A few years ago, an FBI agent showed up at Urshan Graduate School of Theology (UGST) to inquire about a recent graduate. This was an unusual event, and it certainly got the attention of the staff. Soon the purpose for this unannounced visit became clear.
After graduating from Apostolic Bible Institute (ABI), Norm Paslay II served in pastoral ministry in the Cincinnati area for two decades, including police chaplaincy. At the age of forty-five, however, he decided to pursue a master’s degree from UGST, the UPCI’s own institution of higher learning. Indeed, Norm’s advanced degree enabled him to apply to join the ranks of approximately one hundred FBI chaplains, who provide pastoral care within the elite US intelligence community. To qualify for top-secret security clearance, Norm had to submit to a rigorous process spanning fifteen months. Preparation and training would include a trip to the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia, and an extensive array of tutorials and seminars. In November 2015 Norm was approved as an FBI chaplain serving Cincinnati and Dayton, Ohio, a first for a UPCI minister.
In late 2016 another UPCI minister and ABI graduate, Gregg Joki, successfully completed the lengthy qualification process and was hired as the FBI chaplain of Eastern Oklahoma, including the city of Tulsa. Gregg’s more than eight years of volunteer chaplaincy in prisons, jails, fire departments, and police stations provided a solid foundation for his post at the FBI. Gregg was recently selected to speak at a Sunday morning service at Quantico, and has served briefly as chaplain on duty at the FBI Academy. He has also provided training for other chaplains at Quantico.
During a recent interview, Norm Paslay expressed his appreciation for the role UGST played in his personal journey. He was profoundly impacted by the quality and depth of the instruction offered. In addition to the personal benefits, however, Paslay believes the school offers broader advantages for the UPCI. He noted that “the graduate school has put us in a realm of service and acknowledgement that we have not had before.”
New FBI chaplaincy posts will become available in the future, and qualified UPCI ministers who are willing and able to follow the long and arduous path pioneered by Norm and Gregg may someday fill those roles. Of course, a growing number of UPCI constituents serve as chaplains in other venues, such as hospitals, armed forces, police departments, and businesses. That day at UGST, it turns out, the FBI agent was simply verifying Norm’s education history, a single item on the same background checklist used to qualify every FBI agent. As UPCI men and women continue to follow the call of God, who knows where the FBI will show up next?