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Palm Coast Thursday, Jul. 13, 2017 1 year ago

Flagler County Sheriff’s Office Chaplain Bruce Laurent retires after 30 years

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Jewish Christians Bruce Laurent and his wife, Marlene, are now focused on instructing Christians of their Jewish roots.
by: Jeff Dawsey Sports Editor

While Bruce Laurent didn’t fear the streets of New York or drugs and alcohol — which he regularly used — he always had claustrophobia ever since a childhood accident. But, after he gave his life Jesus Christ, Laurent didn’t know he would be dedicating the next 30 years of his life in the closed spaces of jail and prison cells as a chaplain.

Laurent became a Christian at a First Baptist Church of Palm Coast revival in April of 1986. Later that year, one of his former friend and ITT coworkers was driving drunk when he hit and killed someone walking down the road. Laurent’ friend constantly reached out to him while in jail, but Laurent refused to meet him, due to his claustrophobia.

Finally, Laurent decided to meet and speak with his friend, and, while at the jail, others incarcerated began listening to him. From then on, Laurent took part in prison ministry.

“There has been a lot of fruit from his ministry,” said Marlene Laurent, Bruce’s wife. “Men who were in jail still come up to Bruce and say, ‘If it weren’t for you, Chaplain, I don’t know where I would be right now.’”

Having served 30 years in prison ministry — 26 as FCSO’s chaplain — Laurent also ministered to prisoners on death row. He led a notorious murderer on death row to salvation, and, as a thank you gift, the prisoner knitted a black sweater with a white cross and hat for Laurent, which he still has. Laurent has hundreds of stories he can tell of how he has helped prisoners find hope in rather hopeless circumstances. Even some of those he ministered to have started their own Christian ministries.

In addition to his chaplaincy, Laurent founded Church on the Rock in 1993. And, after nearly 25 years of serving as senior pastor, he transitioned out of the pastor role, and he his wife — both Jewish Christians — will move forward with God’s Original Plan Ministries, a ministry that seeks to teach and inform the Christians of their Jewish roots and the significance of the biblical feasts.

Sheriff Rick Staly held a retirement ceremony for Laurent on Tuesday, June 26, at the Jail. In a press release, Staly said, “Chaplain Bruce made a huge impact on our jail and has helped countless inmates over his 26 years of service. I hope he enjoys all that retirement has to offer.”

When asked about his greatest memory, Laurent spoke of a commercial pilot who went from the jail cell to now leading a Christian ministry in Muslim countries.

“I have dozens of wonderful success stories,” Laurent said. “We’ll see the balance around the throne (of God).”

Jeff Dawsey began his professional journalism career and his Observer employment in August of 2014. He is currently the Palm Coast and Ormond Beach Sports Editor, and he also writes business for just Palm Coast. In 2014, he graduated from Trinity Baptist College in Jacksonville...

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