Military & VA Chaplains Please Read
|Military Chaplains Association Annual Meeting Information & Authorizing Letter|
Dear Military and VA Chaplains of The Coalition of Spirit-filled Churches and Friends,
Several of you have been asking about a good professional conference to attend and one where we would be present. One such conference is the Military Chaplains Association National Institute and Annual Meeting. The Annual Meeting will be held this year from:
November 5-7, 2018
Some commands will pay for travel and conference expenses if the endorsing executive is present, as we will be at this conference. You can download the authorizing letter HERE.
|Dave's Occasional Blog|
12 September 2018
As most military chaplains know, one must safeguard their DoD-issued CAC Card at all times.
Here is a PDF reminder. Apparently there is a new phone app that can capture ID information if give the opportunity to take picture or scan of the card.
Also, we do ask for a copy of the CAC of current military members who are applying for endorsement. However, in that we are doing so for the purpose of avoiding an unnecessary criminal background investigation report to be run AND we are a DoD-recognized and vetted entity for the endorsement of chaplains. We have legitimate need and use. If we do ask for such a copy, FEEL FREE to black out or cover-up the bar code on the card.
11 September 2018
Please read the letter From A Concerned Active Duty U.S. Army Captain.
When I read such letters on the MRFF website, it gives me great pause and concern for the military chaplaincy. Such chaplains violate the very intent of the military chaplaincy. We are “to perform or provide for the Free Exercise of Religion for All.” We are NOT try to establish our own religion’s (or church’s) beachhead to defeat all other religions or perceived threats to our particular faith. If you see your ministry in the military as “beachhead ministry,” as apparently these men do, we really need to talk. Please call me and let us reason together. Oh, and if these sort of things are going on at your installation, I expect you to be courageous men and women of God to report it — either directly or indirectly — so that your conscience is not violated by inaction (if not complicity). This is the sort of thing that is not only unethical and collusional but will ultimately destroy the chaplaincy as a corps — turning it into simply a large system of religious contractors for specific faiths. If it survives at all.
01 September 2018
Chaplains, be very careful as to who is reaching out to you and for what reason(s).
I should state that this very website is getting “pinged” daily by both China and Russia. Additionally in the last month, AOL has temporarily shut down my access to my personal email account 3 times due to repeated failed attempts to log on. PLEASE be careful as to what you put in your civilian emails and you may want to make sure your password is difficult to guess.
31 August 2018
More fresh “gouge” for Navy Chaplains.
CLICK ON IMAGE TO DOWNLOAD [PDF]
30 August 2018
29 August 2018
The movie INDIVISIBLE is coming to theaters in October. It is about the Army life, deployment, and marriage of Chaplain Darren Turner. While I have not seen the movie (only the trailer that I’ve posted), I have known and worked in the past with Chaplain Turner. He strikes me as a real person, honest and forthright, and a good chaplain. I look forward to seeing the movie.
I suspect that many of you chaplains reading this blog also have profound stories that need to be written down and the stories and lessons learned shared with the public. Please consider this my challenge and encouragement for YOU to do so!
29 August 2018
Attention Navy Chaplains: Hot off the press!
CLICK ON IMAGE TO DOWNLOAD [PDF]
28 August 2018
Sadly, this is also true of many chaplains, especially if the seminary from which they graduated stressed evangelism and church growth over pastoral care and counseling.
Mental health is a topic that a lot of churches and pastors feel uncomfortable addressing.
20 August 2018
“The court suggested that there may be some gray areas regarding the establishment clause, but the need for soldiers to be afforded the free exercise of religion took precedence. It is also important to note that the court described the environment as a 'pluralistic military community'. Both of these concepts, together, constitute the primary legal basis for the existence of the chaplaincy today: a chaplain's primary purpose is to ensure that, in the pluralistic military community, all soldiers have the opportunity to practice their First Amendment right to the free exercise of religion. Unfortunately, this stated purpose for the chaplaincy is also its Achilles' heel. Some years after the court case, Chaplain Drazin issued a warning about what he considered to be the greatest threat to the chaplaincy. 'The chaplaincy could be destroyed… by its own members if they were insensitive to soldiers' free exercise rights.' He felt that 'free exercise was the raison d'etre of the chaplaincy, without which it had neither rationale nor constitutional basis'.” 28
While this document is several years old and was the publication by a friend and colleague, CH (COL) Barbara Sherer, (US Army, Retired), it is still very applicable today:
CLICK ON IMAGE TO DOWNLOAD [PDF]
12 August 2018
Seeing this website, I think, for the first time. Worth a browse!
