On December 19, the executive editor of SBC LIFE was privileged to interview the commandants of the Army, Navy, and Air Force chaplaincy training centers and four other army chaplains stationed at the Armed Forces Chaplaincy Training Center located at Fort Jackson, South Carolina:
Chaplain Colonel Steven Keith, Director, Armed Forces Chaplaincy Center,
and Commandant, US Air Force Chaplain Corps College
Chaplain Captain Kyle Fauntleroy, Commandant, Naval Chaplaincy School
Chaplain Colonel David Colwell, Commandant, US Army Chaplaincy
Center and School
Chaplain Colonel Byron Simmons, Director, Capabilities Development
and Integration Directorate, US Army Chaplain Center and School
Chaplain Colonel Allen Kovach, Director of Training, US Army Chaplain
Center and School
Chaplain Lieutenant Colonel Mark Penfold, Chief, Training Execution
Division, US Army Training Center and School
Chaplain Major Tom Allen, Instructor, US Army Chaplain Center and
Three of these are endorsed by the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. Endorsing agencies instruct the chaplains in doctrine and practice; the chaplaincy training center instructs chaplains in proper military etiquette and provides training for performing pastoral ministries under combat conditions.
Because of the US Constitution, only the endorsing agency has religious authority over the chaplain. Therefore, a chaplain cannot perform religious support contrary to his or her faith tradition, tenets, and beliefs.
Chaplains are to perform for their own, provide for others, care for all.
The two primary duties of the military chaplain are spiritual care and leadership advisement.
Chaplains advise their commanding officers on all aspects of religion, providing religious, moral, and ethical leadership. They advise on such matters as:
• Accommodation of religious needs of soldiers and their families in
support of the free exercise of religion;
• Religious and ethical issues in the operational theater, including
conversancy with the area’s dominant religions and religious dynamics;
• Needs and concerns of soldiers and families, including matters such
as suicide intervention, substance abuse, and other at-risk behaviors;
• Marital and parenting stressors routinely associated with extended
• Individual and unit morale and cohesion as units recover from combat
Chaplains must Nurture the Living; Care for the Wounded; Honor the Dead.
Nurture the Living includes formal worship services, individual discipleship, religious education, advising command, and coordinating and caring for families back home.
Care for the Wounded includes ministering to those with physical injuries and illness as well as dealing with survivor’s guilt, substance abuse, and post traumatic stress disorder. In addition, chaplains provide preventative care through applied suicide intervention training and marriage care courses.
Honor for the Dead includes conducting funeral services, organizing honor ceremonies when bodies are flown home, and accompanying an officer for every notification of death. Sometimes a chaplain’s most effective ministry during a death notification is to the notifying officer.