Palm Sunday in a Military Prison

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“Inmates continue to realize their need to become more devoted followers of Jesus Christ. I baptized five inmates during our Palm Sunday Protestant Service on 20 March 2016. I have baptized a total of 29 inmates in the past nine months at the USDB (US Disciplinary Barracks).” So reports CBAmerica endorsed Chaplain, Lieutenant Colonel, Mark Mitera, Director of Pastoral Care, and Senior Army Corrections Command Chaplain in the Military Correctional Complex at the US Disciplinary Barracks, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Typically known as “Leavenworth,” some notable prison inmates past and present include WW2 POWs, William Calley, Nidal Hasan, and Bradley “Chelsea” Manning.

The USDB motto, “Our Mission, Your Future,” symbolizes the “Can Do” attitude; the spirit of teamwork; and the philosophy of the USDB. The entire custodial staff provides individual treatment to inmates to prepare them for a self-reliant, trustworthy and respectable future. The USDB reflects on the past only to build for the future, emphasizing behavior, education, vocational skills and a chance to choose. The staff balances their critical duty to incarcerate, ensure good order and discipline, and to maintain a safe environment, with providing an opportunity for rehabilitation, hope, and a new start.2

Chaplain Mark asks prayer for the following:

  1. That both inmates and staff would come to know Christ and have their lives transformed at both of our prisons (Medium and Maximum Security) at Fort Leavenworth.
  2. That our chaplains would remain faithful in preaching the Gospel and reaching out to the lost.

4In a companion email Mark shared details about his pending retirement from the Army chaplaincy the end of this year. “I’ve certainly enjoyed my years of service as an Army chaplain, and concluding my ministry at the USDB has been a real blessing…and definitely one of my best assignments. Being directly involved with people ministry and pastoral care to inmates has been very refreshing after having spent my two previous assignments doing mostly administration and personnel management.  Plus, the USDB chapel has become one of my favorite places to preach due to the enthusiastic response of the inmates.  This has been a good way to end my military career.”

3Mark adds in his recent report, “Please pray for us as we go through this time of transition.” I ask you to do just that.  Mark plans to move back home to Ohio, complete some more post-graduate education and pursue ministry in the hospital/hospice setting.  He’s also open to providing pulpit supply in the surrounding area.

I affirmed Mark’s “post-military” plans for continued ministry. After “much prayer and consideration,” he and his wife, Annette, have set their sights on a new ministry vision for the next phase of life.  Join me in thanking God for one “well-done” ministry career in chaplaincy, and asking the Lord to guide their steps into the next phase of ministry.  While you’re at it, reply to this blog post with a note of appreciation and congratulation, as Mark retires the end of November.

If you or someone you know is interested in chaplaincy ministry in its many forms (federal and civilian, prison, police, fire, hospital, hospice, retirement homes, rescue mission, motor sports and clubs, Veterans and Wounded Warrior), contact me at the email below or check out our webpage at www.cbamerica.org/chaplaincy for more stories and info.

Respectfully Submitted,

Andy Meverden Chaplain, Colonel, Retired Director of Chaplaincy CBAmerica.org Email: chapandy@cbamerica.org

Final Meeting: We’re NOT going to apologize!

Mag Article

“On December 14, 2002, four Afghan teenage boys were accidentally killed and one seriously injured in the first live-fire exercise conducted with a battalion of the New Afghan Army. The unit was being trained by US Special Forces (The Green Beret). The incident occurred after a group of ten local schoolboys from the nearby village of Polycharky were chased from the area where the military exercise was to be held… Despite the heroics of the many medics on site and immediately called to the scene; by day’s end, four boys were dead and one seriously injured but expected to recover. Read more…

 

3 Myths of the 501(c)(3)

A recent article in Church Executive was titled “3 myths of the 501(c)(3): When misunderstandings lead to misguidance”. The three myths discussed in the article are:

  • Misconception #1:      Obtaining 501(c)(3) approval means my church will be a ‘state controlled church’; therefore, the government can tell me what to preach.
  • Misconception #2:      Obtaining 501(c)(3) approval would subject my church to participate in activities it does not condone.
  • Misconception #3:      Obtaining 501(c)(3) approval is not required.

Each week CBAmerica is contacted by churches seeking verification of their 501(c)(3) status under the CBAmerica Group Exemption Number 1719. A church is covered by the CBAmerica Group Exemption if the church is in good standing with their region, has its own Employer Identification Number (EIN) and is included in the CBAmerica Database of active churches.