11 August 2018
This report, just out, ought to be mandatory reading at the 3 chaplain schools, along with a reasoned response as to how that information is going to inform their approach to chaplaincy.
10 August 2018
From the Army War College podquests:
09 August 2018
From a FaceBook posting from Army Chaplain Michael Thomas, posted August 8 at 6:12 PM:
Looking through Computer... found my "Senior Chaplain Guidance" for bi-weekly Field Grade Chaplain meetings... as I read it, it caused me to grin... and miss the days of old.
Do the right thing.
Take care of your business and I will stay out of your business.
Close the loop… If I task you let me know when it is complete. Silence is not golden…it is suspicious.
Be true to your religious convictions. Cooperation without compromise. In the Process BE KIND.
Dignity and respect, not only in person, but also in phone/email communications. (remember, emails are often perceived w/ a tone.) Email is a great way to pass information, but a VERY Poor way to communicate. Get up from your desk and go talk in person, or pick up the phone.
As I make decisions I will consult my NCOIC and Deputy.
In this meeting:
Those in this room realize it now, or you would not be here…you serve both your unit commander and the Garrison CDR by providing general religious support. If your BN chaplains forget, have them bring you their PCS orders…look at either the first or last paragraph.
If you are having problems (worship coverage etc, let us know). My team is not here to whack on you, but to support you.
Meet the suspense! Be professional! Do proper military staff work!!
Business rules… if is a calendar item, please cc Admin Assistant in your email. She runs my calendar.
You are senior chaplains…train your subordinates. Do not sit back and just watch them fail. Each of us wants to leave a legacy…in a small part these men and women will be part of your legacy.
My staff’s mission is to support you in your mission. I see your mission as providing and performing religious support for Soldiers/families. With the resources available, we will support.
Write your own OER. By this I mean, give you raters something to rave about. Do not suck up to your bosses saying, Maam/Sir, I need you to take care of me” if you are doing nothing or little to support their mission. Definitely actions speak much louder than words.
If you want to know what I look for, it is ‘towel ministry’. When I see my team caring for others, serving them and not DEMANDING respect or favors from others, that impresses me. Each of you has the ball…it’s up to you to make the play and get it down the field.
Everyone has an "Official Record" which gets you promoted, schools etc. Your unofficial record [street record] is when DACH Calls me and ask about you personally. My job as COL is to make sure the system promotes, assigns the right person for the right job. I want to say great things about folks, but my job is to be honest with DACH. I will be an advocate for you if you will let me. But I owe the Army a honest appraisal when asked. [Former Sr Chaplain]
This is excellent advice/wisdom. My only suggestion would be to add something like: "Always be honest with all. Have the courage to exercise candor and integrity in all circumstances. Do not claim to honor pluralism while practicing any form of discrimination: sexism, racism, and/or bias towards folks who have differing views of sexual orientation, theology, etc. In so doing, you are not honoring God; you are dishonoring yourself."
30 July 2018
The following information is requested to be passed on to your active and retired Army chaplains (active, reserve, guard) for their interest and assistance. The 9th Biennial Reunion of the USA Chaplain Corps Regimental Association is gathering next November 7-10 at the Sheraton Pentagon City in Washington, DC. Also, the Military Chaplains Association is meeting approximately the same time at the same location. This is the first time both of the largest and most active chaplain associations have met in one place. This is a rare opportunity for endorsers and all chaplains to take advantage of being able to meet with so many colleagues.
Please refer to the website for details and registration at https://chaplainregiment.org.
If you are interested in setting up a vendor's table please contact me at Scottie Lloyd, firstname.lastname@example.org or call 909-553-5193. Thank you for your assistance and blessings to all.
26 July 2018
Just a kind reminder as things seem to be heating up between the President and the Pentagon: The White House Is Making National Security Decisions Without Telling The Pentagon. Please periodically review the attached PDF from the office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel & Readiness.
CLICK ON IMAGE TO DOWNLOAD [PDF]
22 July 2018
Fellow endorser, Bill Cork, asked in the Facebook Army Chaplaincy group:
"War College 'White Board' asked how well the Army is developing strategic leaders. Take a look at the responses. Then ask yourself — How well is the Army Chaplaincy doing it? Do we know what strategic leaders are? Do we know how to develop them?"
