The Voice for Chaplaincy - Chartered by Congress - Serving Since 1925
Weekly Newsgram - October 31st 2018

Faith in the aftermath of a storm

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla -- Hurricane Michael swept through Tyndall Air Force Base on October 10, 2018.

Immediately following the event, multiple major commands mobilized relief assets in an effort to restore operations after the hurricane caused catastrophic damage to the base, to include chaplain services.

Chaplain Major Zachary Nash, 633rd Air Base Wing deputy wing chaplain, Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, received a call the following Monday morning asking if his bags were ready to go with his only response being, "my bags are always ready to go sir."

However, he wasn't as prepared for what he was about to see arriving at Tyndall AFB.

"I couldn't believe the breath of the destruction," said Nash. "I've been around tornado damage before and this is like a 30-mile-wide tornado hit Tyndall Air Force Base."

The chaplain's initial job was working with Task Force Harp to help the families returning to their homes for the first time since the storm. They provided moral and spiritual support as they decided what was salvageable and what they would have to claim on insurance or count as a loss.

"We assisted in funneling them to the many resources available whether it was insurance claims or linking them up with our mission partners on the base," said Nash.

Now the chaplains on base have started supporting the enduring presence on Tyndall as the rebuilding process begins.

"The chaplain core are assessing what people need for moral, and religious accommodations," said Nash. "We are also providing confidential counseling and advice to commanders."

Even with current life at Tyndall being more like an expeditionary setting, more similar to a deployment than to what you would find at a normal stateside base, the moral has been high.

"There's two reasons for everyone's moral staying so high," said Nash. "One is that many of the people here, deployed from another location, are exercising specialties that they are trained to do. The second part is, if you're from Tyndall, or even if you're an Airmen from another base, you're taking care of your own."

Additionally, people being able to see immediate effects from their actions during the recovery process, may be the reason for everything staying on schedule. 

"Kudos to our leadership - Col. Brian Laidlaw, 325th Fighter Wing commander, his team and the task force members have been working tirelessly to meet and exceed benchmarks," said Nash. "It's apparent that Col. Laidlaw and all the people working with him have, first and foremost, the Airmen in their heart and in their minds. That has been encouraging to our Airmen because they see it."

This past weekend, the chapel began services in one of the temporary tents. Their goal is to provide as much normalcy as possible for the more than 1,200 service members deployed to the base.

Executive Director Notes

   If each Executive Director has had a "theme" that was the primary focus for their tenure, it is quickly becoming clear to me that it is "the profession of chaplaincy." We who have chosen this path less traveled have a remarkable set of resources to draw from, provided, of course, that we know what they are.
   I spent this morning sitting on a "mock committee" for board certification by the Association of Professional Chaplains of a chaplain with two residencies under his belt, who is as many of us are, a "department of one." 

   I was struck by his energy, his focus, and his willingness to go through this process. When asked "why" he would want to do this his response was very straight forward: "If I want to be taken seriously by my colleagues, I need to be serious about what I do, and one way of doing that is being board certified and then following up each with continuing education to be the best chaplain I can be." 

   He is right on the money, and that is one of the reasons we have partnered with APC for the advanced chaplaincy certification of Professional Military Chaplain.
   We will be discussing that at length next week- yes, next week!- at our National Institute, 5-7 November, at the Sheraton Pentagon City, 900 Orme Street, immediately next to the Air Force Memorial. 

   I have had a number of conversations by email and phone over the past week - both presenters and attendees - and this promises to be one of the strongest set of workshops and speakers that we have had in years, thanks to the remarkable work our Communications Director, Chaplain Lyman Smith. 

   I look forward to seeing many of you there, and for those of you are Army colleagues, the US Army Chaplain Regimental Association will pick up with their biennial meeting at the same hotel 7 thru 10 November.

Fr. Razz Waff, DMin, BCC

Chaplaincy in a Post Truth World
November 5, 6 and 7, 2018
Sheraton Pentagon City, 900 S Omre Street, Arlington VA
November 5th - 
 National Executive Committee Meeting all day
 Member Reception 1830
November 6th -
 Optional Seminars - 0830 - 1200
   Plenary Presentations 1330 - 1615
  MCA Annual Business Meeting 1630 - 1730
  Awards Banquet 1830  Speaker - Chaplain of the Senate Barry Black
November 7th - 
 Memorial Service - 0830 - 0930
 Keynote Address 
 Annual Meeting - 1100 - 1200
 Emerson/Sustaining Members Luncheon - 1200

Meeting registration form on the MCA website

Note: the United States Army Chaplain Corps Regimental Association will be meeting at the Sheraton Pentagon City immediately following our meeting - for more see their website here

MCA Hotel Registration

If issues on the Sheraton Web Site with rooms please call the Sheraton Front Desk and if necessary, ask for Natasha in sales - phone - 703-521-1900

INDIVISIBLE is based on the extraordinary true story of Army Chaplain Darren Turner and his wife Heather. With a strong, faith-filled marriage, the Turners are ready to follow their calling: serving God, family, and country.

