The Voice for Chaplaincy - Chartered by Congress - Serving Since 1925
Weekly Newsgram - December 13th,  2017

Happy 381st Birthday National Guard! 

Major Peter Drury
Chaplain, Ohio Air National Guard


Chaplains as Citizen Soldiers:
A Vital Component of our Nation's Strength


On this date in 1636, the first militia regiments in North America were organized in Massachusetts. Based upon an order of the Massachusetts Bay Colony's General Court, the colony's militia was organized into three permanent regiments to better defend the colony. December 13, 1636, thus marks the beginning of the organized militia, and the birth of the National Guard's oldest organized units is symbolic of the founding of all the state, territory, and District of Columbia militias that collectively make up today's National Guard.

Integral to our National Guard units and structures are the Religious Ministry Teams which are on call to respond at a moment's notice. As one example, following the devastating impact of hurricanes on the U.S. Virgin Islands, the TN National Guard sent a religious support team to St. Croix. "I got a call asking if I could deploy within 36 hours," he recalled. "I went home, told my family goodbye, threw my gear in a bag and hit the road again. That's what we do as Guardsmen." 

"The religious support team mission was to provide unit engagement through advice to leaders, workplace engagement, spiritual counseling, traumatic event managements and worship opportunities," said Chaplain (Major) Mark Smith. The team provided support to the more than 1,400 personnel from 30 states and territories, across all branches of the military in the area.

In addition to spiritual counseling and traumatic management briefings, the team also assisted with three Red Cross notifications and conducted two funerals.

"It was a rare and humbling opportunity to work in a true joint task force with representations from all branches of military service," said Smith. "I knew my background in fire and emergency medical services as well as training in critical incident stress management were valuable skills in the wake of such a large scale disaster. I wanted to serve, so I volunteered."

While Smith was in the Virgin Islands, another Guard chaplain was mobilized and deployed in a support capacity.  Maj. Peter Drury, a chaplain assigned to the 180FW, was deployed to the National Guard Bureau's Office of the Chaplains in Washington, D.C. "Each group that responds has different capabilities and it is important for the command staff to know what capabilities are at their disposal" said Drury as he explained the needs for so many different capabilities in response to national disasters. 

While assigned to the National Guard Communication Center's Adaptive Battle Staff, Drury assisted the Joint Office of the Chaplains, communicating, coordinating and collaborating with partners across various states and territories to establish effective pastoral support, to include North American Aerospace Defense Command, Federal Emergency Management Agency, United States Army North, Air Forces Northern command, and various other National Guard offices.

"A chaplain in the U.S. Virgin Islands called me to request support as he was the only chaplain for three different islands," said Drury. "I was the second call he made, the first was to his wife."

"One of the most important things a chaplain can do is to provide calm in chaos," he continued.

"The impact that providing support and care can have is amazing," said Drury. "There has been an overwhelming appreciation of the support provided."

As the Guard celebrates it's birthday, thousands of our citizen soldiers remain mobilized and in support of our nation's needs. At the beginning of the month, nearly 3,000 remained actively supporting recovery efforts in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico and now over 1,000 have joined the battle against the ferocious wildfires in California. 

Happy Birthday National Guard and our thanks to the Religious Ministry Team professionals who provide support whenever the call is relayed. 

Lyman Smith
Executive Director
Professional Military Chaplaincy Specialty 
an Update

In our last issue of the Military Chaplain magazine we let all know the Association of Professional Chaplains has approved the Military Chaplaincy Specialty as part of their chaplain certification program. The process of implementing this new specialty continues with a target date of March 1, 2018 for the first applications to be received. 

As an update to the article, chaplains holding board certified status via the Association of Jewish Chaplains (NAJC) and the National Association of Catholic Chaplains (NACC) will be eligible to seek the military chaplaincy specialty. Both of these organizations are strategic partners with APC and have full reciprocity in all professional matters. 

Our thanks to Chaplain Maurice Kaprow for his work with NAJC and his support of professional chaplaincy. 