Here is my response to him (posted 22 July). I share it as I hope our military chaplains can hear my heart and know my concerns about where I see today’s military chaplaincy.
Strategic leaders? I'd be ecstatic to see the chaplaincy develop leaders who were/are able to think critically. We have more than enough order/process followers. We have a few who are able to plan for THEIR (or their denomination's) end-result and then think thru reverse engineering to achieve it. But there are very few visionary leaders who are actually planning for the future of chaplaincy -- and specifically to produce a chaplaincy that performs or provides for the Free Exercise of Religion for all service-members. I cannot think of any leaders who are talking about this presently as even an issue -- at least openly. This may be because we do not have authentic buy-in to the concepts of pluralism and genuine chaplaincy from the faith groups [at least from many/most of the faith groups and their endorsing bodies]. And unless we soon start, I am afraid it is just a matter of time before: 1. We see a major restructuring of chaplaincy (more contractors and fewer actual chaplains); and /or 2. A chaplaincy that is measured, evaluated, and managed via another branch (e.g., HR Command, etc.). The reasoning for it is the Chaplaincies (AF and Navy included) have a hard time navigating the political and religious agendas of the chaplains and their faith groups currently represented in the three Services' Chaplain Corps. Someone(s) wearing stars may decide that a secular branch ("without a dog in the fight") may be the way to go in managing a hard-to-lead branch with radically differing agendas. And sadly, in my opinion, they may be correct. Something to ponder after a 100 years (of the existence of Army Chaplain School)...
02 July 2018
CLICK ON IMAGE TO DOWNLOAD [PDF]
02 July 2018
Journal of Pastoral Care & Counseling
The Coalition of Spirit-filled Churches is a proud sponsor of the Journal of Pastoral Care & Counseling (JPC&C). Did you know that a benefit of your endorsement and partnership with us is free online access to JPC&C?
Check out their latest volume by logging into the website under the Members Area tab on this website.
01 July 2018
Calling ALL Military Chaplains!
CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION
01 July 2018
Interesting Reading for Navy Chaplains Assigned to the Marines
CLICK ON IMAGE TO DOWNLOAD [PDF]
30 June 2018
Great article complete with Pre-Deployment, Deployment, and Post-Deployment tools!
28 June 2018
Missing Person Tables
Often these tables also contain sacred scriptures. As chaplains seeking to minister to all people of all faiths, it is important that we allow everyone their ability to pause and insert their own holy book onto that table. A good way is to use a blank fancy book. EBay has them for around $13, delivered.
12 June 2018
Want to help save a life? The VA and PsychArmor Institute Offer Online Suicide Prevention Training. It takes just 25 minutes and the cost is FREE!
11 June 2018
A good article to begin conversations about suicide:
11 June 2018
A great source of idea-starters for prayers by military Chaplains:
04 June 2018
All chaplains should take a look at this.
29 May 2018
09 May 2018
Good news for Military Spouses!
04 May 2018
A good running blog for Military and VA Chaplains:
01 May 2018
A word of caution to chaplains:
The National Day of Prayer [this year, May 4, 2018] is a special day and a prayer observance for distinctly Christians to join together for prayer. If you, as military and civilian chaplains, do promote and participate in it, it is only fair to be clear as to what it is and is not about in any of your advertisements.
Please see: National Day of Prayer Statement of Faith.
Blessings and Peace,
01 May 2018
Dear Navy and Marine Chaplains,
I just came across this guidance for the Navy and Marine lay Leaders program, from the Chief of Chaplains.
09 April 2018
Dear Military and VA Chaplain Colleagues,
I read this just now on Todd Starnes. I have been hearing about such displays for the past couple of years. This really is an EASY FIX. Merely place a blank book on the table to symbolize all holy books on the POW-MIA display. That would cover it. And the government would not be accused of establishing or preferring one holy book or religion over another. Government chaplains care for and serve all people of all faiths -- or no faith -- at taxpayers' expense. Right?
05 April 2018
Attention Chaplains and other Clergy, Counselors too!
FB Messenger is NOT private! If you call me via this technology, I will likely not answer. AND keep all confidential messages off of private chats. They are not private.
05 March 2018
US Army Chaplain School 100th Anniversary Celebration!
28 February 2018
Lessons in leadership from the Harvard Business Review:
14 February 2018
Chaplains, you have a role. Please read carefully.
