Mayor Joe Riley, AME pastor receive top awards from crisis chaplaincy

Coastal Crisis Chaplaincy Senior Chaplan Rob Dewey (left) presents Charleston Mayor Joe Riley with the chaplaincy’s person of the year during the groups end of the year breakfast Wednesday.

Charleston Mayor Joe Riley was surprised Wednesday morning as Coastal Crisis Chaplaincy’s Person of the Year.

Riley, unsuspecting and dressed in his classic navy suit, thought he was just going to be a supportive presence at the chaplaincy’s annual awards breakfast at Ms. Rose’s Fine Food and Cocktails. Instead, he was given the J.V. Nichols Award for his dedicated service to the Charleston community and his longtime support of the chaplaincy’s mission.

The mayor of nearly 40 years was presented with a plaque, gift card and gift certificate to a restaurant along with a hand-made stained-glass pineapple by Senior Chaplain Rob Dewey.

“We wouldn’t be here without your support,” Dewey said.

Riley said he was honored to receive the award, which is named after the first board member of Coastal Crisis Chaplaincy.

“I just want all of you to know how grateful I am and how inspired I am,” he said to the full room. “What people can’t understand about my job, because you have to walk in my shoes to know, is the extraordinary opportunity I have to see the goodness of people.”

He commended the chaplains for their dedication to treating the emotions associated with trauma that so many people have in a crisis.

“When a traumatic event occurs ... if you don’t go to the ER right away, then that damage increases,” Riley said. “(It is) the same with people’s emotions. Their hearts, emotions, sadness are all in need of healing treatment in that moment ­— it can’t wait.”

Several other awards were given out to chaplains at the breakfast, including Chaplain of the Year, awarded to Herbert Temoney.

Temoney has been with the chaplaincy for more than eight years. He is also a pastor of St. Luke AME Church and responded to the June 17 Emanuel AME Church shooting that left nine people dead.

“To say he rocked and came through — used all of his training — during our horrible massacre would be an understatement,” Dewey said.

Temoney thanked the other chaplains and said the agency’s organization and quality of response has made them looked upon nationally as an example.

“You have shown what love is all about and ministry of presence and given comfort to a whole church,” he said. “I’m proud to be a part of a well-organized agency that touches the lives and hearts of so many people who need it.”

Reach Melissa Boughton at 843-937-5594 or at Twitter.com/mboughtonPC.