Eleven UCC military chaplains gathered at the UCC's Church House in late May to meet with church leaders and receive continuing training in posttraumatic stress.
Pictured, from left, are: Chaplain Captain James Janecek (U.S. Air Force); Chaplain Lt. Colonel Grant Speece (Army National Guard); Second Lt. Matthew Kolesnik (Army Chaplain Candidate); the Rev. John Gundlach (retired chaplain, UCC minister for government chaplaincies); Chaplain Lt. Colonel David Pillsbury (Army Reserve); Chaplain Lt. Commander P.J. Anderson (Naval Reserve); Chaplain Lt. Beth Stallings (Navy); Chaplain Lt. Col William Stone (Civil Air Patrol); Chaplain Captain Heather Bodwell (Air Force Reserve); and Chaplain Major Eva Buthy (Army).
"All of the national staff who were involved made the chaplains feel very welcome," said the Rev. John F. Gundlach, minister for government chaplaincies. "Joe Malayang [executive minister of Local Church Ministries] hosted a luncheon for the chaplains and key members of the staff and, afterward, we had a dialogue period to allow the chaplains and staff to interact with one another."
A worship service at the UCC's Amistad Chapel included prayers of intercession sent in from chaplains deployed around the world.
The Rev. William Mark, a retired Army chaplain and combat veteran who now serves as post-traumatic stress coordinator at a Veterans Hospital in Bedford, Mass., led training in coping with post-traumatic stress.
"The topic is very timely, considering that a number of our chaplains have been deployed or will deploy to combat areas or will be ministering to those who have," Gundlach said.
UCC General Minister and President John H. Thomas spoke at the gathering's opening dinner, where he shared that his son, David, had recently joined the Pennsylvania Army National Guard. UCC Chaplain Dan Parker, stationed at Missouri's Fort Leonard Wood, was one of the chaplains where David completed basic training and "was a wonderful resource to us," Thomas said.
"Having our military chaplains here at the Church House was an important way of reminding them of the gratitude of the church for their important ministry, often carried out in challenging circumstances," Thomas told United Church News.