13 February 2018
Principles of Religious Liberty
11 February 2018
I saw this and could not help but see a parable of what mean-spirited "chaplains" are doing to one another, to different-looking chaplains, and to the chaplaincy in general...
Video coming soon... in the meantime, head over to YouTube (link below) to view!
10 February 2018
Military Chaplains: No using personal email for official business!
08 December 2017
02 December 2017
In the past year, we have had Army chaplains called into question about information that came out in pastoral conversations and even “regular conversations/communications,” with pastoral/clergy undertones. The chaplains were subjected to formal investigations as a result of complaints. Our official positions in the event of such a complaint/nomination of investigation are:
18 October 2017
02 October 2017
For Navy Chaplains. Resources for Religious Accommodation and Conscientious Objector Processes:
30 September 2017
I have been out of the country for the past week. I have just returned back to the USA. While overseas, I heard that there was a racial incident at the Air Force Academy Prep School. I heard that the 3-Star General in charge of the Air Force Academy responded by swiftly calling a mandatory formation of all staff and all cadets. Here are some of his comments: USAFA Superintendent: Treat others with dignity and respect or 'get out'.
Specifically he addressed the “Power of Diversity” in an EXCELLENT 12-minute clip posted on YouTube: Lt Gen Jay Silveria on Air Force Cadets: Racist need to get out.. Please click on that link and listen to his presentation and the follow-on interview.
"If you can't treat someone with dignity and respect then you need to get out. If you can't treat someone from another gender, whether that is a man or woman, with dignity and respect, then you need to get out. If you demean someone in any way, then you need to get out. And if you can't treat someone from another race or different color skin with dignity or respect, then you need to get out," said Lt. General J.D. Silveria.
Sadly, I know of military chaplains who, first, need to hear this message, and, take it very seriously. Second, they need to have the integrity to be honest with themselves and the military and repent – and/or, get out! They give lip-service and offer pseudo-commitment to the core values of diversity and pluralism. But do not be fooled. Some of these chaplains truly are racists, sexists, and are intolerant of non-heterosexuals, and of others who are not of their faith. And these “others” include their fellow chaplains whose careers they stealthily sabotage in any manner they believe they can, without harming their own.
Bravo [Zulu] General Silveria! I pray that your passionate message of the Power of Diversity impacts all the Armed Forces and all the branches within in the Armed Forces, especially the Chaplain Corps who are charged with being truth-tellers and with caring for all!!!
02 September 2017
This powerpoint contains excellent information about “Ministry During Chaos: Operating Safely in a CBRNE Environment.” Caution, it contains some actual nauseating photos, but I think it is important for military chaplains to pick up some pointers, God forbid(!) should you ever have to minister in such circumstances. This powerpoint is courtesy of the Army National Guard Chaplaincy:
23 August 2017
A must read for all military chaplains and other personnel:
I especially appreciate the line that we are "NEVER abusing our position nor looking the other way when we see something wrong."
22 August 2017
I have just come across an excellent resource for helping introverts and others communicate their feelings. And perhaps it may be useful in sensitizing extroverts and others as to how they may inadvertently be missing various communication cues. It can be found at. The one on grief is especially helpful:
19 August 2017
Navy Chaplains, some invaluable information about FITREPS.
18 August 2017
While this is neither Army-specific nor Chaplain-specific, this is a great and helpful booklet about Violent Extremism. I would encourage all military chaplains to familiarize themselves with its contents.
11 August 2017
Required reading for Army Chaplains regarding relationships between soldiers. Just published!
08 August 2017
Navy Chaplains assigned to the Marines:
21 July 2017
As many folks do not know, chaplaincy is about caring and ministering unconditionally, to all. From my own Christian tradition, I would say it is about loving and caring for ALL people the way Jesus did.
Congregational ministry is not like chaplaincy. And chaplaincy is not like a lot of denominationally-distinct congregational ministry. In fact, about the only time chaplaincy is like congregational ministry is when the chaplain preaches and conducts worship services. And that, in the military, is a very small amount of the chaplain's time. The rest is spent in pastoral care and counseling to those who seek it. Chaplains are trained to be easily approached to talk about anything with folks and to withhold their own judgement; to help that counselee who is seeking their assistance to be the best person they can be in confoming to the counselee's needs and faith -- NOT the chaplain's. Military chaplains are also expected to be "staff officers" and to train and teach various military policies that may or may not conform to the chaplain's beliefs.
