‘Community heroes’ honored at church service

First Posted: 9/16/2014

Jeff Warren, of Avoca, is a senior correctional officer at the United States Penitentiary at Canaan (USP Canaan). He’s also a member of Countryside Community Church, Newton Township.

Warren was co-planner of a community heroes’ service held at the church on Sept. 14 and is also one of the members of the congregation recognized and honored for his service. A few months ago, he presented the idea for the service to the worship committee.

“It’s something that has been done in the Catholic church for a number of years, especially since 9/11 (Sept. 11, 2001). I thought it would be something fitting for our church, knowing the size of our volunteer fire department and the number of people in the community who are involved or have been involved at some point in their lives,” said Warren.

“Knowing the pressures of the job and the toll it can take on you, I wanted to bring that awareness to the community and to help offer some support to those who are working these jobs.”

Among public safety workers recognized were first responders, including law enforcement and police officers, fire fighters, search and rescue, emergency medical services, correctional workers, federal agents, border patrol agents and park rangers.

To be honored for the work he has done, Warren said, “is very humbling to know there is so much support out there, especially for a field which often gets ignored. Not to bring the spotlight on myself, but to spread the spotlight onto the others in the community who work on the front lines to keep society safe.”

Countryside Community Church Pastor Mark Terwilliger, who has only ben at the church since July 1, explained his congregation very much wants to be involved in the community and be supportive to the community. His sermon was two-fold: honoring the people who risk their well-being and lives to serve, as well as presenting to church members ways they can be supportive of them and show appreciation.

“Of course, I say community in the broader sense,” he clarified. “Jeff presented the idea of a (service) to the worship committee back in July. They (members of the congregation) very much see themselves as being people of service.”

Husband and wife, Emmett and Bonnie Sherman, of Newton Township, were among members of the congregation who have served the community as public safety workers in a number of roles within the Newton Ransom Volunteer Fire Company.

“Our people (within the company) do it all,” said Emmett Sherman.

“You don’t think about the dangers. It’s quite an experience because when you get done, you think; when you go into a fire, your life is in the hands of the guy that’s behind you. You have to trust him.”

Bonnie Sherman said of her involvement with the fire department, “When that siren rings your heart beats fast.”

And regarding the heroes service, she added, “This was very nice. It’s nice to be recognized.”

A reception for adults and children was held in the church basement following the service.

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