If you church desires a letter of verification of their coverage under CBAmerica’s Group Exemption for the current year please submit the following completed FORM.

The Pacific Church Network and Next Generation Churches are covered by their regions Group Exemption. Please contact your regional office to receive verification of your status under their Group Exemption.

Global Leadership Summit

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The Global Leadership Summit is a two-day event telecast LIVE in HD from Willow’s campus near Chicago every August to hundreds of locations in North America. This year the Summit will take place Thursday-Friday, August 11-12, 2016.

You are invited to join an expected 305,000 people committed to getting better as leaders in 2016. Throughout the fall, Summit events take place at an additional 675+ sites in 125 countries and 59 languages.

CBAmerica and its regions can take advantage of a significant discount:

$139/Registration (good at all satellite Summit locations)

Priority Code:  TGLS16CRFT

More Information and to Register:  www.willowcreek.com/summit

 

No Ordinary Joe: WW2 Hero Laid to Rest

As a retired Army chaplain, I continue to serve our Veteran community. Occasionally called on to visit the sick and dying, I have opportunities to honor the failing and the fallen.  On December 2nd, seven hours before he breathed his last, I read Luke’s account of the Crucifixion (Hill #1) and prayed my last prayer with Private George “Joe” Taro Sakato, WW2 Veteran, and recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor (CMOH) in his Denver home.

Born in February of 1921 in California of Japanese immigrant parents, “Joe” first tried to enlist in the Army Air Corps in 1943 after the outbreak of WW2. He and many other “Americans of Japanese Ancestry” (dubbed “AJAs” by the US War Department) initially were rejected by local draft boards, and classified, “4C” (Enemy Alien – “Nisei”).  On the Nisei Monument in Denver’s historic Fairmont Cemetery’s Veteran Section, where Joe now rests, it reads:

joe“Deeply aware the cloud of suspicion hanging over them in the early days of WW2 could be dispersed only by a demonstration of loyalty, Americans of Japanese descent (Nisei) petitioned in 1942 for the right to serve their country. America offered them the opportunity, and the Nisei served with distinction and valor in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team in Europe, in military intelligence units in the Pacific, and elsewhere.  More than 30,000 Nisei bore arms in WW2 and Korea, shedding their blood on such far-flung battlefields as the Arno and Bruyeres, Guadalcanal, Myitkyin and Porkchop Hill.  It is to those who made the supreme sacrifice in demonstrating that Americanism is not a matter of Race or ancestry that this monument is dedicated.”

January 16 was a cold, clear Colorado morning when the funeral procession stepped off, led by a group of senior military officers, followed by a color guard. The 101st US Army Band of the Colorado Army National Guard slowly beat cadence in solemn military tradition.  Following were two marching platoons of infantry soldiers and cadets of the Civil Air Patrol; Infantry in honor of Joe’s service as an Army Infantryman, and aspiring Civil Air Patrol cadets in honor of Joe’s original desire to join the Army Air Corps.  Next in file was an open bed funeral carriage with flag-draped coffin, pulled by two massive, manicured draft horses.  Three steps behind walked two chaplains, both honored to walk this last mile with Joe.  Family in automobiles followed; with a third platoon of Infantryman serving as rear escort.

casketAfter the slow mile-long march, we assembled at the road nearest the gravesite. Sending the junior chaplain ahead to the grave, I oversaw the movement of our fallen hero.  Stepping ahead, I slowly led the casket bearers to the grave.

As I saluted the moving casket, I surveyed the setting; ensuring that everything and everyone was in place, according to time-honored military tradition.

Directing a last minute adjustment of people standing too far from the grave, I took a deep breath and began. “Good morning. My name is Chaplain Meverden, and I want to welcome you to Fairmont Cemetery… Today’s burial takes place in the shadow of the Nisei Monument, honoring the service and sacrifice of Americans of Japanese descent…Each and every one of these resting in this hallowed ground, hold something in common…when their nation called in a time of need, they raised their hands and said, ‘Send me!’  And such is the life and legacy of our brother, Private George Taro Sakato, we lay to rest today.”funeral

After Scripture readings from Ecclesiastes chapter 3, John chapter 14, and 2 Timothy 4:7-8 I said, “Let me encourage you: If George is in Christ, and Christ is in you, then George can’t be far.” I concluded with a prayer of committal and benediction.   The religious portion was complete.  Military honors followed.

