This week’s guest on the Business Spotlight, Chaplain Joe & Linda Williams with Griefshare brought comfort, hope and tears to my eyes…just a time or two..
Friday 9/11/09, Chaplain Joe Williams and his wife Linda came to KUSH on the Business Spotlight. Coincidentally, the FBI deployed Joe Williams for 2 weeks after the bombings in New York. He returned to New York in November at the request of the North American Mission Board for 16 more months. His duties included working with emergency responders, disaster relief funding taskforce, victim’s families, and survivors. It was a comfort to have him with us this day. We had a lot of calls and comments about 9/11. Most were remembering where they were when the terrorists attacked and how the tragedy affected them.
Joe Williams served as a pastor of Baptist churches for more than thirty years. He has been interim Pastor of the Baptist Church in Cushing. Joe has served as chaplain to the Oklahoma Division of the FBI from 1991 to present, Oklahoma County Sheriffs Office 1987 to 1991, and Niccum Park Police Dept, 1982-87. Joe’s chaplain service to the Oklahoma County Sheriffs Office and the FBI were in addition to and a segment of his being jointly employed by the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma and the North American Mission Board.
In the aftermath of the bombing of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995, Joe assisted in the coordination of 250 chaplains at the bombsite. He spent 19 days at the bombsite that included 3 days in the basement of the Federal Building, known after the bombing as the pit. He made regular visits to the command center that housed federal agencies, and was involved in the defusing of recovery personnel and debriefing sessions for the FBI agents.
Joe was instrumental in 1996 in founding the Critical Incident Workshops and served as its director until 2001. The workshops provided trauma therapy for rescue and recovery personnel, victim’s families, and survivors of the bombing. As FBI chaplain, Joe traveled to Denver regularly during the Timothy McVeigh trial and interacted with victims and their families, survivors, United States Attorneys and FBI agents involved in the trial proceedings. He also served as chaplain for the FBI Critical Incident Response Team for the Southern region of the United States. Joe has led in-service training in the areas of crisis intervention for law enforcement agencies, hospitals and the military throughout the United States and Abroad. Joe is a certified Compassion Fatigue Specialist and Field Traumatologist as well as the Founder and Co-Director of the Oklahoma Traumatologist Institute.
His awards and medals are many. The Meritorious Service Medal by Oklahoma Sheriff and Peace Officer Association. The first and only chaplain to receive the FBI Directors award for Exceptional Public Service, the highest civilian award given. He received the John Price Excellency in Chaplaincy Award from the International Conference of Police Chaplains. And the Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award by Oklahoma Baptist University. Just to name a few.
Griefshare! I detailed Joe Williams’s achievements, experiences and awards to reiterate that Cushing does have “The Best of the Best”, but it’s more than that. Counseling and group therapy have a stigma and misconceptions; a sign of weakness is attached to it. Many people may suffer needlessly. I want those of you that may find you have gone as far as you can go on your own with grieving the loss of your loved one, that you have another effective option. We here in Cushing are very fortunate to have Joe Williams and his wife Linda who will be facilitators in Griefshare Program available to us. They together, along with over 45 gifted videotaped experts, have the qualifications, expertise, and compassion you can have confidence and comfort in knowing you are with the right professionals. Grief Share Recovery and Support group are expertly structured sessions and will begin this Monday Sept. 14th. There are 2 sessions, the first at 1:30-3:30 and evening classes at 6:30-8:30. They will be every Monday for 13 weeks. The cost is $20.00 Participants may start at any time during the 13 weeks and continue in the fall session. Classes will be held at 801 West Main Street in Cushing, in the white block building with the red roof. For more information, you can call (918) 306-0642. Joe and Linda Williams will be guest on KUSH Donna & Molly Show on Thurs. Sept 24 and Oct. 9 on the Business Spotlight. I felt privileged to get to know them. Thanks to the Williams, they brought us comfort, hope and tears to my eyes just a couple of times.