LDS Chaplains in Iraq

This is not a political post, so don’t even think about it.

I know two LDS chaplains currently serving in Iraq, who both went through the Divinity School at the University of Chicago.

One hosts a blog, trying to make people aware of the daily events and things that don’t tend to make the news. Check it out, and remember to include them in your prayers.

34 thoughts on “LDS Chaplains in Iraq

  1. Ben, one of the thrills of working around the church office building is that in the week after conference, you see dozens of men in every imaginable military uniform here for their chaplain’s training and certification. I’ve been around a lot of Mormons, and I’ve been around a lot of servicemen. There’s something about the combination that is pretty special.

  2. Wow. It would be difficult to be an LDS chaplain, as they are ministers to a primarily protestant audience. It’s good that they’re out there though.

  3. Ben, the son of the HPGL in my ward is in training to become an army chaplain. His dad, the HPGL, is proud of his son but wishes he had become a Marine instead, like his father. :)

  4. God bless Chaplain Nathan Kline for providing a critical service to our soldiers in Iraq. Military life can be difficult even when one is not on deployment. These young men and women are blessed to have Kline and his fellow chaplains to help keep them grounded in faith and virtue.

    (See, Geoff? Nothing negative here.)

  5. Military chaplains are a special breed in any case. I had a very good experience in basic training with a protestant chaplain (Baptist, as I recall) who, despite the fact that I’m sure he had serious theological differences, showed the utmost respect for other faiths. I don’t know whether he knew there were two LDS men in my platoon or not, but in our initial orientation with him, he made a point of stating that if any LDS soldiers were given trouble over wearing their priesthood garments, they were to contact him and he would see that it was corrected.

    The very fact that these men are required to minister to those of various faiths leads them to be open-minded, humble and respectful. I salute *all* of them, not just those who happen to be LDS.

  6. Thanks for that link. I find military chaplains fascinating, and LDS chaplains even more so.

  7. Does anyone know what the official LDS stance is on LDS chaplains performing non-LDS ordinances? Late rites, christening, etc.

  8. Mike, #4, I like the new Mike Parker. Now all I need is a comment agreeing with me on economic policy (where I am close to a Libertarian) and we will be eternally singing kumbaya together.

  9. Daylan, based solely on what I read in the blog linked to, LDS chaplains are not allowed to perform them. Nathan Kline says, “Because my denomination restricts me from performing or participating in communion or the Eucharist outside our denomination, I must PROVIDE this for the Soldiers in my care. I do this by coordinating with another Protestant chaplain who does not have these same denominational restrictions. Similarly, Sergeant Tremain, each Saturday, goes to Camp Ramadi with a convoy of gun trucks to retrieve Chaplain Barkemeyer: a Catholic priest who PERFORMS mass for those here at Camp Blue Diamond.” (See http://chaplainkline.blogspot.com/2007/06/battlefield-worship.html)

  10. Thank you so much. I intend to visit his blog regularly. You get better info that way than CNN or FOX.

  11. International Bible Society has a “Military Chaplain Bible Fund”, to which you can donate money to be used to supply Military chaplains with Bibles.

    http://www.ibsdirect.com/mcbf

    For every $3.50 you donate, they send a specially sized, soft-but-durable cover Bible to any mil-chaplain who requests them. The special size fits the uniform cargo pocket. The $3.50 ea includes the cost of shipping the Bibles.

    You can donate online, or mail in a check.

    The translation used is “NIV”, which I think is kind of close to the alternate translations used in our LDS KJV Bible footnotes. Also available to the chaplains are NVI for Spanish.

    Give them a link on your blog. I did, and shortly thereafter, my tracking service showed a bunch of hits from an IBS-owned IP and domain. :-)

    I’m a regular customer of IBS.

  12. What a pleasant surprise it was to stumble upon this conversation. Much of what I do as a chaplain in combat goes unnoticed, and I regret the blessings and joy I receive from my service is not appreciated as much as it could be. This is one of the reasons I keep my blog. The comments posted here reassure me in this regard. Please visit my blog regularly and continue to pray for our Soldiers/Marines and their families? Feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns you may have related to my and my family’s ministry to Soldiers.

