The Voice for Chaplaincy - Chartered by Congress - Serving Since 1925
Weekly Newsgram - February 6th 2019
Rev. Fred Bahr, Bev. Nevin Crouse, Father Michael Angeloni, and Rev. Gary Moore remember the lives of the Four Chaplains

  Local clergy, veterans, elected officials and members of the public gathered on Sunday, Feb. 3, for the 76th annual memorial service honoring four chaplains who perished Feb. 3, 1943, aboard the U.S.A.T. Dorchester.

   U.S. Army chaplains George Fox, Alexander Goode, Clark Poling and John Washington served aboard the Dorchester, a troop transport ship, which was torpedoed by an enemy submarine during WWII. Though the chaplains did what they could to save others, the ship went down in 20 minutes and 672 men were killed Ret. Maj. Gen. Andrew Anderson of the Military Order of the Purple Heart called it "one of the most tragic losses in WWII," and Larry Hansel of the Military Order of the Purple Heart said "it is such a great thing to remember."

   The service was held at American Legion Post 70 and featured Rev. Fred Bahr of United Methodist Church; Rev. Nevin Crouse of Wesleyan Church; Rev. Gary Moore of United Methodist Church and Father Michael Angeloni of Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church. Bahr led the ceremony and delivered the homily.

   The service began with reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, followed by the entire room singing "America the Beautiful."  During the homily, Bahr spoke about courage and unwavering faith.
"These four men were regular people, like you and I, with hopes and fears and dreams. The one thing hopefully we share with them, is they had an unwavering faith in a loving God, a God that would live up to his promises and be with us no matter what we have to go through."
The chaplains were last seen arm in arm praying, singing hymns, before the ship went down, he said.

   "In those 20 minutes, those chaplains gave us a perfect example of how faith forms courage, and courage relies back on faith. They knew that they were going to perish, but they knew something greater awaited them."

   Fox, Goode, Poling and Washington were each honored by the ringing of a bell, the lighting of a candle and a brief synopsis of their life and bravery, read aloud by the presiding clergy.
Talbot County School Resource Officer, Deputy John Coleman then sang "The Mansions of the Lord," followed by the observation of taps.

   State Sen. Addie Eckardt, R-37-Mid-Shore said she hopes "the four chaplains' stories are carried through the generations of survivors because it is pretty remarkable."
Del. Johnny Mautz, R-37B-Talbot, said it is important for the chaplains' story to be told.
"Sacrifice has consequences," he said. "There is no path or road where we're going to travel, we have to walk that path."

Editor's Note - this is but one of dozens of services held this past weekend for the Four Chaplains. We thank the American Legion and all others who keep their memory alive and important as we seek to honor their sacrifice and commitment. 

Executive Director Notes
Forming an MCA Chapter
Montgomery, Alabama
  One of the initiatives that our MCA leadership has undertaken is to grow MCA chapters where we have a critical mass of chaplains. Clearly this has worked well in Columbia, SC, which has been able to capitalize on the time when all three service's chaplaincy schools were part of the Armed Forces Chaplaincy Center. Now that the Air Force and Navy have returned to their previous "homes," we will be starting with a reboot for a chapter at Maxwell Air Force Base, Montgomery, Alabama.
  Your MCA will host a lunch at the Officer's Club at Maxwell on Friday, 22 February at 1100. While we will be sending out invitations to all MCA members in the Montgomery area, if you are reading this column please help us out by emailing us at [email protected] so we can get a head count on who will attend. That Friday the club will be offering a Southern buffet. All attending will be our guests.

  This is a great opportunity to connect with chaplains who are on current assignment in the area, chaplains who might be attending a course during this time, and any retired or former chaplains living in the area. We also want to make sure that all chaplaincy team members- Active, Reserve, Guard, officers and enlisted- know that all parts of the chaplaincy family are welcome to attend and be a part of MCA.
  Chaplain Bob Hicks, one of our NEC members, has helped lay the ground work for this new opportunity. Both Chaplain Lyman Smith, Captain, CHC, US Navy, Retired, and I will be present at the luncheon. 

  We are looking forward to seeing as many of you as possible. Please do take this opportunity to join us for this wonderful opportunity to come together and help to build a Maxwell/Montgomery MCA chapter.

National Prayer Breakfast
February 7 2019 
Co-Chair Senator Chris Coons

In polarized Washington, a Democrat anchors bipartisan friendships in faith

President Trump doesn't have a lot of nice things to say about Democrats these days. Well, except Sen. Chris Coons.

The same day the president made headlines for angrily walking out on Democratic leadership during shutdown negations (Jan. 9), he was also heaping praise on the Delaware Democrat.

