Michael Paddy ± Module Seven Written Assignment ± CHPL500 The United States Army National Guard Chaplains¶ Ministry
Worship, Counseling, Visitation, and Readiness-War-Time Preparedness The United States Army National Guard is a unique group of soldiers who having served full time now serve in an ³on-call´ capacity to serve their country when called to do so. The chaplain serving in the National Guard can play a very unique role also. Serving in their ministry in the civilian arena, they can still serve their country fulfilling their calling to a wider base congregation. How do they do this and is their ministry very different from the calling of their local civilian congregation? Worship ± The pastor¶s duties in a civilian congregation would include the performance of a weekly worship service. Depending on the denomination this would include the sermon preparation, choosing of music and Bible readings. It might mean a bulletin or sheet with information and order of service for the minister and the congregation. In the National Guard, a chaplain is faced with the need for flexibility. The normal weekly routine turns into an environment where the indoor comforts of a church or sanctuary become the outdoors in any and all environments. The beautiful pulpit could be replaced by a tree stump. One service can turn into several in one day and several over many days depending on the deployment. It also means that the denominational restrictions and practices of the chaplain¶s home church can see many different soldiers and military personnel from diverse denominational and religious backgrounds in one service. It also means trying to provide important religious observances for people of different faiths, (Bergen 2004, 196) Counseling ± The minister who serves in the National Guard as chaplain will find themselves in a plethora of situations where the best counseling books and education might fall short of the great needs the chaplain encounters in their service to their God and to their country.
Michael Paddy ± Module Seven Written Assignment ± CHPL500 Though the best counselor is always the one who is a good listener, wise counsel must be given to the soldier in the military context. This can only be done through the immersion of the chaplain in the military. Transitioning themselves from their civilian roles to military monthly and during a call into active duty must be challenging but necessary to bring good counsel to those who serve. And the very important role of the National guard during crisis and disaster gives the chaplain great opportunity to serve and counsel civilians as well. Giving them at the moment of greatest need a wise counselor who wears the uniform can be a very rewarding career! A chaplain in the National Guard can be the ³incarnate model´ necessary to be relevant and empathetic when interacting with them. They understand what it means to be pulled from their everyday life and enter the military world. Visitation ± A chaplain in his civilian role as pastor of a congregation sees visitation as a necessary evil, making sure the congregant feels important and noticed. Especially the elderly and shut in who cannot always make it to church, the kind words and ear of the pastor means a lot to them. The soldier serving in the National Guard might feel the confusion of their civilian life mixed with their duty to serve monthly and annually as well when they are called up for extended duty. Just having that visit from the chaplain, working side by side along them can be an incredible morale boost to them while serving. Readiness-War-Time Preparedness ± The monthly and annual duties of those serving in the National Guard especially for the chaplain can only give the training necessary for those who might have to see action in a conflict or war overseas. Nothing can really prepare anyone for some of the tings one sees in war, but the chaplain can be prepared by knowing their calling has a dimension that calls all those in ministry to understand suffering and trails and how to deal
Michael Paddy ± Module Seven Written Assignment ± CHPL500 with it. Getting any and all training can cause even the most faithful chaplain to ask themselves what in the world they were doing in such a place, (Bergen 2004, 191). Conclusion ± The duties and calling of the chaplain in all areas of service to God and to their military congregants has many similarities and many variances that can seem wide when they leave their own congregations and enter into their military service roles in the National Guard. The respect for the collar and the uniform go hand in hand in the military and for the chaplain serving in the National Guard brings great opportunities for the minister looking for service not just to God but to country also! References: Doris L. Bergen, Editor, The Sword of the Lord, Military Chaplains from the First to the TwentyFirst Century, (Notre Dame, Indiana: University of Notre Dame Publishers, 2004)