According to an official Air Force release, the US Air Force chapel community raised more than a quarter million dollars to aid the victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
In the wake of the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan March 11, members of the Air Force Chaplain Corps on 43 installations helped raise more than $257,000 toward relief efforts for victims of the disaster, officials said here June 9.
The effort began with a call from the Air Force Chief of Chaplains:
On March 15, Chaplain (Maj. Gen.) Cecil R. Richardson, the Air Force Chief of Chaplains, encouraged chapel community Airmen and their families to take designated offerings at worship services to assist the earthquake victims.
The funds went to a variety of aid organizations, including a Catholic aid group and the Billy Graham-founded Samaritan’s Purse: Read more
Recently, an email from an officer announcing a Bible study at Kirtland AFB was the subject of a complaint from Michael Weinstein’s Military Religious Freedom Foundation, leading to the question here, “Can a military officer advertise a Bible study?”
Some relevant quotes from the original complaint, as sent to (and publicized by) the MRFF by an enlisted Airman:
During the past 6-7 months a unit commander, who is now the Deputy Group Commander decided to send mass e-mails to the wing regarding bible study sessions. These are sessions that were led by the individual sending the e-mails…a person in a command position, clearly a conflict of interest. A lot of us expressed concern about the perception that leadership is endorsing what should clearly be a chaplain endorsed and led activity.
Just imagine the following scenario… if you were a young Airman wanting to look good for a Below the Zone package, the Deputy Group Commander is leading a bible study, a young impressionable person might Read more
Newly promoted Chaplain (Col) Jeffrey Houston was awarded the Bronze Star in a ceremony by MajGen David Perkins, commanding general of US Division North in Iraq. General Perkins did not mince words in lauding the value of Houston or Chaplains in general:
“While we may have the best gear in the world and the best training in the world, the thing that makes us special is the people,” said Perkins. “Chaplains, specifically people like Jeff, give us inner strength. That is what he has done for me, and that is what he has done throughout his military career.”
Military Chaplains serve in a unique — and essential — role within the US armed forces. Regrettably, their value is most often noticed in their absence.
(As an aside, last year General Perkins had the pleasure of a meeting with Michael Weinstein — which resulted in Weinstein saying “see you in court.” Naturally, the threat was empty.)
A US military news release documents the story of US Navy Chaplain (LT) James Ragain, currently deployed to Afghanistan. While much of the article covers the standard mantras of Chaplains and their roles, Ragain’s story demonstrates the strengths of having a military Chaplain integrated with a combat unit:
“He’s probably the greatest secret weapon I have here in my squadron,” said Marine Corps Lt. Col. Clarence Harper, the squadron’s commanding officer. “The way he goes about building religious Read more
The following email recently took a turn around the “religious complaint” circuit:
From: [ ] LtCol USAF AETC 58 OG/CD
To: 58 SOW All Personnel
Subject: 58 SOW Bible Study: Every Wed, 1200-1300 in the TRS Auditorium
You are invited to a weekly 58 SOW Bible Study on Wednesdays, from 1200-1300, in the 58 TRS Auditorium-a Chaplain-sponsored event. If you are interested, read below for more details: Read more
The previously-covered bronze statue of a Chaplain comforting a Soldier has now taken its place in a memorial at Fort Jackson. Fort Jackson is the relatively new location of the US military’s combined Chaplain school. The memorial also includes a wall naming the 294 fallen Chaplains and Chaplain assistants since the Revolutionary War.
A Chaplain candidate recently explained what motivated her to join the US military Chaplaincy:
[Doretta] Fortenberry spent quite a bit of time visiting with battle-weary, solace-seeking soldiers [during a deployment to Iraq].
“They knew I was a Christian and would come ask me spiritual questions,” Fortenberry said. “We ended up losing six soldiers while we were there. Soldiers started to come to me trying to understand, questioning the deeper meaning of life, why does this happen, what happens when you die? Death was a real reality, and still is, for soldiers.”
It became obvious to Fortenberry that she could combine military with ministry.
“All of a sudden, there it was,” Fortenberry said. “This is what God Read more
Similar to the prior story from Afghanistan, US troops in Haiti also found a local religious leader with whom to worship.
Father Glenn Meaux, originally of Abbeville, La., was able to minister to Louisiana National Guardsmen and other troops deployed in Task Force Bon Voizen in Haiti. Father Meaux moved to Haiti in the late 1980s, and the senior enlisted leader of the Task Force knew he was there. The unit’s Chaplain was able to find Father Meaux on the internet and arrange for him to minister to the American forces there: Read more