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    U.S. Navy Chaplains in Singapore Reflect on Service, 240 year Heritage of Chaplain Corps



    Courtesy Story

    Commander, Logistics Group Western Pacific

    SINGAPORE - U.S. Navy Chaplains assigned to Singapore honored the 240th anniversary of the Chaplain Corps by reflecting on their heritage and service to Sailors and Marines stationed across the globe. The Navy Chaplain Corps was established on Nov. 28, 1775.

    Lt. Russ Ferguson, chaplain for Commander, Logistics Group Western Pacific (COMLOG WESTPAC), and Lt. Cmdr. Glen Kitzman, chaplain for Military Sealift Command - Far East (MSC-FE), provide a variety of pastoral services and counseling for Sailors, Civilian-Mariners and their families assigned to Singapore as well service members assigned to 7th Fleet ships that operate in the region.

    “The Chaplain Corps has been an integral part of our Navy for more than 240 years, deploying across the globe beside our Sailors and Marines,” said Ferguson. “Our model isn’t just to stay ashore and let the Sailors find us. It’s to be there with the Sailors and Marines as much as possible so they don’t need to seek us out. We’re there for them to help support them.”

    The first chaplain known to serve in the Continental Navy was the Reverend Benjamin Balch. Since then, thousands of chaplains have entered Naval service with the intent of helping Sailors and Marines in a variety of ways from spiritual support, counseling, to just being a friend in a time of need.

    When the second article of the Navy Regulations was ratified on Nov. 28 1775 it stated, "the Commanders of the ships of the thirteen United Colonies are to take care that Divine Services be performed twice a day on board and a sermon preached on Sundays, unless bad weather or other extraordinary accidents prevent."

    This article was the beginning of the Navy Chaplain Corps, but their role has expanded throughout the years.

    Command chaplains in overseas locations like Singapore also play a critical role in organizing Community Relations (COMREL) projects. Ferguson said COMREL engagements help develop well-rounded service members, and he believes volunteering provides Sailors and Marines a great opportunity to connect with the local community and learn about the culture.

    “COMREL activities help our Sailors explore the area and they give back to the community where they live,” Ferguson said. “I think Sailors make it a priority to volunteer here in Singapore because they want to give back to others and make their communities stronger.”

    For Kitzman, being a chaplain is about building a strong foundation for the present and future Navy and Marine Corps. When Kitzman attended his son’s graduation at the U.S. Marine Corps Recruit Training in late September, it gave him a chance to see the future of the service and renewed his mission as a Chaplain for assisting young service members.

    “Seeing the level of young professionals we are getting into the service today is very encouraging,” said Kitzman. “I love being a Chaplain and I love what it stands for. We routinely have service members from all branches search us out. They have very diverse backgrounds including those with no religious affiliation. They just want to talk and we’re here for them.”

    Kitzman said today’s military provides many opportunities to make a difference in the lives of service members, just as it did 240 years ago with the first Navy chaplain.

    “I don’t think there’s ever been a more interesting time to be a chaplain in our Navy’s history than it is today,” said Kitzman. “We have the professional skills and the tools to be a part of any command, shore or sea. Wherever our Sailors are, we’ll always be there to help them physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually just as we’ve always been.”

    The Chaplain Corps ultimately adds value by being where it matters, to assist Sailors, Navy Civilians and their families in times of need, according to Ferguson.

    “The Chaplain’s mission has always been about being where it matters, when it matters, doing what matters for our people. For 240 years Chaplains have been honoring that mission and we hope to do it for another 240 years, and counting.”

    COMLOG WESTPAC and the Military Sealift Command Far East are the U.S. 7th Fleet's provider of combat-ready distributed -logistics, operating government-owned and contracted ships to keep units throughout 7th Fleet armed, fueled, and fed. Additionally, Task Force 73 is the 7th Fleet's Theater Security Cooperation agent for South and Southeast Asia.



    Date Taken: 12.07.2015
    Date Posted: 12.07.2015 01:31
    Story ID: 183648
    Location: SG

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