Category Archives: Chapels

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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Fort Jackson’s Cantonment Chapel

Similar to U.S. military posts around the country during the train-up to our participation in WW2, Fort Jackson had built on it 17 cantonment chapels to accommodate the religious support of the thousands of new Soldiers who were flooding into it for training. Today, there are few of these chapels left, some posts having one or two being used, others with one being preserved as part of the museum system or historic districts. Fort Jackson has one of these chapels remaining which, due to budget cuts, is slated to be razed. On 13 December 2016, The State newspaper did an article on the future of their Memorial Chapel.

Should Fort Jackson’s World War II-era Memorial Chapel be saved from demolition?

Fort Jackson Memorial Chapel

Memorial Chapel (Originally Chapel #1) was built in 1941 (Photo from The State website).

“For more than 30 years, Kathryn Woodward has attended an interdenominational worship service each week at the World War II-era Memorial Chapel on Fort Jackson.

“Today, the chapel, along with all other World War II-era wooden buildings on Army installations across the country, is slated for demolition. They are inefficient, expensive to heat, cool and maintain, and they don’t fit the needs of the modern workplace, the Army says.

Fort Jackson Memorial Chapel

Interior of Memorial Chapel (photo from The State website).

“But Woodward, 92, believes the chapel should stay because in 1983 it was dedicated by then-Fort Jackson commander Maj. Gen. Albert Akers to all the soldiers who trained at Fort Jackson for service in World War II. Woodward’s late husband, Arthur, was also a World War II veteran.

 “The chapel — along with 16 others constructed at the fort during the buildup to World War II — were initially dedicated 75 years ago Wednesday.

“ ‘We’re trying to get an exception,’ said Woodward, who is joined in the effort by many of her fellow 40 or so congregants, along with a Jewish congregation that also worships there.”

Continue reading at The State website

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The Chapel of St. Mark at Fort Marion

Castillo De San MarcosFort Marion, now a U.S. National Park site, is the oldest existing masonry fortress in the United States. It sits at the harbor entrance at St. Augustine in Florida. The Chapel of St. Mark, which was part of the original fort built by the Spanish, is an excellent representation of Spanish-Catholic commitment to providing a worship space for their garrisoned soldiers.

The Spanish arrived at the present site of Fort Marion in August if 1565 and established the colony of San Agustín in September. Having barely survived attacks from the French and British with their hastily-built forts, on 2 October 1672, the Spanish broke ground on what would become Castillo de San Marcos but it would take 84 years to complete.

In 1740, enough of the fort was completed to offer safety to the besieged garrison and citizens of San Agustín when James Edward Ogelthorpe, from the British colony of Georgia, attempted to conquer it. The fort proved to be impregnable as canon fire from Ogelthorpe’s guns did little damage. During the 27-day siege, “the garrison chapel was the scene of daily Masses, and occasionally marriages and christenings…”1

To continue reading this article click here

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The Jesuit Chapel at Old Fort Niagara

Jesuit Chapel Old Fort Niagara

A modern picture of the Jesuit Chapel at Old Fort Niagara showing a French reenactor, from the Old Fort Niagara National Park website.

The French began building on the site of Fort Niagara in 1679. The third building project on the site was the “French Castle” built in 1726-27. As you go up the stairs to the 2nd floor, on the left is the “Jesuit Chapel,” which may be the oldest military chapel in the United States (depending on the criteria used for assessment). The inclusion of a chapel at the fort would have proceeded with little thought, since France was a Catholic country at the time and the majority of its Soldiers would have been devout Catholics, needing an appropriate place to celebrate Mass. When in control of the British, the worship space would have been used for Anglican services, before returning to Catholic use again later in its history.But throughout the life of Old and New Fort Niagara, there has been a chapel available for the worship of God.

To continue reading this article, click here

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