Bill Glennie: An Uncommon Chaplain
By Julie Campbell
It’s safe to say that Chaplain Bill Glennie is not your typical ninety-year-old man. While most men his age have retired decades ago, Glennie, an ordained Church of God minister, still goes to work every day. For the past fifty years, he has served as a chaplain to the law enforcement professionals of the state of Arizona. Currently, he covers three agencies in his state: the U.S. Marshall’s Office (he started the chaplain service there eighteen years ago), the Secret Service, and the Arizona State Chaplain Service, where he teaches retired firefighters and police officers to become chaplains.
“Chaplains are difficult to find,” explained Glennie. “Most are covering one to four agencies, and it’s all volunteer. They love you to death, but they don’t put you in their budget.”
Raising his support through the years has been a challenge, but God has always provided.
“McDowell Mountain Church (Scottsdale, Arizona) supports me as a missionary,” Glennie said. “It gets quite expensive because many agencies require chaplains to wear a uniform and provide their own automobile.”
Spending twenty years on the road as a reserve deputy in Maricopa County gave Glennie a unique perspective, and that’s where he first felt the call to become a chaplain.
“I was on the scene where there was a deceased child, and it was so traumatic for the family,” he recalls. “I started the chaplaincy program for Maricopa County right after that.”
During his half-century career, Glennie has traveled to some of the worst tragedies in our country’s history.
“I had the privilege of going to 9-11 and Hurricane Katrina as a grief counselor,” said Glennie, who has his doctorate in counseling. “You never know where you’re going to end up—you just go where God calls you.”
Listening is the most important skill a chaplain possesses, and Glennie teaches this concept first to his chaplain students.
“It’s not your degrees that count when someone is dealing with tragedy,” he said. “You have to listen and only speak when the Holy Spirit tells you to.”
His colleagues have great respect for him, including Gary Carr, chaplain ministries coordinator for the Church of God.
“Bill Glennie has been a chaplain longer than I can remember. He has probably forgotten more about chaplaincy ministry than most of us will ever learn,” said Gary. “We can all give God our thanks for a servant like Bill who perseveres in the faith, endures change, and walks humbly each day to fulfill the Lord’s calling on his life.”
Glennie has been married to his wife, Nadean, for sixty-nine years, and they have three children who are all either retired police officers or firefighters. The couple also enjoys spending time with their seven grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.
For Glennie, age is just a number, and he said he’s not planning to retire anytime soon.
“It’s such a glorious thing to be a chaplain! It’s one of the greatest blessings in my life.”
Julie Campbell is an editor at Warner Christian Resources (formerly Warner Press) and a freelance journalist. A former city girl from Chicago, she enjoys country life with her husband, Russ, on a five-acre apple orchard in Madison County, Indiana. She is a blessed mom of three wonderful young adult children and one very spoiled red Doberman puppy.
Learn more about, and find opportunities to support, Chaplain Ministries at www.jesusisthesubject.org/chaplains.
Feature (top) photo: Chaplain Glennie blesses the 100 Club of Arizona (“Standing Behind the Men and Women Who Stand Behind the Badge in Arizona since 1968”) with a fruit basket. Credit: 100 Club of Arizona (thank you!).