Carbondale Police Chief Brian Bognatz recently accepted a donation from the Greater Carbondale Area Ministerium in the amount of $200 earmarked for the department’s K9 training program. Pastor Jay Best, Ministerium president, and Nancy Esbenshade, the Ministerium’s treasurer, presented the check to Chief Bognatz and Ptlm. Robert Williams, the K9 handler for the department.

Currently, the department has one police dog, a Giant Schnauzer named Axel, who is undergoing training in narcotics detection, tracking, and apprehension at Alan Finn’s Designing Dogs in Old Forge. Axel will require ongoing training throughout his working life in order to be an effective part of the department.

The Greater Carbondale Area Ministerium is a group formed as a cooperative ministry by area churches. The participating churches have different theological emphases and practices, but according to the group’s literature, all “are united in their allegiance to Lord Jesus Christ” and all “are committed to “spreading His Word and Good News of His love, mercy, forgiveness, and renewal.”

The Ministerium’s stated mission is to be an organization of church and community leaders dedicated to improving the greater Carbondale area by identifying and addressing spiritual and physical needs in the community.

Part of the work of the Ministerium is definitely spiritual. Members of the group meet every Wednesday morning in Council Chambers at City Hall to pray for the well-being of the community. The Ministerium has sponsored Lenten and Thanksgiving services, observes the National Day of Prayer, and has participated in a Good Friday Cross Walk, the All Church Picnic, and the Carbondale Skateboard Competition, a youth outreach event.

Over the years, the organization has also helped with a concert and fund-raising campaign to help support a local housing ministry and the raising of funds to construct a pavilion at the Belmont Skate Park. Future plans include the expansion of the group’s youth ministry and the eventual opening of a café ministry center as a resource for individuals and families.

Funding for the Ministerium’s work, including the money given to the city’s police department, comes from donations. “Money for this check came from donations to the Ministerium. We thought this was good for the community, so we decided to donate,” explained Pastor Best.

He added, “We don’t want to be just heavenly good; we want to do earthly good as well. One of our missions, our strategies, is to identify spiritual and physical needs in the community. We need to recognize that everything has a spiritual component.”

Members of the Ministerium include the Berean Baptist Church, the Covenant Reformed Church, the First United Methodist Church, the First Presbyterian Church, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church, St. Rose of Lima Church, Trinity Episcopal Church, the Lighthouse Worship Center, and the Greater Carbondale YMCA, all of Carbondale.

Additional members include Ascension Parish of Forest City, the Community Bible Church in Greenfield Twp., the Rescue & Restore Church of Olyphant, and the Peckville Assembly of God.

Tax deductible donations to the Greater Carbondale Area Ministerium can be mailed to the Scranton Area Foundation, 615 Jefferson Ave. - Suite 102, Scranton, PA 18510. Checks may be made payable to the Scranton Area Foundation. Please write GCAM Fund on the memo line of the check.