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…


So, How’s That Working for You?

prisonChaplain Bill Brown, senior chaplain of the J.R. Donovan Correctional Facility in San Diego county shares an interesting story of life transformation through Jesus Christ.


“Jose was affiliated with the Mexican Mafia and had a life sentence in the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. After being validated as a member of the mafia he spent a number of years in the SHU (Segregated Housing Unit) i.e. solitary confinement, to ensure that he could no longer hurt other inmates.

After many years in the SHU he came to realize the futility of his chosen life style, and he met Jesus as his savior. After much soul searching he decided to drop out of the Mafia, and he was released from the SHU.

In a facility with other inmates, and able to go to chapel services and programs, he grew in his faith and began to have a witness to other inmates. During his free time, he would go out onto the exercise yard and share Jesus with other inmates and give them a gospel track.

One day, after praying for the Holy Spirit to guide and use him, he went outside and looked around. He saw a man by himself, and it seemed like the Holy Spirit said to share with him. So, he went up to him, smiled and held out the track, saying, “I’d like to give you this track.”

The response was a grunt, followed by a question: “What’s that?” He replied, “It’s a track that tells about Jesus.” The man grunted again and said, “I’m a Satanist,” and Jose replied immediately, “So, how’s that working for you?”

The man responded, “What do you mean?” And, Jose replied, “Jesus died for my sins, and gave me forgiveness, he gave me a new life, he restored my relationships with my sister, my mom and my dad, and he has given me a reason for living and a hope for the future. What has Satan done for you?”

The inmate just stared at Jose, and Jose handed him the track and said, “We have a great pastor and awesome worship services. We would love to have you come and join us.”

Chaplain Brown doesn’t know what happened to the self-confessed Satanist, but he does know that a man sentenced to life in prison has already begun to experience “eternal life” here in prison!


If you sense God’s leading into prison ministries, at the local, country, state or federal systems, you will need training and endorsement.  Contact Andy Meverden, CBAmerica’s Director of Chaplaincy for information and guidance on how you might pursue your calling.



Chaplain Andy Meverden
Director of Chaplaincy




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”

Late Boomer Chaplain: When the door finally opens!

2016_02_22_15_54_060001Chaplain Terry & Margaret Sutfin know the meaning of patience and persistence.  Ordained to ministry in 1961 and although qualified and available, Pastor Terry was never able to get into any military branch.  Knowing God wanted them in ministry, they set out to serve in church ministry in New York and Vermont.  When the Vermont church could not support a pastor, wife and three children, they returned to New York where Terry’s family had a Fuel Business.  Active in their home church in Avoca, they served wherever needed.  A volunteer opportunity opened up at the nearby VA Nursing Home Care Unit, where Terry could be found pushing residents in wheelchairs to Chapel on Sunday morning.  With the planned retirement of the facility’s Protestant Chaplain, and budgetary inability for a full-time replacement, the Medical Director recommended the retiring chaplain find someone local who could work as a part-time Contract Chaplain.  Terry was offered the position.  All he needed was an update endorsement.  The initial letter of hire was dated 23 December, 1997.

 Chaplain Sutfin sent out a letter with a recent photo.  In the card he wrote:  

               “FINALLY – by the mid 60’s after College, Grad School, and local experience with CBA in the pastorate, I was qualified for Military Chaplaincy which was my Sincere Desire, but was never able to get into any Military Branch.  HOWEVER – our Omnipotent and Omniscient Lord Jesus already knew that 40 years later I would make it with the very same qualifications.  The place; the VA Medical Center in Bath, NY (one of the very first in existence dating back to the Civil War days).  First as a volunteer pushing wheel chairs to Sunday Services.  NOW, years later my responsibilities have greatly increased to heading up the Community Living Center Chapel program where our average census is 170 permanent residents.  SO – Praise the Lord, I’m happily in His service at age 81, and greatly honored to be the First hired with CBA endorsement for the VA Chaplaincy.” 

               I ran through our VA chaplain files, and Chaplain Sutfin, indeed was CBAmerica’s first endorsed VA chaplain; and I believe is our oldest serving chaplain, not only in the VA, but of all currently endorsed and active CBAmerica chaplains. 

 THEREFORE, by the authority vested in me as the Director of Chaplaincy, CBAmerica, I hereby affirm that Chaplain Terry and Margaret Sutfin are, by virtue, chronological age, and faithfulness, CBAmerica’s 2016 Senior Chaplain and Wife.  Given under my keyboard from my home office in Aurora Colorado, this 22nd Day of February, 2016 in the Year of our Lord.

                   “Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.” (Romans 13:7)


Rev. Andy Meverden
Director of Chaplaincy
Chaplain, Colonel, US Army, Retired

 PS:  Emails congratulating Chaplain Terry and Margaret on this recognition can be sent directly to them at:



Goldfish Crackers & Ministry

8e21f8620589829fd671dde4f1615e92Chaplain, Captain, John Hatfield serves part-time in the Rhode Island Army National Guard.  He, like 47 other CBAmerica reserve chaplains, performs ministry typically one weekend per month.  Twice a year, we ask for a report of the previous six-month period.  Chaplain Hatfield’s report included a specific answer to prayer.