This article was published today in Huffington Post, a publication that seeks to go to areas which are uncomfortable to many. I urge you to read it. It will likely make you a bit uncomfortable -- and hopefully will challenge you to think beyond the obvious.
28 June 2017
20 June 2017
|From Journal of Pastoral Care Facebook
Journal of Pastoral Care Publications, Inc. The Journal of Pastoral Care & Counseling Vol. 71, No. 2, June 1, 2017 is now available online at jpcc.sagepub.com
Members of JPCP Member Associations (ACPE, CASC/ACSS, CPSP, CSC, NAJC, and NIBIC) should access articles from the password protected section of their association websites.
Here is the Table of Contents.
Editorial: Fake Awareness by Terry R. Bard
In the Media
Continuing Education Quiz
16 June 2017
Today, I met at the Society for Pastoral Theology’s annual meeting, Army Chaplain Joshua Morris. He presented on. “The Army Chaplain as Counselor: An Exploration of Self-Reflexivity and Denominational Particularities.” While it is distinctively Army, I think all military chaplains can benefit.
A PDF of his presentation is open access and may be found HERE
27 May 2017
At the APC's annual meeting at the Marriott Marquis in Houston, TX, if you are a CSC endorsee, please join us for dinner.
17 May 2017
I just came across this monograph from the U.S. Office of Special Counsel. Please read and heed!
12 May 2017
I recently have found an update of an old classic, and here it is: The Armed Forces Officer [PDF].
08 May 2017
This short article was delivered at the Military Chaplains Association conference in Arlington, VA this past October and I heard it live from Prof. Robert Tuttle of George Washington University (https://www.law.gwu.edu/robert-w-tuttle), an expert on Constitutional law with a specialization of Church and State issues. I urge all military chaplains to become familiar with this article: Ethics and Religious Counseling in a Pluralistic Environment [PDF]. The whole edition and past editions can be found at https://www.mca-usa.org/magazine/. Also, the MCA is an excellent professional organization that all military and VA chaplains should join, in my opinion.
06 May 2017
I just found a 12-page information PRECIOUS GEM of good banking security advice and cybersecurity pointers as well as regulations, warnings, and precautions in this age of tablets, smartphones, and computers. I urge all to download and read it!
03 May 2017
I am very pleased to see the Navy chaplaincy in a highly proactive stance. The DoD just released a mandated-by-Congress Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military and ways to address it. On page 21 of that report, it states that chaplains are fairly well-trusted as professionals to care for the victims, according to the victims. Then just today, a story was released (http://www.navy.mil/submit/display.asp?story_id=99341) that, “in a unique approach to assist sexual assault victims, the Navy Chief of Chaplains initiated a pilot for a personal resiliency retreat modeled after those offered by the Chaplains Religious Enrichment Development Operation (CREDO)... In the last year, the Chaplain Corps designed a new retreat program for survivors of sexual assault. It's called 'Hope to Healing' (H2H), said Rear Adm. Margaret Kibben, Chief of Chaplains.” Now THAT is being proactive!
20 April 2017
As I have mentioned before on FB and on this blog, military chaplaincy is NOT about being a “government-paid pastor or missionary in uniform.” Rather as the Department of Defense phrases it, it is about being a representative of one’s own faith community to the military who “is willing to support directly and indirectly the Free Exercise of Religion by all members of the Military Services, their family members, and other persons authorized to be served by the military chaplaincies” (Department of Defense Instruction 1304.28 , Para 6.1.2).
As such, it is interesting and significant that the Department of Defense recently updated their Memorandum on Faith and Belief Codes. Namely, they are “adding new faith and belief groups to standardize and better identify religious preferences recognized by the Military Services. The [Pentagon’s Office of] AFCB asserts that these changes to identify the expanded faiths and beliefs will better assist the Department and the Military Services religious support planning by:
The Department of Defense is to be commended, in my opinion, for updating its listing and seeking to honor its commitment to serve all. The memorandum may be found here.
The Coalition of Spirit-filled Churches expects all of its chaplains to be willing and able to comply with this DoD memorandum and to assist, as best they can in a respectful and dignified manner, all who seek their assistance to worship in the manner they are accustomed or to gather for like-minded gatherers to observe their religion/worldview.
10 April 2017
Deploying chaplains: Please be aware that if you are deploying or are already deployed and would like to be supported with goodie bags and boxes for your personnel, we have a place on our website where you can post your USPS address and people will mail you moral support items. Addresses can be viewed here: https://www.spirit-filled.org/deployed.html. To have your address added to the list, email your deployment location, mailing address, and a short message to email@example.com.
