Bishop’s Cross Award
Bonnie & Jim Campbell
Chaplains on the Harbor, Westport

The Rev. Bonnie and Jim Campbell have served critical roles at Chaplains on the Harbor since its founding—first as volunteers, then Jim served as treasurer and bookkeeper while Bonnie led pastoral care ministries. Their unwavering and stabilizing support for this Spirit-led ministry over the past eight years helped Chaplains grow from $500 and a backpack full of sandwiches (with no staff and no building) to a parish of 600 poor, homeless and incarcerated people with a budget of nearly $1 million, a farm, a community center, fourteen staff, two transformative federal lawsuits in defense of homeless people’s human rights, and poor people routinely gaining direct audiences with the highest levels of governance in this nation.

While Bonnie has served on the front lines spearheading pastoral visits to jail, street outreach, winter shelter oversight, and employee support for formerly homeless and formerly incarcerated staff, Jim managed much of the behind-the-scenes work of accounting, liaising with the diocese, and generally elbowing his way into meetings and committees the rest of the community had no access to due to criminal records, age, and poverty.

It needs to be said that while Jim would often argue over details (like the exorbitant amount of money spent on hot cocoa), when it came to the big stuff—like defending the vision, or standing beside us despite threats, vitriol, and violence—he was stalwart and completely unapologetic in his support of Chaplains. He was a constant champion.

For Bonnie’s part, she has been a secret weapon in many tight situations—a true ace up Chaplain’s sleeve at countless court dates, city council meetings and phone calls to the county jail, where the presence of “nice church lady friend” to the stigmatized and criminalized parishioners has disarmed many judges, corrections officers, and elected officials.

Jim and Bonnie were called to this ministry by God and the irrefutable evidence of this is in the lives they have touched. Through their devotion and labor, they both have brought concrete good news to the poor, bound up broken hearts, and preached light and liberation to those held in literal captivity.

It is my great honor to give the Bishop’s Cross Award to Bonnie and Jim Campbell.