Questions? - please contact Chaplain Jan McCormack - jan.mccormack@denverseminary.edu

Mementos of Pfc. Nellis
Photo by Tech. Sgt. Heather Redman

Remembering Chaplain Assistant Pfc. Joseph Nellis
Died December 7, 1941


When the Japanese attacked Hickam Field on Sunday, December 7, 1941, over 189 people lost their lives. One in particular was a young chaplain's assistant who was setting up for the morning service. Seventy-six years later, a small group gathered in the Courtyard of Heroes for a remembrance service and Catholic Mass in honor of U.S. Army Air Corps Pfc. Joseph Nelles Dec. 10.

"This is a sacred place today-not just because we gather to pray and worship; it's also sacred because we gather to remember," said Lt. Col. David Dersch, Pacific Air Forces staff chaplain. "Whatever our faith background, we share a common legacy of faith and courage. Today, we are ohana-brought together by an amazing heritage."

Nelles was a Catholic chaplain's assistant stationed at Hickam Field in 1941. He was preparing the altar for Mass at the base theater that Sunday when a bomb hit. The theater was completely destroyed and Nelles' body was found at the altar.

In a letter to Nelles' parents, Col. Edmund C. Sliney, the base chaplain, wrote about their son's dedication to both God and country.

"I myself found his body, and from its position, I firmly believe that he had reached the altar and was probably kneeling before it," said Sliney. "Joe was a splendid boy who did much for the Holy Mother church while here, being untiring in his efforts to lead his fellow soldiers to God."

The ceremony was held at the at the Courtyard of Heroes in the Pacific Air Force headquarters building, which still bears the marks from the attack.



Colonel Samuel Stocks Memorial Scholarship Fund

The MCA is pleased to announce a scholarship will be awarded in the coming year to a deserving candidate for the military chaplaincy in memory of Samuel Stocks. Sam was the husband of MCA President Karen Stocks and a great friend of the MCA. He passed away suddenly on Thanksgiving. (see the November 29th Newsgram). 

Donations may be sent to MCA via our website or by mail. Please mark them in memory of Sam Stocks. 


WASHINGTON (CBN News) - While members of Congress serve in Washington away from home, it's the full-time jobs of the House and Senate chaplains to minister to them.

On the Senate side, Chaplain Barry Black leads a flock of 7,000. That's all 100 senators plus their staffs. He counsels them, performs marriages and funerals, and even teaches a weekly Bible study. He also has privileges on the Senate floor, and opens every session with prayer.

"Give us more legislators who are not afraid to call sin by its right name," he recently prayed.

"I am an intercessor and I am praying on behalf of the people I serve," Black told there is a pastor here in the Senate because they can't get to their pastor," he continued.

As Senate chaplain, Black has an intimate understanding of the challenges and pressures facing senators. He offered this prayer recently the day after Republican Senators Bob Corker and Jeff Flake traded political punches with President Donald Trump:

"Lord provide us with more patriots who will stand for right regardless of the consequences," he prayed.

"So I'm involved in their life," Black said. "Ezekiel said, I sat where they sit and I do, and my prayers reflect their aspirations, their dreams their desires, the challenges that they're facing and the solutions to the problems they are grappling with," he continued.

Many Americans fear prayer is dead in the nation's halls of power, that God is no longer welcome in these halls, but Black says take heart.

"The idea that simply because people are involved in government they do not have a connection with the transcendent I think is a faulty one. Certainly, there are morally, spiritually and ethically fit senators and staffers on Capitol Hill and they believe in prayer, they fast and pray. There are some lawmakers who once were interested in pursuing the ministry. There are lawmakers with divinity school degrees who are ordained preachers and there are lawmakers whose spirituality dwarfs my own," he said.

For Black, it's a privilege to serve God and country. He's served 14 years as Senate chaplain and 27 in the Navy where he rose to the rank of Rear Admiral. 

Black relates people drop by his office all the time to pray for him and offer support. "T hey are here to demonstrate to the forces of evil you cannot win. Greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world," he added.
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