Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Military Ministry in New York

I recently received the following e-mail from Rev Betsy Spaulding:
I have been the Consulting Minister at All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church in Watertown NY which is very close to Fort Drum, for the past two years. I see an opportumity for lots of ministry with the soldiers and families at Fort Drum. We have had several soldiers and a couple of families associated with the congregation over the years. I like to have posted materials that help folks connect with uumil etc. The head Chaplain at Fort Drum welcomed the local clergy to a conference at the base chapel last winter and he seemed open and encouraging of local congregation's serving Ft.Drum people and even holding some events on base (subject to conditions. Drum is home to some 1900 troops and population is growing ... My instinct says there is much ministry to do---but resources from here are "otherwise" being used....Bottom line....I'm wondering if there is a brochure like the one for General Assembly for example, that could be used here at the church or even sent to the Base chapel for display/distribution??? (on a larger scale is there any movement afoot to serve the UUmils in some other way --by grant or financial campaign among the congregations, etc..?...)I'm sure there is work like this going on throughout our congregations - especially in areas near large military bases - but how can it be coordinated? What kind of support is available?
I think we need a UUA affiliated organization for military UUs - a clearing house for resources and a body to sponsor ongoing GA programming. There is an organization for military UUs - UU Military Ministries - but it doesn't seem to be going anywhere. How do we revitalize it? Who's in charge of it? I think awareness of military UU issues is high in some congregations, but lacking in most. My dream is to raise the level of awareness in ALL our congregations, so those of us in uniform are understood and accepted as people, not questioned because of what we do for a paycheck.

2 comments:

David Pyle said...

I agree completely... and all I can say is "Hold on, reinforcements are coming."

My name is David Pyle, and I am an incoming student at the Meadville Lombard Theological School. I am currently the Fellowship Administrator of the UU Fellowship of Galveston County... and I once was Sergeant David Pyle, 7th Special Forces Group, (Airborne) U.S. Army.

It is my goal to become a UU Military Chaplain in the US Army.

There is indeed a great need for us to minister to Military members, families, and even the families of DOD employees.

Someone asked me not to long ago how a UU could choose to serve in the military. My response was that if the military does not show UU Ideals, that is our fault for not having a presence there.

There are two incoming students at Meadville Lombard who intend to become Military Chaplains. We are formulating a plan that will create a program, similar to the current "Welcoming Congregation" program, that will help congregations learn how to reach out to and support those military members, families, and spouses in their congregations and their communities.

We are in the early stages of this process, but in the next few years will be looking for some congregations to participate in a pilot program.

There is much work that needs to be done in this field. We have ignored it too long. There has never been a time when the light of liberal religion was needed in our military more than it is today.

If you have suggestions, or would like to help us in this effort, please contact me at dpyle@meadville.edu . You can also checkout the website set up by Eric Johnson, www.uumm.org .

Yours in faith,

David Pyle
Fellowship Administrator
UU Fellowship of Galveston County

Greg said...

David, thanks for your comment and your interest. I'm glad to hear that there are more UU chaplains "in the pipeline" - we certainly need them. Best wishes in your studies and in your UU military project.