Also there is an organization that sends goodies to chaplains as part of their outreach to the military, “Chaplains Wings,” at https://www.facebook.com/chaplainswingsmn.
09 April 2017
This year's Palm Sunday week has been so horrific in the world. With the use of chemical weapons in Syria on families, the American and Russian responses to those chemical weapon attacks, Isis' bombings of Coptic Christian churches in Egypt, I join Pope Francis in asking God, "to convert the hearts of those who spread terror, violence and death..." and I would add, "And Lord please give wisdom and favor and Your protection to our President, his advisors, and our military forces seeking to help bring peace and stability to very troubled parts of the world."
Please join me in prayers.
31 March 2017
I am not sure that the Navy is there quite yet, but at least it is talking about gender equity, and raising questions headed in the right direction:
30 March 2017
A good article on Navy Chaplaincy:
08 March 2017
I know that others may see this as evil, wrong, bad, wrong-headed, etc. But here goes: Military chaplains and chaplaincy are/is not just about Christians. It is about performing and providing for the free exercise of religion, or non-religion, per the Constitution for all service-members and their families. Military chaplains can be Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, or Buddhist at this time in our great nation’s history. And now, within the military chaplaincy, a certain Muslim Army chaplain has risen in rank and responsibility to become a Division Chaplain. Some will fuss and some will curse. Some may assure us that God will remove His hand of protection from the Army. But the fact remains that the US Army has determined that this chaplain was of a superior quality and is able to lead a Division-level spiritual care team to excellence. So here is the story:
06 March 2017
I have been cruising around the internet and I came across a website by an Army chaplain that is LOADED with good Army chaplaincy resources. Great work Chaplain Calvert!
05 March 2017
Interesting February Newsletter by the Navy Chief of Chaplains Office.
03 March 2017
The VA has just released an initial study of veterans exposed to burn pits. Almost 100K veterans have registered. If you are a veteran of a war zone and have been exposed to burn pits or their smoke, please register yourself at Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry. It takes about 40 minutes to complete the questionnaire. You can do it in one sitting or save it and come back later.
Please take this VERY seriously. We have one chaplain who recently retired with health issues who was just told this week by the VA that his health issues are deemed “Gulf War Disease,” and that his condition is terminal. He reports that they actually said that his body was a “chemicals dump.”
27 February 2017
This piece makes a great follow-on to my blog entry of 11 February. When you read it, please add "Personal Blogs Along With" to "Twitter and Facebook are politicizing the military."
22 February 2017
Deploying Folks: Free goodies!
11 February 2017
This week a couple things were brought to my attention.
First, I was sent a document that proved that the Air Force Chief of Chaplains was cleared of wrong-doing when he attended a Christian-activists organization, the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberties, awards event for a retiring US Congressman who had been very helpful to them in Congress with their efforts to promote their causes and issues. [I had not heard of this document and thought that he was still under the formal investigation.] The Chief of Chaplains, along with several other active duty military chaplains, attended in uniform and offered a prayer as part of that award event’s program. At that time (31 July), I posted a concern about that act performed in uniform on both my personal FaceBook page and this blog and referred to that story reported in the Air Force Times as a “cautionary tale” to chaplains and others military members. After all, his and their participation in what some considered a political event obviously caused conflict of interest questions and perhaps endorsement of an activist organization questions sufficient for the Air Force Inspector General’s Office being asked to investigate – and they did and dismissed the case as not breaking any regulations.
Second, I was asked by and active duty Air Force officer (non-chaplain) to retract my comments as being legally mistaken about chaplains and other service-members not being able to attend in uniform at such events -- and even participate with leading public prayer. I was asked to communicate this to Coalition of Spirit-filled Churches chaplains so that they could know that they were free to exercise such rights. This was my response:
I am still uncomfortable with the prospect of military members – especially chaplains – appearing in uniform at activist organization events, even if “just to pray.” I am very okay with them appearing at churches to do so, at community events to do so (voluntarily, of course), at patriotic events to do so, opening or closing sessions of legislative bodies, etc. So, though it may be legal in the eyes of the military, participating in an activist organization (even if it is a well-meaning religious or other non-profit organization) still automatically alienates a segment of the population that the chaplain serves. By definition, every activist organization is advocating and lobbying and attempting to educate and persuade the public and elected officials to vote or be motivated to do something. And they are having to advocate such against other people who feel and believe just as strongly on the other end of the issue. And, ultimately, the chaplain may lose the ability to do his or her ministry to at least one segment of the population.
