Chaplain (Capt.) Linda Murtala, 1st Battalion, 61st Infantry Battalion chaplain, gives a service to unit trainees. The trainees were separated enough to follow social distancing guidelines. (Photo by Tory Evans)
By Leslie Ann "LA" Sully Fort Jackson Public Affairs
Chaplains across the brigades are creating new ways to deliver their messages while maintaining the safety and health of everyone. Although regular in-person services at chapels have been temporarily discontinued, chaplains are still creatively reaching the religious needs of those they serve. Social distancing has added the restriction of not having platoons cross into other platoon areas which are making it harder to host services.
“The goal is to meet the diverse religious needs of our Soldiers in order to increase spiritual fitness and enhance readiness,” said Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Rodie Lamb, deputy garrison chaplain.
“I hosted an outdoor ‘drive-in’ style general Protestant service on Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday,” said Chaplain (Capt.) Deborah Frick, chaplain for 1st Battalion, 34th Infantry Regiment. “I used the tailgate of a truck as my venue and had the trainees sit together as a platoon while using social distancing techniques.”
Other avenues of approach, which meet social distancing guidelines, include using the intercom systems in unit areas for devotionals, sending devotionals and video messages to cadre members via email for trainees in classrooms. Chaplains post many devotions online to their personal social media platforms and are shared on the Fort Jackson Religious Support Office Facebook page.
“So far it’s been working out really well,” said Chaplain (Capt.) Christopher Rice about making videos for 2nd Battalion, 60th Infantry Regiment. “It gives me a chance to be more personable for my trainees and helps me deliver a more consistent message for each week. We are going through this just like they are and we are taking precautions just like they are, hence the video services.”
Each chaplain has created various ways to continue to be available to trainees and cadre alike. Some even visit trainees in quarantine to ensure their religious needs are met as well as looking after their wellbeing.
“We also follow up with phone calls for support and inspiration,” Lamb said.
As the battle against the virus continues, chaplains remain vigilant in their missions to promote spiritual growth and support through any creative means they can.
“As we face this invisible enemy, let us walk by faith and not by fear,” Lamb said quoting Psalms 46: 1-2. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear.”