The Heartbeat of Community: Becoming a Police Chaplain

Opportunities to receive pastoral care in today’s fast-paced society are often a rarity, but greatly valued. For nearly forty years, police chaplains have played a significant role in the community often bridging the gap between frontline officers and civilians in their dual role as chaplain and minister. Little is known about the emergence of this group, particularly the chaplains’ needs for learning, education, support and processes of acquisition of knowledge and skills. The training of chaplains is minimal and there were no strategies in place to assess consequences of change, to address work-related problems or to determine future training when I began this doctoral study in 2004 at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS).

The now completed 100 000 word thesis became the first doctoral thesis analysing the practice of police chaplains in Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. Five core components (learning, belonging, connecting, participating and knowing) were developed as part of an explanatory framework based on kinship to explore the chaplain’s role and training needs. I discovered that kinships need to understand the organisation and share that with other members (in accordance with communities of practice theory), to make meaning of the world around them by understanding others (in accordance with culture theory) and to contribute to our identity by understanding ourselves (in accordance with identity theory). More specifically, my thesis identified social and cultural patterns of the professional role and identity of the police chaplain within the police and church cultures examining the chaplains’ professional development and training needs in order to improve services, address problems, provide adequate accountability and respond appropriately to social changes.

Feel free to download the entire thesis on the right plus two published refereed papers

A less academic more readable book coming out soon.


Jade’s Story: A two way street (1st edition published)

I wrote my autobiography to demonstrate that there is hope through adverse situations and to provide tools for those who care for others through such pain. The book is based on my personal story. A story that reaches into the depths of forgiveness, grace, and restoration, saved from a world of drugs, suicide and living on the streets of Sydney, Australia.

Section 1: Sleeping under the bridge
Written in third person, under the name ‘Jade Michaels’, I take reader through two extraordinary years of my life and flashbacks of my childhood memories. My journey also brings out physical, emotional and sexual abuse, trauma, & demonstrates that life was once on the verge of death.

Section 2: Between bridges
The story continues on, but illustrates that life is found in death. Trust, faith, love and forgiveness are core to the story and how transformation and restoration took place in my life.

Section 3: Builder of the bridge
This section becomes a workbook. I developed six bridge building tools so that readers can engage with my story, their story (or a friend’s story), and learn new insights in their life by engaging with their mind, body and heart. The tools can be used privately, one on one, or in group sessions. The six bridge building tools are story, questions, music, theatre, drawing and objects. This section intertwines further with my story and the music CD which contains 10 original songs written and sung by Ben McKinnon and myself.

“This book speaks about an earthy spirituality, forgiveness and restored core relationships.”

– Rev Dr John Reid

 “Melissa is a remarkable person, with a remarkable life.”

–  Rev Dr Gordon Moyes A.C., M.L.C.

  “When I first met Mel as a very reluctant client, she had very little idea of who she was, 
lost in the pain and confusion of rejection, self hatred and despair.”

–  Chris Patchett (LifeLine counsellor 86-88)   

“Mel is a woman with a deep love for people, particularly those who are poor and oppressed.
She is an articulate, gracious person who demonstrates a unique ability to love
the unlovely and to forgive, even those who have caused her great pain.”

– Graham Francis (friend and colleague)

Buy a copy of the published book on the right

Download the first chapter of the 2nd edition - coming soon in iBooks and online 


A Two Way Street

My music CD of 10 songs is now available on iTunes. Search for 'Melissa Baker' or 'A two way street' and you will find it!

Lyrics to the songs coming soon HERE...