 “My greatest blessing last quarter involved answered prayer. I was having lunch during drill and eating “Goldfish” crackers out of a zip lock bag at lunch. As I was eating, I found a small note from my wife (packed in the goldfish) with the words “Remember Luke 5” written on it. This note (in the midst of these fish crackers) brought to my remembrance a prayer we shared together and to my awareness that God was answering the prayer that very day.

The details are as follows: During a drill weekend it can be difficult to reach all the Soldiers. Prior to one particular drill, my wife and I had read Luke, chapter 5, as one of our devotional readings. After the reading, we were moved to pray that as the Lord Jesus caused the fish to jump into Peter’s net, so He would cause many soldiers to come into my office and that the Lord would be calling them to follow Him.

I had forgotten about the prayer until I read the note from my wife and that very day had seen a threefold increase in the number of visits from soldiers. Many of them were seeking a greater knowledge of God and spiritual things. The whole experience filled me with joy because of the clever way my wife placed the note in the goldfish bag and most of all that prayer was being answered.

My hope is that the Lord will pull these men into His kingdom like the disciples pulled in the fish. It is a great blessing to know the Lord answers prayer.”

 Pray for “many fish” to be prepared to jump into the nets of our CB-endorsed chaplains; that they would be available and ready to listen and speak words of Life to those in need. 


Submitted by Chaplain Andy Meverden, Director of Chaplaincy, CBAmerica. For more stories of chaplain ministries, check out



Burial At Sea: Providing Hope and Closure

USS Makin Island Under wayIt was the most beautiful funeral I have ever led. Watching the final committal from the safety of the higher position, the stern gate, which normally is lowered for Amphibious Assault Vehicles, was now being opened to say farewell to a beloved shipmate one last time.

Moving along the waters just outside of San Diego at just 4 knots, the ocean sprayed up between the small gap made when the gate opens, surrounding the casket with a halo of sea spray and prismatic color in the morning sunlight. The sailors came to attention rendering one final silent salute as the water slowly enveloped the casket. One more wash of salt water gently swept over and pulled the casket out to sea. As it tilted up and peacefully sank into the deep, every sailor present fought back more than one salty tear.

It was at that moment I realized that all the time, energy, and effort in planning, coordinating and rehearsing was worth every minute. This was even more special to us because this was family. This was closure for a crew who had been mourning the loss of a well- known, well-loved, influential Master Chief who just a few months before was leading and mentoring sailors on board this very vessel.

Somehow through this ceremony, people heard the message of hope of eternal life taken from Romans 8. Somehow, no matter the beliefs of those present, seeing their brother in arms laid to rest enabled those present to move forward. Each one left a little more ready to serve with the confidence that in death just as in life, there is someone who cares. As a US Navy chaplain, I am honored to help bring this into the lives of those who sacrifice so much for our nation.

Very respectfully,

Aaron C. Carlton



This Farewell to Kyle article adds the Captain’s perspective with great photos of the ceremony…all the way to watching the casket float off the tail and out to sea!

Invitation to CB Northwest Annual Enrichment Conference


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:  You may also contact Jeremy Schumacher at If you have any questions about registration, please contact Jennifer Bertz at 541-451-4270541-451-4270, x21 or

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.

Holy Order of the Inadequate (HOI)

The Gate through which God Enters
The Gate through which God Enters

That’s in the signature block of Chaplain Bill Brown, Director of Chaplaincy, and Manager of the Kairos Prison Ministry in a large State Prison in San Diego, California.  Since 2002, Chaplain Bill has seen the hand of God work in amazing ways.  I recently caught up with him and asked if he had any encouraging stories he could share.  This is some of what he said:

“I can tell stories all day long of God’s miracles that take place on a daily basis…At the last Kairos Weekend a lead litigant (inmate suing the state to meet the religious needs of Wiccans throughout the California Department of Corrections) came to Jesus and is now attending services and attending the class for new believers.”

He continued:  “A ‘general’ under the founder of the ‘Crips’ has been coming back into the prison where he was an inmate, as a chapel volunteer. For about six years God has been using him powerfully to communicate a message of hope for lasting change and purpose in life. His testimony is powerful, and he is available if you need a speaker to share what God can do.”

“A former ‘high priest’ in the church of Satan has been a member of our Praise and Worship team for a couple of years in the maximum security unit, and he is a leader in our evangelism team there.

“An inmate who was raised Muslim and was healed from stage 4 cancer in the name of Jesus, regularly brings Muslim friends to a Kairos Weekend, and we see Muslims coming to Jesus on a regular basis.”

Then Chaplain Bill shared an interesting story of ministry to Muslims in an unusual, loving way:

“For several years the Christian Volunteers have stepped up and given their time to supervise the inmates in the maximum security unit during Ramadan (Muslim month of fasting). Otherwise, they would not be able to have daily services. We build bridges of unconditional love, and combined with fervent prayer, the Holy Spirit does amazing things.”