I typically review the Veteran’s military service, gleaning coded information from aged discharge papers (DD214). For this preparation, I spent over fifteen hours, watching videos, reading transcripts of historical interviews, and reading history books.  Most importantly, I reviewed the notes I took over the last seven months of hospital and home visits I was honored to make with Joe.  I even memorized the information listed on the Medal of Honor coin Joe had given me.Andy

Joe was an unlikely Soldier. Initially unable to enlist in the Army Air Corps, a year later he was accepted, but sent to Camp Blanding, Florida for Army basic training.  Though taken by surprise, Joe knew he couldn’t turn back.  Weak and small in physical stature, he couldn’t complete all the stations of the Obstacle Course.  He didn’t pass weapons qualification.  How he would survive in the infantry, he didn’t know.  Assigned to the 442nd Regimental Combat team in Italy, he was moved to France.  After three months in combat, his unit was ordered to take Hill 617 outside Biffontaine, as part of an operation to rescue 200 Soldiers of the 141st Infantry Regiment trapped by the German army.  In the attack, he lost a close buddy which enraged him.  With a Thompson submachine gun, he charged up the hill, encouraging his squad and platoon to follow.

Medal of Honor Citation

Private George T. Sakato distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action on 29 October 1944, on hill 617 in the vicinity of Biffontaine, France. After his platoon had virtually destroyed two enemy defense lines, during which he personally killed five enemy soldiers and captured four, his unit was pinned down by heavy enemy fire. Disregarding the enemy fire, Private Sakato made a one-man rush that encouraged his platoon to charge and destroy the enemy strongpoint. While his platoon was reorganizing, he proved to be the inspiration of his squad in halting a counter-attack on the left flank during which his squad leader was killed. Taking charge of the squad, he continued his relentless tactics, using an enemy rifle and P-38 pistol to stop an organized enemy attack. During this entire action, he killed 12 and wounded two, personally captured four and assisted his platoon in taking 34 prisoners. By continuously ignoring enemy fire, and by his gallant courage and fighting spirit, he turned impending defeat into victory and helped his platoon complete its mission. Private Sakato’s extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit on him, his unit, and the United States Army.

Though meriting the Medal of Honor, anti-Japanese sentiment for this and other heroic actions taken by Joe and other members of the Nisei units, caused his award to be downgraded to the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC). Wounded soon after in further fighting, he was returned for medical treatment and convalescence in the US.  After discharge, he moved to Denver, Colorado, married, and eventually joined the US Postal Service from which he retired.

Joe1In June of 2000, after a review of many downgraded awards in the 442nd, Joe finally received his Medal of Honor in a White House Ceremony.

After I concluded my remarks, the rifle team fired three volleys, taps was played, and the US flag was folded. After the Adjutant General presented the US and Colorado flags to Joe’s daughter and other relatives, I stepped forward, recited a poem, “The Dash Between the Dates,” hugged each family member and walked away.  My mission was complete.

In one of Joe’s later recorded interviews he said: “We marched through Washington D.C to the White House. There President Truman said: ‘You fought two battles and won.  You beat the Germans, and you overcame discrimination.’”  Joe then chokes up, and finally says, “That was good.”

Following the burial, a 91 year-old fellow Soldier who was on the battlefield with Joe, said. “He wasn’t just any ordinary Joe!”

 

Respectfully submitted,

New Andy

Rev. Andy Meverden

Director of Chaplaincy Chaplain, Colonel, US Army, Retired “Chaplain for Life”

Invitation to CB Northwest Annual Enrichment Conference

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Dear Shepherds,

It is my privilege to facilitate the covenant community family during our Annual Enrichment Conference, March 7-9, 2016, at Seaside, Oregon. Our yearly family celebration has become known as an event that is spiritually transforming, relationally engaging, and strategically purposeful.

The theme of this year’s conference is ‘Movement’.  Bruce Shelley, in his book A History of Conservative Baptists wrote, “Conservatives rather proudly spoke of themselves as a movement.  They had high hopes of going somewhere…”  Our covenant community has banded together to actively pursue a common vision.

We envision a covenant community of churches committed to the glory of God, centered on the gospel, changing our communities by being doctrinally sound, missionally driven, and culturally sensitive – which includes culturally appropriate evangelism, leaders mentoring the next generation of leaders, and churches planting churches through Great Commandment love, Great Commission purpose, and Great Confession dependency.

