Category Archives: Chapels

Religion Helps You Face Hard Duty*

“Every camp in the country and every organization in action overseas has facilities for divine worship. The chaplains who serve in the camps and with the fighting men extend their efforts and compassion into every element of their men’s lives.

“The chaplains are available for advice or consultation on any religious or moral problems, and they are also considerately helpful in any other personal matters brought to them. You can see your chaplain without asking the permission of any superior. You can attend the church service of your choice each week, unless you have specific duties with which such attendance would interfere. Most chapels also conduct programs during midweek.

“Religion is always most strengthening and helpful to people whose lives are troubled, and whose realization is greatest that forces beyond their own control may alter their lives. As a soldier in a savage and brutalizing war, you can find peace and comfort in religion. With a foundation of religious understanding, you can build a broader character out of the experiences which await you.

“At the very beginning of your military service, establish the habit of attending chapel; get to know your chaplain. Preparing your mind for the shocks of combat is an opportunity which will always be yours in the Army, but it is not the kind of thing you can accomplish frantically at the last moment  when you may need it most.”

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* From Army Life, War Department Pamphlet 21-13, 10 August 1944 (TCK Archives).

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Army Chaplain

Life-1942-Army-Chaplain-009-50 (2)“The chaplains who went to war with U.S. soldiers in 1917 were often called ‘Holy Joe.’ The chaplains who are going to war in 1942 are more apt to be called ‘Chappie,’ a nickname indicative of an enlarged relationship. Army chaplains today have assumed a multitude of functions that make them resemble unofficial morale officers Apart from his purely religious duties, the average chaplain acts as adviser to the lovelorn, consoler of the sick, jailed and troubled, athletic director, organizer of recreation, banker, postmaster, lending librarian. He is, says grateful rookies, ‘the lonely soldier’s best friend.

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Read the rest of the article (161 words) and see the accompanying 11 pictures here…

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The Chaplain is the Friend of Every Soldier

In 1941, as the United States was gearing up for its inevitable entry into World War 2, the Army published a booklet to prepare men (at that time) to enter the military service, titled “The Army and You.” It included topics like military courtesy, health, equipment, chow (“Good Food–and Plenty of it”!), promotions and pay; as well as what to expect at the Induction Station, Reception Center and Replacement Training Center.

Of course, one of the benefits of military service this 14-page booklet discusses is the chaplain, as did many promotional pieces of the day. Here’s the paragraph dedicated to soldiers’ religious life and the chaplain who is there for them:

The Chaplain is the Friend of Every Soldier

There are opportunities for religious worship at all posts, camps, and stations. Although attendance is not compulsory, every inducement is offered the soldier to attend church services, either at the post chapel or at the church of his faith in the nearby towns. Become acquainted with the chaplain. Part of his duty is to serve as your friend, counsellor, and guide, no matter whether you belong to his church, another church, or to no church.

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The-Army-And-You-1941-edited-25

The cover invites the potential soldier into the camaraderie found, among other places, a formation of men marching with weapons. “The Army and You,” U.S. Government Printing Office, 1941 (author’s collection).

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Worship Services at Compiegne

Soldiers transitioning through the 16th Reinforcement Depot at Compiegne, France in 1944 and 1945 had many opportunities to worship while there, to include Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Latter Day Saints and Christian Science services and studies.

Ministering in the 16th were 2 Catholic chaplains: Chaplains Welsh and Duggan; 1 Jewish chaplain: Chaplain Decter; 4 Protestant chaplains: Chaplains Powers, Swartz, Jones and Grim; and 2 “lay readers”: Major Hotaling (Christian Science) and Sergeant Mitchell (Latter Day Saints).

Here’s the schedule:

WW2-Compiegne-Religious Services-30

Front cover and schedule of worship services at the 16th Reinforcement Depot at Compiegne, France, 1944-45 (author’s collection).