Fresh from seminary and basic training, Chaplain Turner and his family arrive at Fort Stewart. Yet before the Turners can even unpack their new house, Darren is deployed to Iraq. Heather is left taking care of their three young children alone ... as well as serving the families of the other deployed soldiers.

Despite a desire to stay connected with their loved ones, the harsh realities of war take a daily toll over the course of the Battalion's extended deployment. Meanwhile back home, babies are born, kids keep growing, and nerves are frayed with every late-night knock on the door.

With deeply etched battle scars, the soldiers' long-awaited homecoming is much different than any of their families anticipated. Carrying burdens the other can't comprehend, the Turners must decide if they're willing to face one more battle: the fight to save their marriage.

From the director of The Grace Card and the studio that brought you Fireproof and War Room comes INDIVISIBLE, the story of one marriage ... one family ... under God. The movie stars Sarah Drew, Justin Bruening, Jason George, Tia Mowry, and Madeline Carroll.

story by Adelle M. Banks

(RNS) - U.S. Army Chaplain Darren Turner and his wife, Heather, faced the trauma of war on the battlefield and the home front when he was suddenly deployed to Iraq days after he entered the military chaplaincy.

A decade later, their story is portrayed in the movie "Indivisible," which opens Friday (Oct. 26) and features "Grey's Anatomy" actors Justin Bruening and Sarah Drew.

The film portrays the struggles that the Turners faced, including their marital separation. Now reconciled, they worship at a Presbyterian Church in America congregation near Fort Bragg, N.C.

Darren Turner, 45, an active-duty chaplain, talked with Religion News Service about the stresses on military families, the roles of chaplains and coping with faith and doubt.

The movie depicts your challenges in war and your initial inability to share your experience with your wife as she kept the family together at home - both before and after your deployment. What are some of your key pieces of advice for couples in this situation - military couples?

I came home and I did not think that my wife would understand what I had gone through. My heart was broken at losing so many guys. I bent in on myself, so to speak, and didn't let her in to even see if she could possibly understand or help. I chose to be around my buddies more frequently than I did my own family because they got it. That's a horrible decision that I made. I hope that no one ever makes that again, but that's the reality of coming back from a situation like that. I was basically living like a single guy for 15 months. So my advice for folks in the situation today is, trust your spouse. Get to know them, get to know their story. Don't just hang onto your story, thinking it's more important than their story. They've been through battles too - maybe not getting shot at but the daily battles of life.

The movie also brought to light the roles some spouses have, helping families cope with the death and injuries of their loved ones in the military. Do you consider them to be sort of lay chaplains?

My wife was absolutely a huge part of our team. I was deployed. She was back home. But we were dealing with a lot of the same scenarios. When something bad happened when I was deployed, I was dealing with it on the front lines. Then a day or two or three later as news trickled back, and even sometimes with the case of injured soldiers - they were sent back pretty quickly - she was on the back end helping those families, watching the kids while the wife went to the hospital or organizing meals for people to bring over. She was in ministry front lines just like I was. It just didn't look the same.

Near the end of the movie, your character has a discussion with a more senior chaplain about faith and doubt. What has your work taught you about the way those two go together or don't?

I've learned through these experiences as a chaplain that our God is not able to be put into a nice tidy box like I had put him in. It wasn't that I was totally immune from life crises or death or sicknesses. But in the military, I was confronted with a harshness not only of U.S. soldiers but of the Iraqi people, of world politics, of people who find themselves in really, really dire situations. If so, why would God allow that? I had to come to terms with the fact that everything is working toward God's favor. It's sunk deep into my soul that even in tragedy, even in crisis, there is goodness to be found, that God is working. We can curse God. But his intent is that even in those horrible things - because we live in a fallen world - the goodness of God is still evident if we choose to look and find that he's there.

Congratulations to former Air Force Chief of Chaplains

CSU installs third president Dondi Costin

Charleston Southern University has formerly installed President Dondi Costin as its third president.

In a full schedule of inauguration events that included a worship service celebrated with faculty, staff, donors, alumni and members of the community, Costin was sworn into office inside Lightsey Chapel Auditorium.

Among Monday's speakers, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott charged the college's newest president to remember the mission of Charleston Southern University, "to promote academic excellence in a Christian environment."

In his statements, Costin described Charleston Southern University as a comprehensive university grounded in the liberal arts.

"We call them the liberal arts because they are the liberating arts...they have liberated us from the shackles of our ignorance and the handcuffs of our sinfulness so that we can understand who God is and who we can be if we know him better," he said. "Every single faculty member, every staff member, every coach, when they wake up in the morning...(they) say, 'God, help me today, connect a student's life to you much better than they were yesterday.' That's what this university is all about."
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