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Joshua C. Shelton, Sr., Chicago Police Department’s youngest faith-based liaison brings compassion and grace to tough job through seminary training

4/25/2018, noon | Updated on 4/25/2018, noon
Officer Joshua Shelton, 33, remembers the time he saw his first homicide victim. It was a young, black male who ...
Joshua C. Shelton, Sr.

Joshua C. Shelton, Sr., Chicago Police Department’s youngest

faith-based liaison brings compassion and grace to tough job through seminary training

Officer Joshua Shelton, 33, remembers the time he saw his first homicide victim. It was a young, black male who had been shot and killed and left dying on his feet in the vestibule of his apartment building, while his family, including a small child, was just upstairs.

“[That] was something I couldn’t get out of my head for a long time,” Shelton recalled. “This man had died standing up, and his family was just upstairs. We had the fire department escort them out of the building using a ladder through a window. We couldn’t let them see him like that, or see the blood, or the crime scene. For a long time, I couldn’t get this victim out of my mind. I had to pray about it constantly.”

Shelton, who is pursuing a Masters’ Degree in Urban Leadership at Northern Seminary’s South Side Center for Urban Leadership, works full-time as the faith-based liaison with the Chicago Police Department’s (CPD) 7th District in the Englewood neighborhood. It is a community he grew up in as a child. He is the youngest police officer in the City’s history to serve as CPD’s faith-based liaison, a job in which he takes great pride.

It is in Englewood, with a declining population of about 35,000 residents, that he has come come face-to-face not only death, violence and crime, but also the effects of poverty, under-resourced public schools, a lack of mental health services, economic opportunity and gainful employment for both youth and adults.

Shelton is a preacher’s kid, whose passion for evangelism and was expressed through music ministry. His father, Dennis Shelton is senior pastor of Anointed Work Worship Center and continues to mentor his son who serves under his dad’s leadership as first assistant pastor of their faith community. And, if the younger Shelton’s work in law enforcement and active ministry aren’t enough, the married father with three children, is also Illinois State Youth Auxiliary President for the Pentecostal Churches of the Apostolic Faith, where he travels throughout the state.

He is a 2008 graduate of Southern Illinois University with an undergraduate degree in sociology; and he earned a Masters Degree in Christian Theology from Olivet Nazarene University.

The soft-spoken officer said it was his work in the 7th District that led him to the next phase of his pedagogical journey when he was invited to enroll in Northern Seminary South Side campus located in the old Hirsch High School at 7740 S. Ingleside in Chicago’s Chatham neighborhood.. Students enrolled in the program engage with complex social and cultural issues facing urban communities, including systemic racism, poverty, violence, and incarceration. Shelton said he was encouraged to pursue the program by one of his mentors, Dr. Gerald Dew, senior pastor of Antioch Baptist Church in Englewood, and director of the South Side Center and affiliate professor of ministry.

“Dr. Dew saw something in me and so he encouraged me to pursue this degree with an understanding of what I faced as a police officer in an urban community,” said Shelton. “When I mentioned I didn’t really have the money to attend, Dr. Dew worked to get me scholarships and donations so I could pursue my studies.“