Getting the Military on your Ministry Radar


“I joined because I grew up in the military. I joined because of family tradition. I joined so I could see the world. I joined because of the educational benefits.”


These are some of the many reasons heard from Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines throughout history as to why they are members of the Armed Services. The all-volunteer force demonstrates the patriotism and devotion of “Duty, Honor, Country” espoused by the military, and a foundation on which our country was built.


The military lifestyle is of course not for everyone. It has its own rules, its own physical and educational requirements, and certainly its own language. Some do an initial tour, and then separate; others commit their whole career to the military. Others serve on active duty for a time, get out, and then join the Reserve or National Guard component as a “part-time” soldier.


Many pastors, if asked “Are there military members in your church?” would reply, “No.” They answer that way because most think in terms of active duty personnel. Members of the Guard and Reserve are “invisible” because most of them are gone one weekend a month and two weeks in the summer. In fact, many pastors have deacons or Sunday School teachers who are absent more than that playing golf on Sundays! Guardsmen and Reservists simply don’t show up on the pastoral radar!


However, increasing frequency and duration of deployments, especially when the dependent family members are geographically separated from available services, is creating crises. Dependent families who are distant from services (medical, dental, etc.) are uncertain how to navigate the maze of available resources to obtain help.


A September 2003 General Accounting Office Report found that on average Guardsmen and Reservists drive over 400 miles to participate with their drilling unit. Often this is nothing more than an armory, and when the entire unit is deployed there is no one there to field inquiries from dependent family members. This report also found that although the deploying service member was briefed on available services for dependents, this information is not getting passed on to family members in an effective manner.


Those who live near military installations need to be attuned to the Reservists and Guardsmen who will be coming into your areas to serve. They need ministry in many forms. Many of them are separated from their families. Many of them have been deeply involved in their churches. If you do not live near a military installation, be alert to Guard and Reserve members and their families in your community. Reach out to them – they need your ministry.


In your congregation or parish, you may know some veterans, as well as current military personnel and their families. There are other military members who may have never mentioned it to you . . . until now. As the number of deployments expands, “business as usual” is no longer an option for our military members. More frequent deployments and longer periods of time away from home and family will be the pattern for the next few years.

To develop a portfolio of resources to help pastors and other key church leaders minister to the military, a team of people met regularly for several months at the Virginia Baptist Resource Center to pray, share ideas, and identify and compile resources to help you in your ministry. The members of the team were:


Ch. (Col.) Jack Marcom, Pastor of the Friendship Baptist Church in Fredericksburg, and a retired Army chaplain. He formerly served as chairman of the SBC Chaplain’s Commission, and is currently National President of the Reserve Officers Association.

Ch. (Col.) Tim Leever, currently serves as Pastor of Faith Alliance Church in Goldsboro, North Carolina, and is the Virginia State National Guard Chaplain.

Ch. (Colonel) Richard Poindexter serves as the Directorate of Ministry Initiatives, in the Chief of Chaplain’s Office, United States Army.

Ch. (Lt Col) Lee Allen is a retired Army chaplain, and currently serves as the Chaplain Liaison with Military Ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ, Newport News.

Ch. (Col) Johnny Almond is Pastor of the Colonial Beach Baptist Church in Colonial Beach, Virginia, and is the Military Ministry Specialist, Glocal Missions and Evangelism Team, Virginia Baptist Mission Board. He is a retired Air Force Chaplain.

Ch (Lt Colonel) Ronald Thomas is the Family Ministry Officer, Chief of Chaplain’s Office, United States Army.

Mrs. Glenda Poindexter is the wife of Chaplain Poindexter.

MSG Horace Clarke serves as Chaplain’s Assistant to Chaplain Leever.

Mrs. Kay Baber is the State Volunteer Coordinator, Family Program Office, Virginia National Guard at Ft. Pickett.

Ms. Donna Mattson works in Richmond as the Family Program Coordinator for the US Army Reserve.

Ch (Capt) Byron Collins is Chaplain for Task Force 218, Region 5, 1st Battalion, 111th Field Artillery at Ft. Eustis

Ch. (Lt Col) Rob Edwards served as Region Chaplain, Middle East Region, U.S. Air Force Auxiliary Civil Air Patrol.

MSG Billy Beebee serves as a Chaplain’s Assistant in the U.S. Army, and is stationed at Ft. Eustis.

Mrs. Jean Dart, serves as an communication specialist with the Glocal Missions and Evangelism Team at the Virginia Baptist Mission Board.


As a pastor, family members will look to you for emotional and spiritual support as they cope with separation under stressful conditions. It is our goal to assist you in becoming more familiar with agencies in the community (both civilian and military) and how they can work with you to ease the uncertainty felt by the family. Reserve and National Guard personnel of all branches of the military are being affected especially hard with deployments, which previously have been infrequent and of short duration. Providing you with the tools necessary to provide direction will be essential to assisting families as they become self-reliant during times of military separation.


Please take some time to become familiar with military terminology and other assets we have provided for you. For more information, assistance, or to schedule a workshop or training session in your church or area, please contact Johnny Almond, Military Ministry Specialist, at 800-255-2428, extension 7214 or We look forward to hearing from you and providing assistance to you as you minister to our service members.


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