News: Navy, religious personnel gather for Chaplain’s Convention
Story by Lance Cpl. Justin Rodriguez
MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. - Nearly 100 Chaplains and religious program specialists stationed throughout the nation gathered for the Chaplain’s Convention aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, Feb. 11 to 13.
The convention serves as a training opportunity for chaplains and religious program specialists to gain more knowledge regarding sexual assault, a growing problem in the military.
The role of chaplains involved in assisting a sexual assault victim revolves around support and confidentiality for the victim. Chaplains and religious program specialists are trained as a whole so they understand the importance of confidentiality and total support, said Navy Lt. Cmdr. David Cullen, the deputy director of professional development at the Naval Chaplaincy School and Center.
“The more people that understand our role, the more people will approach chaplains and ask for help,” said Cullen. “We need to be prepared to offer the best pastoral care we can.”
The chaplains and religious program specialists participating in the convention were happy to receive the training and enjoyed participating in it.
“I’m very thankful for the training opportunity we’ve been given,” said Navy Lt. Charles Noles, a chaplain aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Johnson. “It’s been very useful in giving us the proper tools we need to respond as chaplains. The topic of sexual assault is a high visibility topic and it’s happening more. Part of the training is awareness about the issue and aspects involved, but dialect between all of us is a way for us to share experiences and advice on the topic.”
The convention featured sexual assault prevention and response briefing and featured known professors and subject matter experts on the subject.
“I am a subject matter expert working with Navy and Coast Guard chaplains on the work they do in the matter of sexual assault,” said Kristin Leslie, the professor of Pastoral Theology and Care at the Eden Theological Seminary. “I am honored to be here. The chaplains stand in this incredibly important place. They are making sure survivors get through any hard time. When they ensure a healthy unit, they get the mission done. I feel like I’m playing a part in serving the mission well.”