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Spiritual leaders network at JBLM on service

Northwest Guardian

Published: 05:52PM May 8th, 2014

Danielle Gregory/Northwest Guard

Clergy smile as they get a demonstration from explosive ordinance disposal at the Chapel Support Center during Clergy Day on McChord Field on April 4.

Although clergy from different faiths and denominations sometimes radically disagree on doctrine, something brought them together at Joint Base Lewis-McChord on Sunday.

“You’re all different, but we have a common bond,” said Col. Bart Physioc, senior chaplain at JBLM, during Clergy Day. “We have the responsibility of the spiritual lives of human beings in common.”

Clergy Day was held at the Chapel Support Center on McChord Field with 50 clergy from many different faiths and churches outside JBLM.

The goal of the event was to help clergy learn how to better serve and minister to the service members in their congregations, as well as to thank them for all that they do for JBLM’s families, said Maj. John Shipman, wing chaplain at 627th Air Base Group.

Seventy percent of the JBLM’s service members live off base, therefore outside clergy are the main ones who minister to them.

“They live right outside our doors, and we don’t know them,” Shipman said.

Because of this, JBLM’s chaplains got together and sent invitations into the community.

“We want to get to know them,” said Shipman. “We want everyone to network and be better equipped to minister service members.”

The event started with breakfast and a few words from some of JBLM’s chaplains.

“We serve the same people and care for the same souls,” said Maj. Pierre M. Allegre, wing chaplain for the 446th Airlift Wing. “There are unique challenges and opportunities in ministering to military families. We are grateful that you are all contributing to their resiliency.”

Afterward, each of the clergy introduced themselves and told everyone why they accepted the invitation.

Many said that a majority of their congregations were active duty and retired service members, and explained that they wanted to learn to better reach them and meet their unique needs.

But networking was not the only thing on the agenda. As honorary service members for the day, clergy were in for a treat: They were able to experience some of what service members do every day.

Clergy got a demonstration from explosive ordinance disposal. They were able to see a C-17 up close and visit an aircrew. They visited a dorm and were able to see where some Airmen live. Finally, they ate lunch in a military dining facility before learning about the opportunities to become military chaplains themselves.

By seeing where service members live and eat, clergy will better be able to understand them and therefore reach them, said Col. Bruce Bowers, 446th Airlift Wing commander.

In the end, they returned to the Chapel Support Center where they mingled and started a dialoged with each other and the base chaplains.

Throughout the event, clergy laughed together, took photos and notes and showed their excitement at the opportunity.

“I hope we all come away from this event with a partnership and are able to collaborate to meet service members’ needs,” said Shipman. “I want to thank them for their ministry to service members and for coming to today’s event.”