LINCOLNTON – Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office Detective Greg Hager will now serve double duty after being appointed as the agency’s chaplain by Sheriff Bill Beam.
“There was a class a couple of weeks ago that I was made aware of, and when I talked to Greg about it he expressed interest in filling the role of chaplain at the sheriff’s office,” said Beam, who made the appointment on April 5. “We sent him to that school and he was very pleased with what he was able to take away from the class, and I’m very pleased that he has agreed to fill this role for us here at the sheriff’s office. It means a lot to me personally and to the agency as a whole, and I couldn’t think of a better person for this position.”
Hager, who is pastor of Community Baptist Church in Dallas, went into law enforcement in Gaston County in 1994, where he stayed until 2000 when he felt compelled to serve the community in another manner.
“I just felt like it was something I was supposed to do,” Hager said. “I don’t know how to articulate that in a manner that maybe someone else could understand it. It was a unique time in our lives in that my father was operating a business and there was a need for us to step up and take over during a period of severe sickness for his wife and mother. That provided a transition for me and my wife from the law enforcement setting back into secular work. I don’t know how to explain it other than I had an inescapable sense that that’s what God wanted me to do.”
While operating the family business alongside his wife, Hager began seminary at Liberty University, where he earned his Master of Divinity degree in 2006. He was ordained by his home church, Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Alexis, in late 2001, and he served in ministry full-time until 2011.
Hager got the itch to return to law enforcement in 2012 and he was hired by the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office soon after. He continued to fill in when needed at various churches in the area, and in August 2017 he became the bi-vocational pastor at Community Baptist.
“Law enforcement provides an opportunity to engage people,” Hager said. “We see people in their most difficult circumstances, and there are times when we see them on their best days after a case is cleared or whatever it may be. While we apply the standards set by the law and try to address calls for service, and there’s an opportunity to help people that way, sometimes there’s an opportunity to help everyone.
“Hopefully everyone you deal with, you treat with respect, whether it be the victim or the suspect, and so you have an opportunity to have some kind of good bearing on someone’s life no matter the situation.”
Hager added that he’s learned to blend his law enforcement role with church-related service.
“Pastors need people to fill in when they’re sick or on vacation and that kind of thing, so I just filled in at various churches in the area and that was a great experience,” Hager said. “That’s sort of how the ministry unfolded until the middle of 2017, when I was approached by the church I currently serve. It’s been a really great situation for me because they’re very accepting of my work with the sheriff’s office and being on-call. That allows me to do both things that I believe God has called me to do.”
Hager’s primary role as chaplain will be to provide someone for officers to confide in while trying to process the grisly realities they experience while on duty. He believes his background in both law enforcement and pastoral ministry gives him a unique perspective to relate to what fellow officers are going through in most instances.
Beam noted that while Hager can provide guidance for his fellow officers, he’s not a mental health professional, and the sheriff’s office will seek outside help for staff members should the need arise.