Wes Beacham, lead pastor of Hope Church in Winter Garden, is the Windermere Police Department’s newest chaplain.
A passion for serving others runs in Wes Beacham’s blood.
Beacham has been in ministry for 16 years now, and as the founder and lead pastor of Hope Church in Winter Garden, he and his family have been serving people in West Orange County for the last six years.
He isn’t stopping there, though. As of mid-March, the Ocoee resident is also the Windermere Police Department’s newest chaplain.
A LITTLE BIT OF EVERYTHING
Born and raised in Orlando, Beacham has been a pastor for 11 years. He’s been married to his wife, Diana, for 16 years. Together, they have a 13-year-old daughter, 10-year-old son and 6-year-old twins.
The Beachams moved to the area from east Orlando six years ago to plant and grow Hope Church. For Beacham, his passion lies in building authentic relationships with everyone he meets. That includes serving people and weaving himself and his family into the fabric of West Orange County.
“We’ve done a little bit of everything,” he said of his time in West Orange. “Our kids have played sports in the schools here, and we serve on several boards in the city. I serve on the West Orange Habitat for Humanity board, and I also serve on the board at the Roper YMCA. We are in it as much as we can.
“One of the things for our church is we’re all about serving the city,” he said. “We wanted to be a church that if we ever left the city, the city would miss the church. … I feel like we’ve done a lot as far as connecting with people.”
SERVING THE CITY
Being able to serve and love on others became especially important after the COVID-19 pandemic began last year. It was one of the most challenging years of ministry, Beacham said, but he and his congregation still found ways to help others.
“The challenging part was, ‘How do you care for people if you can’t really leave your home?’ or, ‘How can you really care for people if you can’t really be close to them in physical proximity?’” he said. “That has been a learning curve for us.”
When everyone was home, Beacham and Hope Church found new ways to serve. They have made and taken more phone calls than they ever had. They wrote letters and sent gift cards to Roper YMCA employees, single mothers and those who needed help most.
“The pandemic was crazy, but I feel like in a lot of ways, we served better in some ways, because we had to do it differently,” he said.
In fact, it’s his involvement in the community — and, specifically, on the Roper YMCA board — that led him to his newest role as a Windermere Police Department chaplain. It’s how he met Windermere Police Chief Dave Ogden.
Beacham said his story is unique because he grew up in a home with a black father and white mother. For that reason, he said, it gave him a unique platform to serve in different places.
“Because of the tensions that we see in our community, our culture and our nation today, I really feel like because I’m multicultural myself, I was able to serve in multiple different facets and areas,” he said. “That led us to the chaplain seat. One of the things we say in our church is we love all people in all times at all places. I want to serve the people who serve the city. I know those officers, and they serve the city so well, so we wanted to serve them.
“Leadership is lonely, and we know that’s a position in our city where people are tired and they’ve done their best and they’re loving well,” he said. “We want to come alongside them and love and serve them as they love and serve the city.”
A NEW ROLE
The role of chaplain has proven to be a valuable asset to the Windermere Police Department’s staff, as well as town residents, Ogden said.
“Our chaplains handle critical-incident stress management, deliver sensitive notifications with the utmost care, are available for emergency calls for service, and build relationships that help our team continue to function with balance,” he said.
“One of the things we say in our church is we love all people in all times at all places. I want to serve the people who serve the city.” — Wes Beacham, chaplain, Windermere Police Department
Police chaplains serve as a support system for law-enforcement officers, as well as the public they serve, in times of crisis. They can be volunteers or sworn officers. Beacham said he will be sworn in at the April 13 Town Council meeting.
“The role of chaplain is kind of a twofold thing,” Beacham said. “It’s to serve those officers however we can, so connecting with them relationally and just being there for them if they need somebody to talk to. They call it the ministry of presence. Really, it’s being around those guys and building relationships with them.
“The other facet is serving other people who have been impacted by something in the city,” he said. “What happens to those residents that have called after the emergency is over? I’m able to go and be with and serve those people who have been affected. I can be there to serve those people if something … happens and/or if they need anything.”
The Windermere Police Department has another chaplain, Andy Jones, who was sworn into his role in August 2017. Beacham will work with him and assist in providing moral and spiritual support for the town’s law-enforcement community.
“Andy’s done incredible things,” Beacham said. “You’re on call to help as much as the families and/or the city or the chief needs. You’re there to help as much as you can. Andy has had his hands full by himself, so to have someone else to help him (is good).”
Ogden said Beacham is a passionate communicator and has a desire to encourage and inspire people. He added that Beacham will be out riding with patrol officers in the near future.
Beacham, who also has family members in law enforcement, is looking forward to being able to extend his involvement with and service to the community he loves. He said this is an opportunity to reach the community in a new way.
“I feel like God’s put us on this earth to help people,” he said. “I don’t think that is just a chaplain’s role. I believe God built humanity to help humanity, and so we love it, because we felt like this is what we’re called to do. One of the things that we say at our church is our mission is to love all people, at all times, at all places, so we feel like this is an opportunity for us to get there. … We’re looking forward to it.”