David Berube is comfortable in black and white, and most of the places in between. Many know him as an Oak Bluffs police officer, familiar in his black and white patrol cruiser. Others know him as Reverend Berube, equally comfortable in the black robe and white sash of a pastor standing at the pulpit of a church.

They are two worlds that are more alike than different, he says.

After living in both for the past 14 years, working as a full time police officer and spending long stints as a military chaplain in the Massachusetts Air National Guard, Reverend Berube will return this summer to the ministry full time, as the new pastor at Edgartown’s Federated Church. Following his candidate’s sermon last Sunday, the congregation affirmed him as their new pastor.

“Just stopped by, I heard you needed a preacher,” Reverend Berube said as he began the Sunday service with typical humor. Later, just as he was about to begin his sermon, two loud motorcycles roared by the open windows of the church. “Kind of like a fly over,” quipped the Air National Guard veteran.

On Sunday, Reverend Berube gave his first sermon at the church as the new minister. He officially starts in a few months. — Mark Lovewell

Many Islanders know him mostly as Officer Berube. He migrated to Martha’s Vineyard shortly before he volunteered as the chaplain of the Oak Bluffs police department in 1999. That led to some police training.

“I was doing ride-alongs,” he said. “One of my concerns was I didn’t want the guys to become nervous about the chaplain riding along. Is he going to do something stupid, be in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

He enrolled in police academy for special officers, with the intention of learning what it’s like to be a police officer, and came out of the experience with the qualifications to be a police officer, so he began working summer shifts.

In December of 2002, he had proven that his skills in the pulpit translated well to the street, and he was hired as a full time police officer.

“The military ministry and the police ministry were things that I learned along the way,” Reverend Berube said. “You have to be part of the people you’re ministering to if you’re going to be effective in that ministry. It’s a journey we’re on together.”

Officer Berube’s police work has spanned the entire range of situations and incidents. A traffic stop for speeding once escalated to the arrest of a suspect at gunpoint.

With his wife Ellen, at the service. — Mark Lovewell

“That was probably the hairiest situation, when you think about where that could have gone,” he said.

Far more often, however, routine police work was more like his pastoral chores than some might imagine. If an intoxicated bar patron can’t be convinced to get in a cab and go home, the options are clear for a police officer. But his skills as a pastor often helped him resolve situations before the point of confrontation.

“He doesn’t need to go to jail, he needs to go home,” Reverend Berube said. “The balances between caring for people and meeting standards for compassion and enforcement, that whole sense of assessing the situation and finding the right solution.”

Reverend Berube came by police work in the middle of his career. Before moving to Martha’s Vineyard, he graduated from Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary (now known as Palmer Theological Seminary) in Philadelphia in 1987.

He served churches in Revere, Fall River and Hanson, so his new position with the Federated Church is a full circle of sorts.

Getting to know the congregation. — Mark Lovewell

Along the way, the integration of his two careers surprised even him.

“Kind of the model for my ministry is Psalm 23, the part ‘Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for though art with me, thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.’ The rod and the staff are two of the shepherd’s important tools. We always talk about the staff, the shepherd’s crook. That’s a guiding and directing and gentle care-for-the-flock tool. We don’t talk much about the rod....The shepherd had two responsibilities, to guide and direct the flock, and to protect and defend the flock. I really found an integration of my pastoral selves while I was doing police work, which kind of surprised me at first, but now I know why it made sense.”

The Federated Church was looking for what search committee co-chairman Joe Carter called a paradigm shift in the church’s goals. They wanted a new minister who could help the church grow beyond its traditional role in the community. This is not the first time Mr. Carter has looked to Reverend Berube. He was the Oak Bluffs police chief when Mr. Berube volunteered to serve as the department chaplain. Mr. Carter cited Reverend Berube’s work in the military as a place where he ministered to people of all religions, and even people with no religion.

“To minister to such a diverse population of people in an effective way and to provide the organizational morale, uplifting that’s needed, that’s a special person,” Mr. Carter said. “He is the person that can bring about the realization of some growth and energy.”

This is also not the first time the church has turned to a military chaplain to serve as pastor. From 1780 to 1825, Rev. Joseph Thaxter, Jr. led the church. He was one of the nation’s first military chaplains, serving during the American Revolution where he fought the battle at Concord Bridge, and was wounded in the battle of Bunker Hill.

Reverend Berube has a few more shifts left with the Oak Bluffs police department before officially trading his uniform blues for a black robe. He expects to begin full time pastoral work for the Federated Church in mid-summer.

One thing is certain, there will still be plenty of situations where he will need all the skills he has learned in both jobs, to find the right solution.

“Any time you deal with people there is always more gray than black and white. People aren’t machines. If there’s a broken part you can’t just replace it.”