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The Church and the Chaplain (1952)

FM-21-13-50“The Army recognizes the importance of religion in the American way of life and in your training as a soldier. For that reason, a complete program of religious training is provided for soldiers of the three general faiths, Catholic, Jewish and Protestant. This program for the spiritual and moral welfare of the soldier is the responsibility of the commanding officer and is carried out through the chaplain assigned to the unit Chaplains advise commanders in religious matters and work directly with soldiers in helping them solve their problems. The chaplains have volunteered for this duty and it is their desire to be of the greatest possible service to soldiers and their dependents. Separate religious services usually are conducted for members of the three faiths, but it is sometimes impossible to conduct a separate service for each group. When this is the case, a general religious worship service is held. Attendance at these services is, of course, entirely a personal matter, but if you participate, you will find them a source of inner strength and your job as a soldier will be made easier.

“If your church requires that you attend services of your denomination, see your unit chaplain and he may be able to direct you to a chaplain of your faith in the area, or to a church of your faith in a nearby community.

“Available to you also are other religious activities such as Sunday school classes, Bible study classes, Holy Name Societies, and the Serviceman’s Christian League.

“Remember that the chaplain is always available to help you as a personal counselor. He will be happy to talk to you about any personal problem and will try to help you find a solution. Anything you tell him is confidential and privileged. This means tha the cannot be required to repeat anything you have told him. The chaplain will visit soldiers in the guardhouse or hospital, and you may call upon him to conduct religious services such as baptisms and weddings.

“It is customary to address these officers as ‘Chaplain,’ but Catholic chaplain may prefer to be called ‘Father’; Jewish chaplains may prefer to be called ‘Rabbi’; and Protestant chaplains sometimes prefer to be called ‘Reverend.”

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Taken from FM 21-13, “The Soldier’s Guide,” Department of the Army, June 1952 (author’s collection).

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“Doubly So When Wars Increase”

Living, working and playing among the Service Members they minister to, chaplains usually have insight into the struggles and feelings of those Service Members. They help them try to navigate their troubles successfully through many means, based on their strengths and talents. Some use poetry, as did Chaplain Henry W. Habel, who by March 1945, had been an Army Chaplain for three years.

Chaplain Habel was from Buffalo, New York and graduated from Acadia University in Nova Scotia before pastoring churches in Kentucky, Pennsylvania, New York and Canada through the Baptist Church of the Northern Convention.

The following poem, written by Chaplain Habel, was found in a worship bulletin from 6 May 1945, from the 13th General Hospital Chapel in New Guinea where Chaplain (Major) D.O. Luginbill and Chaplain (Captain) L.V. Walters were the chaplains.

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Our Worship

Oft men feel they’re “in a spot”,

Wondering how to bear their lot,

Grieving that there must be change;

“Why?” they ask. “Tis all so strange!”

 

Such the case in time of peace;

Doubly so when wars increase.

Yearning hearts cry every where,

Weighed with this most awful care.

 

Here’s a truth. Grasp it with me.

Change is a necessity!

Through it better days are born,

Life made wholesome while it’s torn.

 

Hardships build a stronger man,

Vision full, a will that can,

Satisfied with simple things,

Fighting all that evil brings.

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Religion Follows the Troops

Chaplain Robert P. Canis Describes How Religion Follows the Troops

Washington, D.C. [ca. 1945] – Chaplain Robert P. Canis now assigned to a general hospital in Europe has described to the General Commission on Army and Navy Chaplains, Washington, D.C. how he has conducted services in strange and inconvenient places. He pays high tribute to the response given to spiritual matters by American men in uniform. Chaplain Canis said:

“Three weeks after arriving in England, I was assigned to a general hospital. Our chapel was a Nissen hut completely furnished with every aid to worship. In May we took leave of it and ever since have worshiped in a chapel in the fields. In our England staging area that chapel was a long tent with mother earth for pews and a rough board covered with the chaplain’s blanket for an altar.

