The following post comes from CBF-endorsed chaplain Lieutenant Commander Alan Rogers who serves on active-duty as a Group Chaplain with the Third Marine Air Wing at Miramar, Calif. In October 2013, he reports as Command Chaplain of Wounded Warrior Battalion West at Camp Pendleton, Calif., providing support to wounded, ill, and injured Marines throughout the western continental U.S. as well as Hawaii and Okinawa.
Also contributing to this post is Ensign Sarah Rogers Greenfield, U.S. Navy Chaplain Candidate Program Officer, who is completing her Master of Divinity at Logsdon Seminary, Hardin-Simmons University, while serving as Associate Pastor for Students at First Baptist Church, Abilene, Texas. She and her husband, Blake, anticipate entry to active-duty upon her completion of seminary studies.
As a CBF-endorsed Chaplain of the United States Marines, I have offered pastoral care from training grounds in California and Hawaii to deployment sites in Japan, Africa and the Middle East. I have been humbled by the task of bringing and being the presence of Christ through combat ministry in Iraq and Afghanistan. These experiences were deepened by the service and sacrifices of my oldest son, a Marine non-commissioned officer. Only 12 years-old on September 11, 2001, he is now a veteran of multiple combat deployments. My pastoral and parental roles are often closely intertwined. In both capacities, I teach and mentor, occasionally offer correction, regularly stay up late praying they make it home safely, and always love. There is, perhaps, no more memorable combination of these sacred roles than this past Christmas Day in San Francisco when I commissioned my oldest daughter, Sarah, a Naval Officer and CBF-endorsed candidate in the Navy Chaplain Corps.
My pathway of discerning my call to ministry has been incredibly challenging, fulfilling and life-changing. My commissioning has been the most meaningful event on my journey as a minister thus far. As I raised my right hand and repeated my Oath of Office, both the responsibility and privilege became extraordinarily real. My passion to support the military comes from a deep respect for the sacrifices of many men and women, past and present, but most especially from those in my own family. Living on two Marine Corps bases during my childhood instilled in me an understanding and appreciation of what is required from these families. We lost our next-door neighbor in the war; I prayed for my Dad and brother as they deployed in harm’s way. Naval Chaplaincy uniquely represents my call to a ministry of presence with my desire to serve Marines, Sailors and their families.
It was an incredible honor to have my Dad commission me on Christmas morning in the library of the Marine Memorial Hotel in San Francisco. The Oath was solemn, but the ceremony was also a celebration of the birth of Christ and the newness of God’s presence so evident to us with the beginning of my service as a Naval Officer. In addition to the significance of the event itself, both the city and hotel are also such special places for each of us. My Dad often brought us here as children when our family was stationed in southern California. We share a love for exploring the city, especially the food. I went to my first formal dance in the ballroom of the hotel. When I left home in Hawaii for college in Texas, we agreed to meet there every spring break during my undergraduate years, a feat we amazingly accomplished between my commitments and his.
Surrounded by paintings, sculptures and memorabilia dating to 1775, the sweetness of the moment was felt in the warmth of a nearby fireplace. The library sits one floor above the historic hotel’s memorial tribute wall, and we paused there to pray on our way to her commissioning. Individual tiles representing Americans from every branch of the military who have given their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan line the corridors. Ten of these symbolize Marines and Sailors of the Third Battalion, Fourth Marines, whom we also consider family.
It is difficult to describe the range of emotion I experienced that morning. So proud of the Godly lady, capable minister and servant-leader that stood before me, I also saw my little girl realizing and following her unlimited potential as she seeks God’s heart. In turn, Sarah was proud of me for administering her Oath of Office without prolonged pauses for emotion and fatherly reflection.
Perhaps she expected the same fortitude six months later when she trusted me with her wedding vows. Neither of us fared as well then, however, and proved there is indeed crying at appropriate times in the Marine Corps, at least from Chaplains.
As a CBF Chaplain, I have enjoyed the continuous support of my endorsing body and the camaraderie of my fellow servants. I regularly benefit from the wise counsel and trusted mentorship of CBF senior Navy Chaplains who invest time and energy to guide me through pivotal times in my ministry and career, and who have also provided love and encouragement in the midst of tragic and trying times in my life and family. As Sarah looks forward to an exciting future as a CBF-endorsed Navy Chaplain, I anticipate she will also share in this experience of community, as together we serve the cause of Christ by feeding His sheep.