"Senator Chris Coons: On occasion, we disagree, but I actually like him," Trump  said that morning during a bill-signing in the Oval Office. Coons wasn't the only Democrat who worked on the bills splayed across the president's desk, but he was the only one in the room, a fact the senator later said wasn't lost on Trump or his daughter, Ivanka, who was also present.
The president then looked over his shoulder at the smiling senator: "We pray together, right? That's a good step."

The brief exchange highlighted the peculiar niche that Coons has carved out in a Washington  riven by partisanship. A bridge builder with Republicans, Coons is known for helping create rare flickers of bipartisan agreement.

Part of his secret, it seems, is religion. Over the course of multiple interviews with Religion News Service, Coons, who grew up attending Red Clay Creek Presbyterian Church in Hockessin, Del., explained that his faith has not only provided grounding for his own life but has also emerged as a point of connection with Republicans, with whom he has forged lasting relationships - and legislation.

The fusion of service and faith has long fascinated Coons, who in the 1980s  worked with the South African Council of Churches and Archbishop Desmond Tutu to support the anti-apartheid movement. Coons went on to earn a master's in ethics from Yale Divinity School in the early 1990s, while getting a law degree from Yale Law School.

"This is what interests me more than almost anything that I've done in public life," Coons said, referring to the intersection of religion and politics.

One of Coons' closest spiritual confidants is Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., with whom he co-chairs both the weekly Senate Prayer Breakfast and the annual National Prayer Breakfast. (Coons inherited the role in 2016 from Virginia Catholic Sen. Tim Kaine, the previous Democratic co-chair of both events, who asked the Presbyterian to take over after being tapped as Hillary Clinton's running mate.)

"I have several Republicans who are also friends with whom I have gotten closer because of our opportunity to talk and share about our faith journey," he said. "I'd put James Lankford very high on that list."

The Senate Prayer Breakfast is a small affair for 20 to 25 lawmakers from both parties who assemble each Wednesday to discuss religious matters. Its proceedings are kept private outside of vague descriptions of prayer and songs, but both Coons and Lankford said it forges a special camaraderie among elected officials.

For his part, Coons argued these sorts of faith-fueled gatherings are about finding common ground amid controversy, something he says he experienced firsthand with Trump at the 2017 National Prayer Breakfast. Just four days earlier, the president had signed his controversial "travel ban" executive order. By contrast, Coons had worked with several faith groups - among them his home church - to welcome a Syrian refugee family in his state, only to have their arrival paused by the ban.

Coons told an audience last month that he had been scheduled to pray at the event immediately after Trump's remarks but walked over to the president beforehand to voice his disagreement about the ban on moral and religious grounds, saying: "I believe it is wrong. I believe it is against everything in my faith and everything that this breakfast is about."

The exchange promptly turned biblical: "I said, 'Mr. President, I also want to pray for you today.' He looked at me, and then I said, 'We're called to pray for our enemies.'"

Nearly two years removed from the encounter, Coons explained the remark wasn't just bluster. Leaning back reflectively in his office chair, he said he still prays for Trump on a regular basis.
"Frankly, I have found the practice of regularly praying for our president a powerful and purposeful spiritual discipline," he said, acknowledging that it has been "at times a struggle" to get past political clashes and remind himself that Trump is "a child of God."


Senate Chaplain Dr. Barry Black told CBS News Chief Washington Correspondent Major Garrett on "The Takeout" podcast that despite the government shutdown and current political gridlock, senators join together every week for a bipartisan prayer breakfast.

"At end they join hands -- literally join hands in this marvelous kumbaya moment and they actually pray every week," Black said about the 25 to 30 senators who gather each week for the prayer breakfast. Black teaches Bible study each week as well.

The chaplain joked that while senators may be expected to engage in "Thrilla-in-Manila"-style antagonism, off the Senate floor they are able to pray and study together. The "spiritual fitness" of the lawmakers in the Senate is strong, said Black, who is in his sixteenth year as Senate chaplain.

Black also discussed how he offers prayer in a non-partisan way, not endorsing either party's position. He said that he didn't offer his political opinions on issues, but used his prayers as a way to talk to the lawmakers and to a higher power.

"I am talking to God. And I am articulating not only the needs of senators but needs of nation and the world," Black said.

Black serves as chaplain to members of the Senate, their families and members of their staff. Though he is privy to confidential information about the senators, Black said he conducts a "leak-free ministry."

For more of Major's conversation with Barry Black, download "The Takeout" podcast on  Apple Podcasts Google Play Stitcher , or  Spotify . New episodes are available every Friday morning. Also, you can watch "The Takeout" on  CBSN  Friday at 5pm, 9pm, and 12am ET and Saturday at 1pm, 9pm, and 12am ET. For a full archive of "The Takeout" episodes, visit . And you can listen to "The Takeout" on select  CBS News Radio  affiliates (check your local listings).

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