Military 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:
October 23 - 26, 2017
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|
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!
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 http://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]|