fter the flood of 2008, emergency workers and relief agencies descended on the county to give physical aid to victims.
But when it came to looking out for people’s spiritual and emotional well-being, David Mark Owens and a team of chaplains worked for weeks meeting with people.
Owens was on the scene after an explosion destroyed dozens of homes in the Richmond Hills neighborhood. When tornadoes ripped through southern Indiana, he traveled to Henryville to console and counsel residents affected by the disaster.
Owens was received a pair of awards for his chaplaincy work with law enforcement agencies throughout the county. The recognitions spotlight the tremendous effort he puts into spiritual healing, in everything from day-to-day counseling at the Franklin United Methodist Community to helping the families affected by tragedies.
David Mark Owens
Family: Wife, Sherrie; three adult children
Education: Graduated with bachelor’s degree in government and sociology from Anderson College in 1978; graduated with a bachelor’s degree in religious studies from Ball State University in 1983; earned a master’s degree in divinity from Christian Theological Seminary in 1987.
Occupation: Lead chaplain at Franklin United Methodist Community, chaplain at Johnson Memorial Hospital
Other activities: Volunteer chaplain for the Indiana Guard Reserve, Johnson County Sheriff’s Office and Indianapolis International Airport
Though he downplays the honors, those around him see the awards as long overdue.
“Our chaplains do a lot of good for us, and unfortunately, like a lot of law enforcement, they don’t always get the credit they deserve,” Johnson County Sheriff Doug Cox said. “It was his time to receive credit.”
Owens received the Wilbert A. Cunningham Award from the Indiana Law Enforcement Chaplains, to recognize outstanding jobs within law enforcement agencies and throughout their communities.
He was also given the John A. Price Award from the International Conference of Police Chaplains, which oversees chaplaincy all over the world.
A former pastor and trained religious counselor, Owens has been involved in chaplaincy since 1987. He started at Clark County Hospital in Jeffersonville, working with patients and their families.
For Owens, joining the chaplaincy was a calling that fell in best with his skill set.
“It’s always fit me. I was originally a local pastor, and they have their responsibilities and things they do very well. But there was a certain part of this, being part of immediate situations, that was attractive to me,” he said. “It fit my ministry; it fit who I was.”
Since that time, he’s worked regularly with the Franklin United Methodist Community, Johnson Memorial Hospital, the Indiana Guard Reserve and the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office.
He had accompanied officers to families’ homes after a loved one passed away unexpectedly. Arriving at automobile accidents involving death or serious injury, he helps counsel the first responders shaken up by their experience.
“The most shining quality of David is that every time you turn around he is already there for you in time of crisis,” Cox said. “You really have no need to call. He is already hard at work for you before you even pick up the phone.”
In addition to his work with law enforcement, Owens has helped organize chaplaincy efforts throughout the county. He helped plan a weekly fellowship for chaplains to gather and discuss issues important to them.
At Camp Atterbury, he ministered to soldiers in need and delivered cookies to them around the holidays. He is also part of a disaster mental health team for this area.
Owens is grateful for the recognitions he has received. But he deflects any praise for himself to his fellow chaplains. The work they are doing is often not noticed, but remains a vital part of maintaining a healthy community.
“Sometimes it’s very visible, but most of the time it’s behind the scenes. That’s what it should be,” Owens said.