For example, as a military member yourself, how would you feel about having to talk with your unit chaplain (for assistance in one of the many non-religious things that a chaplain has to do) when you know for a fact that the chaplain has been supportive of a cause in uniform that you feel very strongly negatively about. For instance, last week you saw on the internet that your chaplain offered an invocation in uniform at the awards dinner for retiring politicians honored by The Religious Institute (a multi-faith activist non-profit organization that advocates “for sexual health, education, and justice in faith communities and society”). I am fairly certain you would feel very uncomfortable if you were forced to see him for mere administrative functions, knowing what he supports – and in uniform no less! The uniform, in my mind, lends one to think that the military was even approving of the event. So, those are “the rubs” for me. From my perspective, while a chaplain certainly should be a person of personal conviction, for the benefit of the people who s/he serves, it is best to not alienate those very people.
For a great story of a chaplain from WWII, who really understood this principle, read about the life of Chaplain Henry Gerecke who was the chaplain to the 21 Nazis on trial at Nuremburg. An amazing story of a chaplain who is one of my heroes.
So that is about it. I realize that there are many good and wise folks who will strenuously disagree with me. They will insist that chaplains have their rights and that they need to exercise them -- and be outspoken as best they can. For me, it is far more than exercising my rights. It is about my caring for others and seeing to it that others are cared for. That is how I see a chaplain’s calling. I believe the Apostle Paul said something like “For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some” (1 Corinthians 9:19-22, New King James Version). Unlike pastors and other civilian clergy, military chaplains’ primary role (for which they have been hired) is to perform or provide for the free exercise of religion for all entrusted to their care and spiritual oversight. Perhaps chaplains can waive some of their “rights” [and/or be discreet] for a greater good, at least while actively serving in uniform.
01 January 2017
The following comic strip is HIGHLY controversial and many are offended by both the language and content and themes it explores. Nevertheless, I think it is important for military chaplains to know what is on the minds of the servicemembers that they serve. This comic strip is by and targeted to marines, but I think it is readily identifiable by all in uniform.
31 July 2016
ATTN: Military Chaplains. In this season of heated partisan politics and high-spirited emotions about various hot-button issues, PLEASE take a look at this Department of Defense Talking Points on Political Activities powerpoint, before any more chaplains [see Chaplains violated policy by appearing at event in uniform, according to IG complaint] get into trouble.
And, by the way, there are very good reasons why the DoD has put these regulations into place.
30 July 2016
Some of you have asked if I have a personal presence on FaceBook. I do. I can be found under David Plummer or Chaplaincy@Spirit-filled.org or https://www.facebook.com/david.plummer.180.
Feel free to send me a friend request if you are sincere and a chaplain, especially, a chaplain with The Coalition of Spirit-filled Churches.
24 January 2016
The past several months I have been dealing with several active duty O-3 (Captains in the Army or Lieutenants in the Navy) military chaplains who are highly motivated and creative, caring, and willing to launch-out to do the right things to help those who cannot easily help themselves (because they are low-ranking enlisted or widows of career service-members and have little or no "clout"). Yet, these chaplains are not being supported or encouraged to do so by their senior chaplains -- who are afraid of their junior chaplains making a mistake (and possibly making THEM look bad). In fact, they are being discouraged and even professionally threatened! This perfectionist mentality, a no-risk-taking, and a do-not-rock-the-boat mindset is presently pervasive in the military chaplaincy to a degree that I have not seen in 24 years of endorsing. And there is even a fear to report such to endorsers or to allow their endorsers take action to address real needs in the chaplaincy. This risk-aversion imposed by mid-level and senior chaplains is more than unfortunate -- it is contrary to one of the reasons that the military gives chaplains rank and authority to get the right things done!