God has been faithful to accomplish much through our churches, but He is not finished.  This year’s conference will address three barriers to our churches being on mission.  Those barriers are materialism, comfort, and fear.  Pastors from our churches will teach God’s Word as it relates to these barriers, and we will illustrate how God is moving our churches through each one.

This gathering will appeal to, and is open to, anyone who wants to see Gospel-centered churches multiplied. Our hope is to see pastors, potential church planters, elders, church leaders, and next generation pastors and their spouses from all over the Northwest participate in this effort to strengthen the covenant community of CB churches.  Remember, this is not just another “pastor’s conference”, this is a special gathering designed to keep us on our previously-agreed-upon mission to actively pursue covenant community, holding each other accountable to live out our doctrine, polity, and philosophy.

The trustees will be contacting you to let you know of any necessary planning or coordinating specific to your region. If you are unable to attend this special gathering for any reason, please let your trustee know.

Feel free to share this opportunity to build a stronger and healthier covenant community with anyone you feel would benefit from these three days together in March.

If you have questions about the conference or accommodations, see us online at: http://www.cbnw.org/events/aec/.  You may also contact Jeremy Schumacher at jeremys@cbnw.org. If you have any questions about registration, please contact Jennifer Bertz at 541-451-4270541-451-4270, x21 or jenniferb@cbnw.org.

Praying Always, Never Give Up!
Luke 18:1
Dr. Mark A. Hoeffner
Executive Director CB NorthwestCB Northwest

2016 CBAmerica Chaplaincy Video

Across America, and around the world, CBAmerica chaplains serve in a wide variety of ministries, Federal State, and Civilian.  90 chaplains serve in all branches of the US Military (Army, Navy, Marine, Coast Guard & Air Force) and its components (Active, Guard & Reserve); plus the Federal Bureau of Prisons and the Veterans Health Administration.  Another 50 serve in civilian chaplaincies in hospital, hospice, prison, law enforcement, fire, Veteran, and Wounded Warrior settings.  Another 20 seminarians are preparing themselves to enter one of these chaplaincy ministries.

Making Cents Out of Christmas

According to ShopperTrak, consumers spent an estimated $10.4 billion in stores on Black Friday and $1.8 billion on Thanksgiving.  There is more.  CNN just released figures that online sales on Cyber Monday most likely will reach $3 billion for the first time, making it the largest single day for digital sales in history.
Hearing the “good news” (my sarcasm) of historic sales, I wanted to scream, “What about Christmas?”  We all know when it comes to our society celebrating Christmas, it is not about the miracle of Christ’s birth.  In reality it comes down to whether or not the retailers can get out of the “red” and into the “black”.
It is no surprise to understand that Christmas is not defined by money or retail goals, but by the incredible miracle of Christ’s birth.  Christmas is much more than just the birth of a baby.  It is when God became a man.  The miracle we call the Incarnation.  How will this amazing truth change your life?
I am having the privilege of discipling a young Millennial right now.  He recently came out of church with us and said, “I just got kicked in the stomach!”  Curious about what he was processing, I asked for clarification.  It was quite simple really.  God spoke to him, he was under conviction and he needed to make some changes.  I love what I saw in this young disciple as he wrestled with life-changing truth.
Truth.  The Incarnation of Christ is the ultimate and final disclosure of the eternal God.  Can you grasp that?  It answers for us the mystery of who God is, what God is like, and what God wants.  The Incarnation is the self-revelation of God Himself, the pre-existent Son of God and the second person of the Trinity taking human form.  Jesus is the “fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9).  In the Incarnation, “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14 NKJV).  The Word here is the name of the Eternal God and the flesh is the designation of a time-bound human being in contrast to God.  God sent His Son born of a woman.  Yet the Word, who is God, continues to be what He was before becoming flesh (John 1:1).  Try to explain all that to the National Federation of Retailers.

I always like to ask the question after hearing something profound, “So what?  How does that impact my life?”   You know, there is a result to this incredible intervention of God into the world who was “made in human likeness” (Philippians 2:7).  First, the eternal love of God is revealed to the entire world in its fullest expression, so all that believe will have eternal life (John 3:16).  Second, He who shared of flesh and blood (Hebrews 2:14) causes those who believe to share in the same divine nature (2 Peter 1:4).  Third, Jesus who committed no sin was made sin that those who believe might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21).  Lastly, Jesus who came to reconcile the world unto Himself has given to those who believe the work of reconciliation to a lost world (2 Corinthians 5:19).

