Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Army Chaplain

Well, I've now finished the "Boot Camp" portion of training and Phase I. I am in Phase II of III phases. All is going well but we're very busy. Currenty, we're learning about the history of the Army Chaplain. I'll add an excerpt from my latest paper for those of you who are interested (I think you'd like it, Uncle Don). It may be dry reading, but if you put it all together, the facts are very intersting. I'll also add some pictures I took recently of a trip we took to Fort Sumter. We performed a mock memorial service aboard an aircraft for fallen soldiers. It was very touching and, hopefully, will not often be a necessity.

I hope you enjoy the excerpt below. Blessing to all!

Army Chaplains have a dual role as religious leaders and staff officers. Their duties are prescribed by law, DOD policy, Army regulations, religious requirements, and Army mission. The chaplain is required to hold religious services for members of the command while facilitating a “free-exercise.” They do not exercise command, but exercise staff supervision and functional direction of religious support and activities. Chaplains are not allowed to bear arms. The importance of defining the duties of a chaplain is to give clarity to the murky waters that a chaplain may navigate.

The U.S. Army Chaplain has played an active role servicing soldiers for more than 230 years. Since 1775, approximately 25,000 chaplains have served in the armies for God and Country. Congress authorized chaplain service in 1775. In 1861 chaplains were issued uniforms and recognized in Army regulations. From 1920 and following, the Chaplain Corps has been a branch with a Chief of Chaplains.

Chaplains have notoriously gone to great length to fight a good fight of faith holding to a common valor that unites the troops as well the chaplain. George Fox, Clark Poling, Alexander Goode and John Washington are prime examples (google "The Four Chaplains" for a good story). A common cause brought them together: the desire to render service to their nation during the critical years of World War II. In a world where differences have all too often created conflict and separated brothers, the Four Chaplains found a special kind of unity, and in that unity they found strength. Despite the differences, they they had one unseen characteristic in common that overshadowed everything else -- they were brothers because they shared the same Father.

What paves the way for names to be both written and revered in history? Romans chapter five states: “We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus…and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; perseverence, character; and character, hope. Hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts…” The chaplain has been sought by God and, therefore, must lead others into hope. This is impossible if attempted without the discipline of a soldier, the humility of love, and a longing for those distressed.

An Army Chaplain is an officer, a soldier, and a minister, called by God to serve the soldiers and the soldiers families of the Army. I believe a continuing ethical fight a chaplain must battle within self, as well protect outwardly, is that of religious pluralism. We are messengers of grace to those we minister to (Phil. 2:25-26). We are to be an example of that moral decision. We are to ask what determines right or wrong: character, values, and integrity. The continual consequence of our actions are also addressed. The Army Chaplain is to maintain a level of spiritual readiness by seeking to know God and self at a progressively deeper level. We are to be accountable to a higher level of morality than the normal officer. We should live/be the example. Religious leadership should be modeled courageously: We should stick to our convictions no matter the invoked stress level. Excellence is not meeting the norm, but rising above and doing all to the glory of God; simultaneously respecting the diversity among us.

Monday, July 6, 2009

4th of July Surprise!

The girls had a surprise visitor for the 4th of July weekend! Steve is doing so well in school that he qualified for a "weekend pass"! We didn't tell the girls and they were SO surprised to see him! It was wonderful! On the Fourth of July, we went to the Sunbury Parade together and watched a beautiful set of fireworks from the lawn of the neighbors house. While the weekend did go fast, it was the best 4th of July yet! We love you, Daddy, and miss you again already!