compassion to others around her and in her community, and she said she gets that mostly from her grandmother. 

Pruitt said that her grandmother died earlier in August, just months before her 100th birthday in October. She said she looked up to her in so many ways, but especially for her kindness toward others. 

“She was known as — and I mean everybody that knew her — she was the most kind, compassionate, loving woman,” Pruitt said. “And she is who instilled a lot of my values. The care that I have for people and just people in general. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you came from or what you look like, we all share humanness.” 

These values that Pruitt shared with her grandmother are the same ones that inspired her to pursue training for a chaplain position within the community. She wanted that opportunity to simply be present and offer support to anyone who needed it. 

Just one month later in early September, Pruitt found the perfect opportunity for her when she was sworn in as a chaplain for the Cumming Police Department as part of the agency’s new chaplaincy program. 

Pruitt said that she is excited to be serving local officers and her community. Although she said she is still brand new to chaplaincy and to working with the police department, she is ready to offer her support. 

“Everyone I’ve met so far are amazing, caring people and have been so overwhelmingly welcoming,” Pruitt said. “They put their lives on the line each day for our community. I’m so grateful for all they do, and to live in this great area that is so supportive of our officers. As we know, this is not the case everywhere. My hope is to always bring some extra encouragement and support to them in whatever way I can.” 

Pruitt first completed her chaplaincy training and earned her license back in July after years of searching for a way to be able to participate in the training and join a program. Still working a full-time job, she said that being able to find the time was always impossible. 

A few months after the pandemic began in the U.S., organizations started to offer the 40-hour accredited course online, making it possible for Pruitt to jump onto the opportunity. 

“It was just the right time for me to be able to take the training,” Pruitt said. 

As she was completing her training, her son-in-law, Cumming Police Chief David Marsh, was also beginning a new chaplaincy program at the department. 

At the time, they both did not know of the other’s plans. Pruitt said that, with the pandemic, they were not having any family gatherings and were not talking to each other as much as they normally would.  

One day, her daughter mentioned to Marsh that she was training for her license, and she said he was blown away that both of their plans matched up so well. He immediately thought of her for the program, and she said she “felt very honored” that he would consider her for such a position within the department. 

At this point, she has only been able to visit the department a few times since she was sworn in, but she is working to build relationships with those working in the department and with the other chaplains that have since been sworn in. 

Through her training, she has learned how she can help officers work through a variety of mental health concerns such as anxiety and depression, which she said many officers can struggle with as they are dealing “brave” situations on a regular basis. 

“The role of the chaplain is going to be pretty great for our officers, and I think a lot of people don’t understand what chaplains do,” Chief Marsh said. “Primarily, their role is to help out with our staff and our police officers that, quite frankly, have to go through some hard stuff some days, and they’re people in positions of support for our staff as well as others in the community.” 

Whether someone is the victim of a crime or get into a life-altering or stressful accident, Pruitt also stressed that chaplains are there with the police department to offer support and guidance to anyone who needs it. 

“It is not about a particular religion or a way to prohibit or advance any religion,” Pruitt said. “It is more just to be there to offer encouragement, hope and comfort and to serve in whatever capacity.”