“On our last Sunday in England this chapel became the scene of a most unusual departure Communion Service. All else was already on its way across the channel. A few hymn books, and a field organ borrowed from a neighboring hospital chaplain constituted the equipment of our tent filled with officers, nurses and enlisted men seeking that extra bit of spiritual strength needed on the shores of Normandy. But in spite of the absence of every traditional touch of a normal chapel service, the atmosphere seemed more alive with honest faith than ever before. Members of all denominations came to the altar to receive the Communion. Some knelt, some stood, and some cupped their hands to receive the bread. Others received it directly in their mouths. While still others served themselves.

Continue reading this article, Religion Follows the Troops

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Lackland Air Force Base Chaplains’ Program-1950’s

About five years after the establishment of the U.S. Air Force as a separate department of the War Department (Department of Defense by then), the Chaplains’ Department of Lackland Air Force Base, home of the Center of Basic Airmen Indoctrination and the Air Force Officer Candidate School, published a brochure which briefly describes the Chaplain Program of the base. The brochure includes some interesting pictures of religious support operations on Lackland (author’s collection).

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“The Chaplain Kit” Offers a Window Back in Time

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Defense Logistic Agency HQ Dedicates New Prayer Room

Prayer, meditation room gives HQC employees calm atmosphere to practice spirituality

by Beth Reece. Originally published by the DLA at their website.

DLA Prayer Room

Army Capt. Demetrius Walton, DLA’s deputy command chaplain, kneels in prayer in the McNamara Headquarters Complex’s newly renovated prayer and meditation room. Above him is an LED light box that depicts a stained glass window from the Defense Distribution Susquehanna Chapel, which was built in 1941 and is one of the Defense Department’s oldest chapels. (Photo by Beth Reece)

Fort Belvoir, Virginia — A quiet, serene spot for prayer and reflection is just steps away for McNamara Headquarters Complex employees.

The former chapel in Room 1331 is now a newly renovated prayer and meditation room open 24/7 for employees of all faiths. A Feb. 16 ribbon-cutting ceremony will formally open the room to employees, but it is already available for use.

“We’ve redesigned the space so everything inside helps with prayer and meditation,” said Army Col. Carleton Birch, the Defense Logistics Agency’s command chaplain. “We also took into account different types of faith, so instead of being filled with chairs, there’s an open space on the floor for meditation and Muslim prayer.”

A water fountain, scenic wall mural and guest book where employees can record prayer requests are among the updates. Other changes include all new ceiling tiles, recessed lighting, carpet, furniture and prayer rugs. A private room is also available inside for pastoral counseling and reading.

DLA Prayer Room

A water fountain, scenic wall mural and guest book where employees can record prayer requests are among the updates in the McNamara Headquarters Complex’s meditation and prayer room. (Photo by Beth Reece)

Perhaps the biggest highlight of the room is an LED light box that depicts a stained glass window from the Defense Distribution Susquehanna Chapel, which was built in 1941 and is one of the Defense Department’s oldest chapels.

Birch said the room further demonstrates DLA’s commitment to resiliency, a goal that’s part of the “People and Culture” objectives in the agency’s strategic plan. The DLA resiliency model includes four pillars: mental, physical, social and spiritual.

“DLA recognizes the value of people’s spirituality in their personal resiliency, and the fact that we can provide a place to practice that is a good thing for employees and DLA as a whole. People don’t stop having faith just because they come to work,” Birch said.

He hopes the room will become a center where employees can also exhibit their faith by helping others.

“We used to collect toiletries for homeless shelters in the area, for example. We’re trying to get that going again, and we’re also partnering with the Fisher House here on Fort Belvoir to see what we can do to help them,” Birch added.

DLA Prayer Room

The McNamara Headquarters Complex’s prayer and meditation room features a private room for pastoral counseling and reading. (Photo by Beth Reece)

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This article first appeared at the Defense Logistics Agency’s website, 15 February 2017. The photos, taken by Beth Reece, appeared with the article and are in the public domain.

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