Armed Forces Chaplaincy
By Rev (Maj) Chris Withers Army Chaplain to 6 Regt Royal Logistics Corps, North Yorkshire.
In our next Chaplaincy profile, we hear from Rev (Maj) Chris Withers as he shares about his role and ministry as an Army Chaplain.
Unlike any other form of Chaplaincy, the thing that most marks out Forces Chaplaincy is the amount of time we spend with our flock, our troops.
We work alongside them fifty to sixty hours per week, are accommodated with them, eat with them, train with them. We go where they go, whether on exercise (i.e. playing war games) or in overseas conflict situations. We face the pressures they face, whether enduring hard physical training, experiencing conflict and its harsh realities, separation from loved ones for months on end, and postings which often take us away from our home churches as well as our own family.
Incidentally we don’t choose where we serve, we get posted wherever the need is the greatest serving a unit usually for a three year posting.
There is no doubt there has to be a clear sense of God’s calling in such ministry and praise God for the incredible Kingdom opportunities that come in the midst.
The shape of our ministry is spiritual, moral and pastoral, perhaps no different to any Christian ministry. Assisting in the exploration of faith, supporting those of other faiths and or no faith. Sometimes we conduct Remembrance Day services or other church services.
We seek to give moral guidance for the chain of command and the soldiers e.g. teaching on character development, promoting the Army’s core values of selfless commitment, respect for others, loyalty, integrity, discipline, courage to do the right thing.
We pastorally care for our soldiers and their dependants. Leading presentations to all ranks on subjects such as resilience, mental health and wellbeing, dealing with death, which often lead to opportunities to reflect on spirituality.
In summary we serve and support, men and women who have chosen to serve their fellowman as peacemakers, to go where ever they are needed on mercy missions or confronting oppression, injustice and terrorism so that most don’t have to.
What an incredible privilege it is as a Forces Chaplain to be Christ’s ambassador to them.