Luncheon in Indy honors chaplains

INDIANAPOLIS (BP) – The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) annual meeting featured an appreciation luncheon for chaplains on June 11 at the Indianapolis Artsgarden. The event celebrated the dedication and service of chaplains who minister in challenging environments where traditional church access is limited.

Brent Bond, senior director of chaplaincy for the North American Mission Board (NAMB), welcomed attendees, expressing gratitude on behalf of the team.

“God, thank you for the calling you’ve placed on our lives,” Bond prayed, acknowledging the divine purpose guiding their work. He also extended thanks to the chaplains and their spouses for their unwavering commitment and service.

Chaplain Major General Doug Carver (U.S. Army retired), NAMB’s executive director of chaplaincy, commended the chaplains for heeding the call to ministry and chaplaincy.

“You are sent outside of your church to some tough places where the church can’t go,” Carver said, emphasizing the unique and vital role chaplains play in prisons, hospitals, the Armed Services, and other challenging settings where credentials and endorsements are essential.

Highlighting the support system in place for chaplains, Carver spoke about the ongoing efforts to enhance chaplain ministry training and promote lifelong learning.

“This year, we’ve been focusing on the heart and character of the chaplain. All of you are prayed for regardless of where you’re serving,” he said. Carver also reminded the chaplains of the importance of balancing their demanding ministry work with their family life.

Among the honored guests was Chaplain (MG) Randy Kitchens, chief of chaplains for the United States Air Force who has 37 years of military service, and Paul Kim, a former Army chaplain and church planter who, along with his team, has regularly planted churches around world in the last few decades.

The luncheon also included a special recognition for United States Navy Chaplain (LCDR) Scott Callahan, who was commissioned during the event. Callahan, a 1993 graduate of the Naval Academy, served as a chaplain until 2011 and later as a missionary in China and Singapore before returning to the Navy as a chaplain.

Carver, who is also serving as an interim pastor, then delivered a message from the book of Malachi. He underscored the importance of sincere and wholehearted dedication to ministry, urging chaplains to offer their best to God, not merely what is convenient.

“Malachi was charged by God to bring the Word of God. It is not easy in our culture that has continued to turn from the Lord,” Carver said.

He encouraged chaplains to be faithful in teaching Scripture and to maintain integrity, reminding them that their followers’ theological depth depends on their own.

Keith Croom, national chaplaincy pastoral care manager, concluded the event with words of appreciation. “You are the hands and feet of Christ. It is an honor to serve you,” Croom stated, encapsulating the spirit of gratitude and support that permeated the luncheon.

The event was a poignant reminder of chaplains’ crucial role in extending the church’s reach and providing spiritual support in some of the most difficult and inaccessible environments. The SBC’s recognition and support underscore the value placed on these dedicated individuals and their families.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Faith Wroten is the editor of On Mission Magazine, a publication of the North American Mission Board.)

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