I saw this clip from the business world this snowed-in morning, and thought to myself that the chaplaincy could learn much from the business community. The first 5 minutes is worth the time for military chaplains, junior and senior, in my opinion.
|What ALL Military Chaplains Should Read and Bookmark For Regular Review|
All CSC chaplains are expected to maintain a high level of professional chaplaincy statutes awareness. Please familiarize yourself with your service’s Chaplain Service Regulations and Orders.
|Addendum of 11 September 2013, Effective Immediately|
It has been brought to our attention that a number of our colleague endorsers and their endorsing offices recently have issued public statements that they reserve the right to withdraw the endorsements of their chaplains if their chaplains conduct services with other chaplains who are LGBT-friendly or who are providing affirming pastoral counseling and other services to LGBT service members and their families. Be that as it may, we want to remind Coalition of Spirit-filled Churches' chaplains of item 3 on page 8 of 10 of the application that all of our chaplains should have agreed upon and signed:
3. I understand that, if commissioned or appointed as a chaplain, I will be working with chaplains of other denominations and faith groups, sometimes differing widely with my own views, beliefs, practices, and sexual orientation. While I will not be asked to compromise my own conscience and beliefs, it is essential, by the very nature of chaplaincy, that I consider their ordination and ministry as valid as my own in the U. S. military and/or civilian institutions. I understand that an attitude of superiority or adversarial acts and non-cooperation towards pastoral caregivers and adherents of other faiths, practices, race, gender, or sexual orientation will not be tolerated and is grounds for the immediate withdrawal of my endorsement credential. I have read and I agree to abide they the CSC's Statements of "Faith," "Authorization," and "Record." Further, I realize that I must be willing to hold "General Protestant" worship services as well as those services specifically exercising all my own particular beliefs and practices.
In professionally-endorsed pastoral care, we disapprove of such separatism and we consider it not only disappointing, but destructive to collegial relationships and the very institution of chaplaincy.
|August 18, 2013|
With the repeal of DADT two years ago and then the recent ruling against DOMA and California’s Proposition 8 by the US Supreme Court, we have recently been contacted by a growing number of chaplains for guidance on what to do when they are asked to do weddings, conduct retreats, offer various liturgical services, etc., when Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, and Transgendered (LGBT) military members or their loved ones are involved.
The response to those requests have been on The Coalition of Spirit-filled Churches' website for almost two years, but you have to know where to look. We seek to make it clearer with this new button and accompanying page.
We are not a denomination. As such, apart from a very basic statement of neo-Pentecostal faith (or an openness to the same), we do not get into denominational, our groups', or even a single congregation's doctrine, tradition, culture, politics, or policies and practices. We are not legally configured to dictate or impose various policies on our member churches — or their chaplains. Thus, we simply state that you need to follow the doctrine and practice of your ordaining body — which is formally affiliated with us. (See "2011 CSC Policy on Political Statements and Endorsing Agency Policies" on https://www.spirit-filled.org/chapnews.html.) So basically whatever your ordaining community accepts or directs, as members of The Coalition, we will accept. The other piece here is that we do not want you to violate your conscience, either. If you feel you are being pressured to do so, we need to hear about it. We WILL support you as you are following the expectations of your ordaining church.
Last, we expect you to be respectful of and show care and genuine empathy to ALL who approach you for ministry. If you cannot perform a service that you are being asked to do, that is okay, but we expect you to refer that person or couple or family to another chaplain or clergy who can. If chaplains are not approachable, they have very limited usefulness to the very people — or institution — to whom they are charged with serving.
We hope this is helpful and makes sense. We welcome dialog on this topic or anything.
|Guidance from the DoD|
|Guidance from the Air Force Chief of Chaplains Office|
|Guidance from the Navy Chief of Chaplains Office|
|Implications of the Repeal of DOMA|
We understand that the Army Chaplain Corps is engaged in discussions of the implications of the repeal of DOMA at all levels. Recently the attached document was sent out for discussion and feed back.
|Great Resources for Military Chaplains from a CSC Army Chaplain|
These resources are available for you; do not be afraid to use them! It can’t possibly hurt to try. No issue is too small to ask for guidance.
|Resources for Military Chaplains to Care for|
Humanists, Freethinkers, and Agnostics
Military chaplains are to perform or provide for the "Free Exercise of Religion," [and sincerely-held secular worldviews and values] of ALL in their care per Department of Defense regulations and expectations. The endorsing supporter organization of humanist military folks reports that very few chaplains are providing for the care of their community’s military personnel. Their endorsing organization reports that most military chaplains are not even aware of resources to care for these personnel. We are posting a link to a page on their website where they have posted free resources for providing care to humanists and other secular folks. Such is not the CSC’s cup of tea, but it is important that all chaplains honor their word to be there for all — even those with whom they disagree.
|The U.S. Armed Forces Blended Retirement System|
|The U.S. Armed Forces Blended Retirement System At a Glance [PDF]|