Policeman turned pastor

Destrehan man leaves force to lead flock

March 21, 2014 at 10:07 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

Policeman turned pastor
McKinley Day, known as Pastor Kenny, was an eight-year veteran of the Louisiana State Police when he was asked to become a pastor at Covenant Church.

Despite being content with his career in law enforcement, Day, who had been involved in the ministry as a lay person since 2002, said he did not think twice when Jesse Duplantis offered him the opportunity to join the ministry.

“After Hurricane Isaac, Dr. Duplantis asked me if I would be willing to come on fulltime. He knew my position as a trooper and I was enjoying my life there. I’d always communicated that at some point in my life I wanted to get into the ministry,” Day said. “He approached me in 2012 and said, ‘I’d love to have you here.’ I was loving what I was doing, but I just felt like God wanted me to do this thing fulltime.”

Despite what may seem like an abrupt change into a very different career, Day, 48, said the transition was smooth.

“It was easy, one of the easiest transitions I’ve made,” he said. “I think one of the hardest things for me was buying a new wardrobe because I had been wearing a uniform all of my life.”

The Destrehan resident had spent 20 years in the Navy in navigation communications before retiring from the military and beginning his second career as a law enforcement officer.

Day said all three of his careers have followed the same principle.

“Being spiritually rooted all my life allowed me to get through those other jobs and do it in a way where it wasn’t really about me, but giving. All of my jobs have been rooted in my faith and my desire to give myself,” he said. “I think we all have a ministry. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a spiritual ministry, but we all have the ability to impact people’s lives.”

As a state trooper, Day’s ability to serve the New Orleans area community was immediately put to the test. He graduated from the Louisiana State Police training academy in April 2004 and was assigned to Troop B in Kenner. Only a few months later Hurricane Katrina hit the area.

Dealing with the amount of human suffering caused by the storm was trying for Day.

“One of the toughest things is seeing people you can’t help. There is really nothing you can do besides give them verbal comfort and prayer,” Day said.

Day’s most vivid memory of the disaster was helping local residents evacuate after being transported by boat through the city by the Coast Guard. In the days after the storm, he used the power of prayer to help many storm victims, especially those who had lost family members.

“I think my faith and I think my experience in the military helped me through it. There were times in the Navy where  we provided support for smaller countries that had some issues going on. I had a job to do and I knew my family was fine so I could manage,” Day said.

Following Hurricane Katrina, Day stayed on with Troop B for six more years.

While he tried to have a positive impact on the lives of those he came into contact with, he said unfortunately law enforcement officers have to resort to force in some cases.

“In one sense you want to help and pray and provide some level of support, but you know there is a really bad guy out there that doesn’t respond to prayer or any type of emotional comfort,” Day said. “Troopers are well trained to deal with those sorts of people.”

However, Day felt like he was able to offer some help to those who had obviously gone down the wrong path in their lives.

“There is a separation of church and state,” he said. “I couldn’t just go out and spread the gospel, but there are days when you have someone in handcuffs where you say, ‘hey there is a better way.’ There have been times where I’ve had to do that.”

Although no longer in his state trooper uniform, Day has in a way returned to his law enforcement past. Soon after becoming a pastor, he took over outreach ministries for Covenant Church. As part of that effort he directs the church’s prison ministry that sends church members to serve the incarcerated population of the Nelson Coleman Correctional Center in St. Charles Parish as well as the Jefferson Parish prison population. In addition, the ministry provides services to the homeless through the New Orleans Mission.

Day has also returned to the Louisiana State Police as a chaplain. He said being a former state trooper has provided him an insight into what law enforcement officers go though in the line of duty and what their spiritual needs may be.

“It is easy to forget that troopers are humans, people with emotions like anyone else. Most of their days are spent dealing with other people’s problems, but they have real stress and issues,” Day said. “For me it was a win-win because they know me and come and talk to me, and they are not concerned about their privacy.”

Day said his next step will include continuing to serve the community, but he is also planning on writing a book.

View other articles written Kyle Barnett

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