The morning started with prayer and introductions. Navy Reserve chaplain Bill Gasser led the morning’s training and facilitated discussion among the group. The training focused in particular on what our military chaplains can do to better prepare for their own deployments.
Included in the discussion were some of the unique challenges of being a chaplain and the how chaplaincy deployment differs from traditional church ministry. Gasser stressed the importance of chaplains taking care of themselves so that they can better minister to deployed members.
Also discussed were the challenges of being separated from family and how to take care of the home front while away. Cross-talk among the chaplains highlighted the stress of increased deployments and longer separations and the resulting pressures on their families. From prayer to regular contact through emails, phone calls, and letter-writing, strong communication is key.
Finally, there was a discussion on coming home after a deployment. Setting realistic expectations are critical to ensuring a smooth transition back to normal home life.
Many of the chaplains shared their personal experiences and what they did to overcome the unique challenges to deployments. Common along all the chaplains, however, was a recognition that the chaplaincy ministry is truly a gift from God. As chaplains, they are in the unique position of representing Christ in very non-traditional settings. Whether serving as military, institutional, or community service chaplains, theirs is a special calling.