Gary Knighton has served as chaplain for the Payson Police Department for several years and has now taken on the duties as chaplain for RTA Hospice.
Most people know Knighton as the pastor for First Southern Baptist Church. However, the beloved pastor left his duties there and is dedicating his time to being a chaplain for Hospice in Payson.
"Working with Hospice is a real challenge," Knighton said. "I love to reach out to people with the love of God."
The holiday season is also a time when Knighton reaches out to the public to show support for fallen law enforcement officers.
Knighton was instrumental in bringing Project Blue Light to the attention of this community. Project Blue Light is a nationwide public awareness program wherein people are asked to include a blue light(s) in their holiday decorating plans to show support for officers killed in the line of duty. Additionally, it is a show of support for those who continue to work the streets 24 hours a day, every day of the year.
"This will be the third year our community has participated in this effort," Knighton said. "I hope our community will help in honoring our police officers, those who died in the line of duty and those who continue to patrol our streets."
Knighton has been a dedicated police chaplain and is used by Payson police often in a variety of settings.
"He provides our employees, who often work under stressful conditions, with opportunities to seek spiritual counseling in a confidential setting," Payson Police Chief Gordon Gartner said. "He also assists with many difficult situations, such as death notifications."
Knighton admits his inspiration in life comes from the Bible and contemporary Christian music. Most recently he has been inspired by a book titled "Blessed Child."
"It's an astounding book about the influence of one person committed to sharing God's love in the world," Knighton said. "The person is a 10-year-old boy in love with God and the people of the world. He spreads God's love wherever he goes and that love transforms lives. The presence of God's love brings peace, power and provision."
Knighton said the one person he would most like to meet is Billy Graham, whom he calls evangelist to the world.
"I am in awe of his spiritual power and humility," Knighton said.
Knighton has many sides to his personality. There is the dedicated pastor and chaplain offering counsel to the bereaved or distraught ... and then there is the fun-loving father, husband and friend.
Not many men would place a bet with teens that leads to the bleaching of your hair. Knighton did and had the dark roots to prove it for weeks.
Knighton also has a little of the "Beach Boys" in him, spending time with his friend Tom Tieman in San Diego every summer becoming "expert" boogie boarders.
There is also the Knighton who takes quiet walks with his wife Edithe. He is also the cheerleader for his two daughters as they compete in cross country, soccer and track.
Knighton personifies the three words that he says describe him; Christian, compassionate and intense.