|Cmdr. Don Troast talks to a crewmember of the Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Montpelier. Troast recently assumed duties as the first force chaplain of the submarine force in 15 years. U.S. Navy | Xander Gamble photo.|
"Because of my personal experience with the Submarine Force," said Troast, "I think I have a good handle on what religious support requirements for the Submarine Force are."
Troast previously served the Submarine Force as a squadron chaplain from 1994 to 1997. He also served as command chaplain for the USS Harry S. Truman Strike Group and various Marine Corps units deploying to the Far East and Afghanistan.
Troast attended Hope College in Holland, Mich., where he majored in biology and physical education with the intention of being a high school teacher and coach. He then received a call to ministry and went to the theological school at Drew University in Madison, N.J., graduating in 1978. Ordained by the United Church of Christ, he served churches in the Boston area for 13 years and joined the Navy Chaplain Corps in 1991.
"[Chaplains] exist because of the free exercise rights of religion granted by the First Amendment of the Constitution," said Troast, a native of Boston, Mass., "and I would be bold enough to say that if that phrase wasn't in there, we probably would not be in the military.
"Our primary function is to ensure the free exercise of religious rights for sailors, marines, airmen, the military in general, and in my case, the Submarine Force, is met. Our sailors, marines, and coast guardsman go to places where they can't just go to their respective place of worship, so we bring it to them."
Troast, like every Navy chaplain, is required to facilitate the needs of every member's religious needs, regardless of their faith.
"We aren't called to violate our own beliefs in any way," said Troast, "but by policy, training and professionalism, we make sure that all the faith groups present have their requirements met in some way, shape or form as possible, especially in an operational environment."
The Department of Defense does not endorse any specific religion, but it recognizes more than 900 faith-based non-profit organizations, represented by more than 200 different denominations of chaplains.
"One of my roles as the force chaplain is to do a needs assessment of the force," said Troast. "My own personal philosophy is that I don't want anyone left behind. I don't care if it's just one person or two people. If their religious life or spiritual life is important to them, it's a mission-readiness issue. I think every submariner deserves to be able to practice their faith the best way they can, and the best way we can meet their requirements, especially on deployment."
Although he is the first force chaplain in 15 years, he doesn't feel like he is starting anything new.
"The key thing is the lay leader program," said Troast. "To be honest, I think it is more important in the Submarine Force than anywhere else in the Navy because submarines never have chaplains on board."
Troast plans to standardize the program throughout the force so that sailors' religious needs are met the best way they can be. "If a chaplain or a religious programs specialist wants to exceed the identified minimum requirements by adding their own flavor or pizazz, that's great! Good on them," said Troast.
"You don't have to be religious to see the chaplain," said Troast. "If you just need some counseling or some coaching, that's for everybody. I always remind everybody from the commander down to the seaman that they have 'privileged communication,' which means that whatever is discussed privately stays private."
Troast is one of more than 60 UCC clergy serving the U.S. Armed Forces as active duty or reservist chaplains.
Malayang, LCM Executive, to retire in November
The Rev. Jose A. Malayang, a veteran UCC leader and passionate encourager of local churches, has announced his retirement, effective late November.
Since 1999, Malayang has served as a member of the UCC's five-person Collegium of Officers and as executive minister of the UCC's Local Church Ministries, which he led into creation as part of the national restructure inaugurated in July 2000.
"It is not an easy decision for me to make because serving the UCC, and Local Church Ministries in particular, gives me a genuine sense of fulfillment and, yes, joy," he wrote in a Feb. 22 announcement.
This year marks Malayang's 45th ordination anniversary and his 47th consecutive year of ministerial service. Ordained in the United Church of Christ in the Philippines, Malayang spent nearly three decades as a local church pastor, serving both small and large congregations in the Philippines and in Michigan.
He later served as staff of the Southern California - Nevada Conference and with the former Office for Church Life and Leadership. He also was general secretary for the division of evangelism and local church development, an agency of the former United Church Board for Homeland Ministries.
Malayang earned a B.Th. degree from Silliman University in the Philippines, a B.A. from the University of the Philippines and a M.Ed. from Wayne State University in Detroit.
"Joe's long career demonstrates a deep faith in God and a joyful love for Christ's mission and Christ's church," said General Minister and President John H. Thomas. "In every setting where Joe has served, he has witnessed to a great passion for the ministry of the local church and I am grateful for the many ways he has strengthened our congregations and encouraged our pastors and lay leaders."
In consultation with Thomas, LCM's board of directors is responsible for selecting Malayang's successor, through a search and call process. That decision also must be affirmed by the 90-member Executive Council, which acts as the General Synod ad interim. Although unlikely, if a candidate for the office was named before General Synod in June, then the delegates at Synod, not the Executive Council, would formally elect LCM's new leader.
The Rev. Paul Minear, a renowned biblical scholar, died Feb. 22 at age 101. Author of more than 25 books and a key translator of the Revised Standard Version and New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, he was a professor at Yale Divinity School and UCC-related Andover Newton Theological School. Minear's ashes will be interred in the memorial garden at First Congregational UCC in Guilford, Conn., where he was an active member. Survivors include his wife of nearly 80 years, Gladys, and three children.
The Rev. B. Davie Napier, a UCC minister, civil rights activist and former president of UCC-related Pacific School of Religion, died on Feb. 24 at age 91. A former professor at Yale Divinity School, he later was dean of the chapel and professor of religion at Stanford University, where he was active in the anti-war movement and joined others in blocking an entrance to a military recruitment office. Since retirement from PSR, he was a resident of UCC-related Pilgrim Place in Claremont, Calif., where he remained active in justice advocacy. Son of missionary parents, Napier became a "revered professor," according to current YDS Dean Harold Attridge.
A class of seven diakonal ministers - the most recent graduates of the Faith-Based Leadership Institute of the UCC's Council for Health and Human Service Ministries - were recognized on March 3 at St. Andrews UCC in Louisville, Ky., during CHHSM's 69th annual meeting. Those commissioned after completing the year-long service-based continuing education program were Mike Readinger, CHHSM's vice president for business services; Brian Magnone, UCC-related Retirement Housing Foundation; Mona Price-Huffman, UCC-related United Church Homes and Services, Newton, N.C.; John Garrett, UCC-related Peppermint Ridge, Corona, Calif.; Judy Alexander, UCC-related Emmaus Homes, Inc., St. Charles, Mo.; John Zinn, UCC-related Hoffman Homes for Youth, Gettysburg, Pa.; and Gayle Klopp, UCC-related Charles Hall Youth Services, Bismarck, N.D.
The UCC's Council for Health and Human Service Ministries recognized several persons and programs during its annual meeting, March 1-4, in Louisville, Ky. Honorees included the Rev. David Taylor, board member, UCC-related Back Bay Mission in Biloxi, Miss. (Faithful Trustee Award); Ada "Sissy" Minor, an employee at UCC-related Good Samaritan Home in Evansville, Ind. (St. Stephen Award); Elinore Gold, a volunteer at UCC-related Phoebe Richland Health Care Center in Pennsylvania (Towel and Basin Award); and the Bridgeways Renewal Project at UCC-related Phoebe Home Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Allentown, Pa. (Exemplary Program Award).
The Julius Varwig Award, presented in partnership with the UCC Professional Chaplains and Counselors, honors the work of exemplary UCC chaplains. The 2007 recipient is the Rev. DeLois Brown-Daniels of UCC-related Advocate Health Care in Chicago.
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Alger, Dennis to Zion UCC, Gresham, OR
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Adams, John L., 88, 12/13/2006
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