Pat Phinney
My prayer for us this Christmas is that our celebration would go far beyond traditional cultural symbols such as profit margins, decorative lights, festive parties and lavish gift-giving.  May your focus be upon the celebration of the “Gift of God” that is meant to provide eternal life for all who sincerely seek Him.  I enjoy the thought that the Eternal One loves this broken world more than I can even imagine.
I am so blessed to serve as your Regional Director for CB North Central.  Karen and I would like to wish you and your family a wonderful Christ-filled Christmas.  We look forward to serving you for years to come.
Pat Phinney
CBNC Regional Director

 

Holy Smoke, Batman!

HolyGreetings, from Bahrain!

Well, we have completed our first month of deployment here in Bahrain. For me it has been a slow start since I have to wait to learn the rhythm of the Squadron before I can adjust to serve the Marines and Sailors effectively and efficiently. We have been busy though setting up our office spaces and implementing our services of ministry opportunities and relationship building activities. I am not conducting any religious services during our time here because there is a Chaplain that is assigned to the base whose role is to provide services so we fall into his Sunday service as well as weekly Bible Studies.

I have started the Holy Smokes Fellowship which is a weekly cigar smoke to allow Marines to get away from the business of deployment and sit back, relax and enjoy time building relationships with other Marines and myself. We have a steady group of about seven Marines that are coming each week to that and we hope to continue to grow but are excited about the seven that are coming.

We have, in our office space, a care package corner where we have shelves full of hygiene, snacks and other entertainment items (books, magazines, movies) for the Marines to take and use. We also have a coffee mess for them to use. These things are great because it allows me the opportunity to see the Marines and interact with them when they come into the office.

We have started doing some cultural tours around the island of Bahrain. We are visiting different sites to allow the Marines to get to know the location and culture of where we are in the world. It is a very different place than what we are used to. It is enjoyable time to get off base and take the Marines to these locations and help them to see something that is new. On the first trip we went to the Bahrain Fort, the Souq (Market), and the King’s Camel

This month was Halloween so the Religious Program Specialist, two other Marines and I conducted a reverse trick-or-treat. A reverse trick-or-treat is where we dress up in costumes and bring candy to the Marines. It was awesome to see the smiles and the laughing because of how ridiculous we looked; but it was worth it.

We have a good schedule out here and it allows for some free time in the evenings to do whatever we need to. I have been doing really well with going to the gym 2 times a day for most of the first month and have lost about 12 lbs. already and plan to lose more as we continue. I have also had the time to get some reading in and have already read a couple of books and keep on reading. The food is good here which means I have to pay attention because it could be contrary to my goal to lose weight! We also have good internet connections in our rooms so I have the ability to skype and email my family regularly so that has been a joy to get to see my family.

The family is doing well in Indiana, staying with my wife’s mom. It is starting to get colder but they are using every moment they can, while the temperature is good, to play outside and go to the zoo. Everyone is getting bigger, especially Avery who is 10 months now. Liz sends me lots of pictures and sends me care packages with letters and art from kids so I can enjoy their many talents. They have even sent me some Lego sets so I can have fun as well!

Thank you for your continued support of love and prayers. Keep them coming. Below I have made a few lists of prayer requests and also items that can be sent in care packages if you desire to send some.

Prayer Requests

  • Safety of our Marines standing post and traveling
  • Safety of Families back home
  • Relationships that are struggling
  • Opportunities to tell Marines about Christ/ encourage them in their faith

 

Care Package Needs

  • Hygiene items – liquid soap, shaving cream, razors, foot powder, tooth brushes, tooth paste, mouth wash, hand sanitizers, lotion, shower shoes, sun screen.
  • Food – snacks, candy bars, drink mixes, coffee supplies (Sugars, creamers, NO coffee)
  • Entertainment – Books, movies, CDs, board games, musical instruments, thank you cards.
  • Holidays – Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year decorations. Cards to Marines and blank cards for them to send home.

 

Send items to:

Chaplain Boon, Nathan
SPMAGTF MWSS 372 (Bravo Co)
Unit 10189
FPO AP 96610-0189

Smoke Batman