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Queens Chronicle

Religious guidance, moral support and more roles filled by Navy Chaplain Corps

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Posted: Tuesday, July 22, 2014 1:00 am | Updated: 4:36 am, Tue Jul 29, 2014.

(BPT) - When serving domestically and overseas, Sailors are away from home, family, familiar settings and traditions. Many use their beliefs and faith to help them understand and manage the unfamiliar surroundings they’re experiencing. Guidance, moral support and worship opportunities are critical services provided by the Navy to help Sailors through the challenges of the job while maintaining relationships with family and fellow military members.

Navy Chaplains and Religious Program Specialists from the Religious Ministry Team are available to meet the religious needs of Sailors and Marines and Coast Guardsmen. The Navy Chaplain Corps consists of more than 800 Navy Chaplains and represents over 100 different faith groups. All Chaplains are Navy Officers, meaning each holds an important leadership role practicing ministry and providing faith leadership, as well as personal advice in a ministry that is run 24/7. Chaplains live, work, eat and pray with their fellow shipmates and understand their needs and challenges like no one else.  

Religious support has been provided to military members since before the 13 colonies declared independence from Britain. In 1775, the Continental Congress recognized the importance of religion for Sailors and required services to be held on Continental Congress ships. Later, during World War II, large numbers of civilian clergy stepped forward and enlisted to meet the religious needs of millions serving in the United States Navy. Today, the Navy’s Chaplain Corps consists of active duty and Reserve Chaplains who tend to the spiritual and emotional needs of all military members and their families.

Navy Chaplains are in high demand, and a religious counsel career can be especially rewarding in the military. Whether conducting worship ceremonies on a ship at sea or assisting clergy with religious activities on a base, these men and women are in a unique position to serve their country and fellow service members.

Navy Chaplains have more time to:

* Conduct worship services in a variety of settings

* Perform religious rites and ceremonies such as weddings, funerals and baptisms

* Counsel those who seek guidance

* Oversee religious education programs

* Provide spiritual guidance and care to hospitalized personnel and their families

* Train lay leaders

* Advise leaders at all levels regarding morale, ethics and spiritual well-being

In addition to providing religious ministry for overall faith and facilitating all religious requirements for those of different faiths, Chaplains also advise the command to ensure the free exercise of religion.

To train for the Navy Chaplain Corps, five weeks of training at Officer Development School are held in Newport, R.I., followed by seven weeks of Naval Chaplaincy School in Ft. Jackson, S.C. Continued educational opportunities are available through the funded Chaplain Corps Advanced Education Program, and clinical pastoral educational programs are also held. Any student in the process of earning a graduate theological degree could potentially enter the Navy Chaplain Candidate Program as a student.

Visit navy.com to learn more about Chaplain career opportunities and the background required to answer this exciting and important call to serve.

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