CBF selects Navy officer to lead chaplaincy program

Capt. Gerald Hutchinson has been a Navy chaplain for 25 years but also has extensive church and denominational ministry experience. He takes over from George Pickle, who retired in June 2013.

By Jeff Brumley

The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship has selected a 25-year military chaplain to run the program that oversees the roughly 700 chaplains and pastoral care counselors it endorses.

The Fellowship announced on its blog Thursday that U.S. Navy Capt. Gerald Hutchinson will take the helm as chaplaincy and pastor care services manager. Hutchinson's Facebook page lists him as the current deputy regional chaplain for the Naval District of Washington.

Gerald Hutchinson

Hutchinson, a chaplain who’s served in combat posts from Afghanistan to Africa, takes over the position from George Pickle, who retired in June after more than 10 years on the job.

Jim Pope, who previously served as a chaplain at sea and ashore with the Navy, has been the interim since Pickle stepped down.

In a statement released by CBF, Hutchinson said he is proud to follow in Pickle’s and Pope’s footsteps and looks forward to advocating for chaplains and pastoral counselors.

He pledged to promote that ministry “within the Fellowship and among our ministry partners” and to represent CBF among national certification and accreditation and employment groups.

The selection concludes the work of a nine-member search committee led by Ray Higgins, coordinator of CBF of Arkansas.

“We strongly felt that God’s spirit led Gerry to apply for this role, and that the spirit led us to Gerry,” Higgins said in a statement released by CBF.

Hutchinson’s vast ministry experience also made him an attractive candidate, Higgins said.

Hutchinson has been a Navy chaplain since 1988 and during his military career he served sailor and Marines in a variety of locations, including combat tours in Afghanistan and a stint as director of religious affairs for Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, located in Djibouti.

He was endorsed by CBF in 1998, and was a member of the CBF Georgia coordinating council from 2006-2008. He has also served as both lead interim and associate pastor of Culpeper (Va.) Baptist Church.

His ministry experience also includes 14 years with the Southern Baptist Convention’s North American Mission Board, serving first as associate director and then director of the church and community ministries department. He was also a missionary with the board from 1981-1987, serving in Jacksonville, N.C.

“Gerry brings a breadth of experience to this job,” said Bo Prosser, CBF ministries coordinator. “He is a church leader, a military chaplain, a social worker and a caregiver.”