Here are statistics for the first six months of 2015:

  • Worship Services – 390
  • Bill’s Personal Counseling (does not include volunteers who counsel) – 143
  • Bible Studies – 253
  • Other discipleship programs (new believer classes, Self-confrontation, praise & worship practices, prayer meetings) – 384

Bill shared an insight to what is making this ministry work: “Intercessory Prayer meetings are the place where we make progress. God hears and answers the prayers of His people.”

When asked to share what other believers can pray for, he listed three critical requests:

  1. For God to send one of His choice servants to replace me when I retire (Dec. ’16); and a smooth transition so that the program continues to thrive.
  2. For God to pour out His Holy Spirit and move mightily among inmates and volunteers.
  3. The salvation and discipleship of hundreds of inmates.

    R.J. Donovan Correctional Facility
    R.J. Donovan Correctional Facility

Some closing thoughts: Imagine you are the Lead Pastor of a 3600 person, multi-site megachurch, with three locations, and five church
facilities.  To carry out 200 monthly worship services, you utilize a staff of over 500 volunteers.  You showed up in 2002 as a Protestant Chaplain, and God has used you, a self-confessed member of the “Holy Order of the Inadequate” (HOI) to lead the development of what we see today.

How did this happen?  A second look at Chaplain Bill’s signature block reveals the “secret.”  There we also read, a second set of three initials “AIJ” (Adequate in Jesus).   Chaplain Bill Brown includes “HOI” and “AIJ” as a reminder that though we are all members of the “Holy Order of the Inadequate (HOI), when we rely on the Holy Spirit, we are “AIJ” (Adequate in Jesus), and able to do His will and work on this earth.

God is at work in amazing ways in some unusual places.  Someone said that when God was kicked out of U.S. schools, He went to work in the U.S. Prison System where He was still welcome.  Chaplain Bill’s reports supports that contention.

If you are interested in pursuing professional ministry in a correctional setting, or any other chaplain specialty, federal or civilian, contact Andy Meverden, CBAmerica’s Director of Chaplaincy at or check out our website at




A Lesson on Personal Safety, from a WW2 Survivor 

Franca Silvana DiSacco, was born in Italy in 1930 in a small village outside Pisa.  The second oldest of seven children, she went to school through the sixth grade before the hostilities of WW2 closed it.  Her father, a stone mason, was sent north into Austria as part of Mussolini’s contribution to Hitler’s war effort.  There he was injured.  Walking home barefoot, he developed gangrene and arrived only to die in his wife’s arms.  Fatherless, Franca and her six siblings scrounged food to survive.  In 1943 she was shot through her left leg while entering an orchard guarded by the Germans; and was rescued by her two brothers and an approaching American Infantry patrol.  She recovered, and in 1946 was raped and impregnated by an American pilot at Darby Field.  In 1949 she married a US Army Soldier, Tech Sergeant Glenn Meverden, who brought her to America.  Together, they had seven children, three girls and four boys.  My mother knew war, and learned how to survive.

In the summer of 2002, I visited mama Franca in her small apartment in Green Bay, WI.  I had orders to deploy as the chaplain of a Special Forces (Green Beret) Battalion to Afghanistan.  As her oldest son, I felt it important to tell her face-to-face, and let her know that I loved her.  I called to tell her the date and time of my visit.  She was waiting for me with a light lunch prepared.  We sat down at her small kitchen table.  I started to speak, but she raised her hand for me to stop.  She looked me in the eyes and said: “You are going to Afghanistan; it is a dangerous place.  Remember tree (sic) things.” She held up her thumb and two fingers in southern European style.  “Number one: always be aware of your surroundings.  Wherever you go, look around at the people, notice what they have in their hands, look to see if they have something under their clothes, like a gun or grenade.”  With her thumb up, she extended her pointer finger, “Number two: I know you American soldiers, you will get tired of eating Army food and want to go into town to eat.  When you enter a restaurant, sit with your back to the wall facing the front door and look for a back door.  Watch everyone who comes in, notice what they are carrying and wearing.  Look for anything dangerous.”  Then her third and middle finger extended, “Tree (she maintained her distinct Italian accent), when you pull the pin on a grenade, you get rid of it real fast!”  She wasn’t smiling or joking.  She was speaking of her wartime experience.  In nearly 40 years of military experience, I’ve never heard a better briefing on personal security and Rules of Engagement.

I share this story out of concern for you and your families, during these dangerous “last days.”  Whether your chaplaincy is federal or civilian, you’re on a police or fire ride-a-long, in the ER, a prison facility, or a combat zone; whether on land, sea or air, in the US or abroad, please remember “Mama Franca’s” advice to her son.  Maintain situational awareness, be aware of escape routes, and, if attacked, throw whatever you have at your attacker.  Jesus warned us, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.” (John 15:18)  Take care and teach your children well.

-Chaplain Andy