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In Memoria

The American Correctional Chaplains Association


The President, officers, and members of The American Correctional Chaplains Association wish to extend our deepest condolences on the homegoing of Chaplain Alva Don Yancey.
To: his wife Brenda, daughter, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. and the Yancey Family
Whereas, John Donne, a priest in the Church of England, wrote words that still resonate with us today. He said: “for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.”
You have heard these words before. They speak to us of life and death—but there’s a central theme of our brotherhood and sisterhood—our connectedness, our interdependence, the strength that we gain from each other—and the loss that we sustain when one of us dies. When he talks about the tolling of the bells, he is referring to a custom of that day. When there was a funeral in a village church, they would ring the church bell—once for each year of the person’s life. People would stop and listen. If the bells rang many times, they would say, “He had good innings.” There was something satisfying about that—something right about a life that had run its course.
Whereas, Chaplain Yancey’s life ran its course. He attended Williams Baptist College at Walnut Ridge, Arkansas, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Ministry and Sociology. He received a Master of Arts in Ministry and Counseling from Luther Rice Seminary in Atlanta, Georgia. Don received an Honorary Doctor of Divinity from the School of Chaplains, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, in Ministry and Counseling. Don served as pastor in Mississippi, Tennessee, and Arkansas for over forty years.
Whereas, in 1965 he married Brenda Wolfe. To that union were born two children, six grandchildren, and two great grandchildren.
Whereas, he started in the Arkansas Department of Correction (now Division) as a religious volunteer in 1984 at the East Arkansas Unit. He used to tell the story that after applying and interviewing nine times for a professional chaplain’s position, in 1992 he was hired as staff chaplain at the Cummins Unit. He served the East Arkansas Unit from 1997-1999. While at East Arkansas he organized a group of volunteers and inmate laborers to build a chapel. The chapel at East Arkansas was built at a cost of $125,000.00. When it was finished it was debt free and paid in full. It was then dedicated and presented to the State of Arkansas and The Arkansas Department of Correction (now the Arkansas Division of Corrections). In 1997 he was promoted to Administrator of Religious Services after Chaplain Holly retired.
Whereas, Love called and Chaplain Yancey stepped down as administrator to help raise his two granddaughters after the passing of their mother. Chaplain Yancey’s love for prison ministry led him to continue in chaplaincy as senior chaplain at the North Central Unit at Calico Rock.
He was then promoted to senior chaplain of the Newport Prison Complex, consisting of McPherson and Grime Units.
Whereas, Chaplain Yancey helped to revive the South-Central Region of ACCA. The South-Central Region comprises the States of Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Texas, and New Mexico.
Whereas, Serving as regional manager he developed training for correctional chaplains. He organized and taught annual conferences for correctional chaplains. He stepped down as regional manager in 2008 after nine yeas of service.
In 2003 during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Chaplain Yancey encouraged all Arkansas State chaplains and volunteers to volunteer at refugee centers for victims of Katrina in Arkansas.
Whereas, the State of Texas laid off many of their chaplains, Chaplain Yancey encouraged the members of ACCA South-Central Region to support Texas Department of Criminal Justice chaplains by going to the capital and delivering bags of cookies to Texas legislators. Inside the bag was a message on the need for correctional chaplains.
This ministry led to the establishment of an American Correctional Association (ACA) Committee on Restorative Justice. This committee is still functioning.
Don was a member of the American Correctional Chaplains Association (ACCA), the American Protestant Correctional Chaplains Association (APCCA), the United States Chaplains Association, the Church of God of Prophecy Chaplains Commission, and the American Correctional Association (ACA).
Therefore, Be It Resolved: The Bell rang many times for Rev. Dr. Alva Don Yancey. It rang to say: A life well lived.
Humbly submitted,
Rev. Norma J. Gillom, President, American Correctional Chaplains Association
Rev. Leo Brown, Regional Manager, South-Central Region, American Correctional Chaplains Association

Chaplain Alva Don Yancey

ACCA Remembers one of its own …

(Photo courtesy of the Baptist General Convention of Texas)

TX chaplaincy relations director Bobby Smith dies

Bobby Smith, founding director of Chaplaincy Relations with the Baptist General Convention of Texas, died Oct. 18. He was 68.

“For 25 years, Dr. Bobby Smith faithfully and capably served Texas Baptists. For over 20 years, he worked to create one of the finest chaplaincy programs in the United States,” said Katie Frugé, director of the Center for Cultural Engagement.

“His ministry legacy is a worldwide network of chaplains serving in every corner of our communities under the umbrella of Texas Baptists. As we grieve his passing, we also celebrate the monumental impact he made and thank God for the eternal impact Bobby Smith had on so many.”

Smith served as a chaplain at the University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston from 1997 to 2001. In 2002, he became the founding director of Texas Baptists Chaplaincy Relations, a ministry that endorses and trains chaplains in the areas of military, correctional, lifestyle, public safety, healthcare, marketplace, crisis response and pastoral counseling.

‘A chaplain to the chaplains’

Since the ministry’s creation, more than 1,125 chaplains have been endorsed, including 650 active chaplains.

Smith was honored in September for his years of service at the Chaplaincy Relations 20th anniversary banquet. He was described as a “chaplain to the chaplains” by those in the ministry, and chaplains shared stories of the many times Smith provided support as they and their families went through hard times.

During the banquet, the Chaplaincy Endorsement Council announced the Bobby and Vicky Smith Endowment Fund would be created in honor of Smith and his wife for their years of dedication. To learn more, click here.

Smith received his bachelor of arts degree from Howard Payne University in 1976. He also earned master of divinity and doctor of ministry degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth.

Before beginning his chaplaincy ministry, Smith was pastor of First Baptist Church of MullinFirst Baptist Church of Mont Belvieu and First Baptist Church of Galveston.

EDITOR’S NOTE — This story was written by The Baptist Standard and was originally published on their website.