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Today in the Mission Yearbook

Minute for Mission: Chaplains Sunday

Navy Chaplain Corps offers retreat program for survivors of sexual assault

February 4, 2018

6,172 cases of sexual assault were reported in the Department of Defense in 2016, a slight increase over 2015 and a sharp jump from 2012, when 3,604 cases were reported. This sharp increase likely stems as much from an increased willingness to report as it does from an increase in assaults. Six out of 10 survivors reported retaliation for having reported.

These are not just numbers on a page but lives that have been changed forever. As the Department of Defense seeks to comprehend the scope of this scourge, military chaplains have implemented one step forward for the victims.

A sign at Denim Day at Naval Support Activity Bethesda, a U.S. Army-led program focused on sexual assault prevention. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class William Phillips/Released)

The Navy chief of chaplains, Rear Admiral Margaret Kibben — a teaching elder of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) — directed her chaplains to design a new retreat program for survivors of sexual assault. This opportunity is now available in 11 regions around the world.

The program incorporates counseling, prayer and meditation as well as technology in helping survivors move toward hope as they navigate the road to recovery. Being chaplain-led, each participant is assured of confidential communication to ensure no reprisals for their openness to healing. The retreat permits victims to express their experience through private means and then offers an eight-week follow-up regimen to provide more encouragement.

Chaplain Jennifer Bowden, a facilitator of the retreat, says, “Hope takes us out of our experience and on the path to healing.”

In Isaiah 40 the prophet asks, “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. … He gives power to the faint, and strengthens the powerless.” We give thanks for our ministers who serve as chaplains in the military. They come alongside those who are faint and powerless, and are used by God to bring hope and strength.

Capt. Lyman M. Smith (U.S. Navy, Retired)
Director, Presbyterian Council for Chaplains and Military Personnel, Washington, D.C.

Today’s Focus:  Presbyterian Council for Chaplains and Military Personnel, Washington, D.C.

Let us join in prayer for:

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff

Alicia Demartra-Pressley, PMA
Sheldon Dennis, BOP

Let us pray:

God, thank you for giving us hope that we can run and not grow weary and walk and not grow faint. We ask your healing mercy for victims of sexual trauma and their loved ones. We also thank you for your chaplains and lift them to you for encouragement and stamina as they bring your peace in the midst of chaos. Amen.

Revised Common Lectionary Readings for Sunday, February 4, 2018, the Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B)

First Reading Isaiah 40:21-31
Psalm 147:1-11, 20c
Second Reading 1 Corinthians 9:16-23
Gospel Mark 1:29-39