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Imagine being an observer of SINKEX 2016. A SINKEX is a Navy exercise in which a ship is deliberately sunk by being subjected to missiles and bombs until it slips beneath the waves to the bottom of the sea. SINKEX 2016 took place 117 nautical miles north of Guam on Sept. 13, 2016. The targeted ship sank after five hours and 22 missile hits. The vessel subjected to this tortuous end was the decommissioned USS Rentz.
The Rev. Buddy Monahan, pastor of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Odessa, Texas, and corresponding member of the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board as chair of the Advocacy Committee for Racial Ethnic Concerns (ACREC), died March 27 in Odessa from injuries sustained in an automobile accident. He was 52.
When I retired from teaching in an inner city high school in Fresno I thought I was done with being involved with the local school district. Twenty-one years as a teacher was enough for me. My retirement plan was to move to San Francisco and get a job with a nonprofit.
When the Rev. Terilyn Lawson was installed on Sunday, October 23, as associate pastor of First Presbyterian Church, Great Falls, Montana—and concurrently as the first resident in the Chaplain Candidate Residency Program newly launched by the Presbyterian Council for Chaplains and Military Personnel (PCCMP)—she had to marvel at what God had done.
For the Rev. Howard Dotson, the decision to become a chaplain and crime victims’ advocate began when two young men he was talking with were gunned down within a half hour of his meeting. The two were on a street corner raising money for a friend that had been shot and killed two days before.
Within a few days of my son’s death by suicide, a chaplain said to me, “You can’t stop people. If they are determined to end their lives, they will.” I could not fathom how that might be comforting news, but I was too numb to respond. Since that week, I have heard the same thing countless times.
The Rev. Lawrence “Larry” DeLong, senior pastor/head of staff at Valley Presbyterian Church in Green Valley, Arizona, died on Aug. 26 of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
A common religious conceit is that people turn to prayer only in times of difficulty and despair. In my time as a hospice chaplain, I have found that idea to be untrue. Often pain and grief seem to stifle one’s ability to connect with God in prayer. Prayer can seem both insufficient and overwhelming when trauma has pierced the soul. I am often called in to assist people in these times of spiritual disconnect.
The Lord’s Day
“So, what exactly does a chaplain do?”
It’s a question I’m often asked when I tell people that I’m a college chaplain. I don’t really have “typical” days. Like most pastors, chaplains do a little of everything. We put together programs, organize and lead worship (weddings and memorials included) and counsel students.