    Respectfully,

    Nathan Kline
    Ar Ramadi, Iraq

  13. Nice thread. Stumbled upon it accidentally as I was checking out a story on this site about the connection between Battlestar Galactica (one of my favorite shows) and Mormonism. Saw this thread on the sidebar and have enjoyed reading it.

    I too am an LDS Chaplain in Iraq (my third tour of the war; one deployment to Afghanistan and now two to Iraq). I have proudly worn the chaplain’s cross on my uniform for seven years now and I can say unequivocally that after 25+ years in the Army (Reserve, Guard, and Regular Army) and four different MOS’s (Military Occupationational Specialities), that is the best job I’ve had in the Army. I get to help so many wonderful men and women in uniform, the best that America has to offer.

    I highly recommend this job to any prospective LDS chaplains out there (see http://www.lds.org for more details). We need more folks. We badly need the influence of the Priesthood in today’s military. And the job is a lot of fun. I’ve jumped out of planes at Fort Bragg, NC, lived in the paradise of Hawaii, and served my country at a time of war overseas in the Middle East. I do lots of counseling, preach in Protestant services along with those of other denominations, teach many different classes, perform weddings, and honor the fallen in funerals and memorial ceremonies. If you enjoy “feeding [the Lord’s] sheep”, then this is the perfect job for you.

    I add the same offer to Nate’s: contact me if you would like to know more about the tremendous blessing the chaplaincy has been for me and my family.

    Chris Degn
    Kirkuk, Iraq

  14. Just for information I was reading on the internet about the Rapid Deployment Kit through the military ministry.org Interesting reading.
    I was interested in knowing what our LDS Chaplins were doing? Does the LDS church send out pocket size bibles to our troops?
    Second question How can a person locate a retired Chaplin in the Army? If you have answers please e-mail me.

  15. I see that this is an old thread but would like to bring it to life once again. I am 39 years old and have begun the process of enlisting in the US ARMY and I am also a LDS priesthood holder. My question is two part really, one, can you wear garments in BCT, which I believe is yes. And second, is this something I take with me or will be able to get once at basic…..

    Thanks.

    James (Las Vegas)

  16. James,
    I am an LDS chaplain in the Army and would be glad to answer your question.
    You can get the tan colored Army approved garments through Church Distribution (whether online, over the phone, or your local distribution center). These are Army approved, but not Army issued – you must buy them yourself through Church Distribution.

    If you do not have the tan colored garments and want to wear your white garments under your tan t-shirt, there should be no problem. If anyone gives you trouble on this, talk to your chaplain and he/she should help you out.

    I do not check this website often, but feel free to email me if you have any questions: [email protected].

    God bless- Jason

  17. My husband is on his second tour in Iraq, We have been having relationship issues since his first tour in Iraq 4 years ago. I need to talk to an LDS chaplain. I have tried bishops and couselors they dont understand the military aspect. I have tried non lds military counselors they dont understand the church aspect. How do I find an LDS chaplain to talk to?
    Striding

  18. Striding, I am really sorry about this situation. It is sad that your husband serving his country is causing stress in your relationship. I don’t know any chaplains, but I would encourage any who read this, such as Jason, to get in touch with Striding.

    Thanks.

  19. Not sure if anybody is reading this anymore. I just stumbled on it myself. I am a chaplain in the Navy, though I am pretty new to it. I have a blog about my experiences as well, but I’m not great about maintaining it. If it is helpful you are welcome to check it out. Its at chaplaintop.blogspot.com. In answer to striding, what you are experiencing is very normal. I just attended a big conference all about dealing with the family issues associated with deployment. If you would like any of the resources or to talk, please contact me. If anybody has any questions about chaplain stuff, especially on the navy side of the house, feel free to contact me at [email protected].

  20. I am an lds church member. I have interest in joining the military, either marines or the guard, after my mission. If there are any lds soldiers viewing this that could give me information about being a member in the military , I would very much like that. I’m unsure if enlisting is the right thing and I feel like I need to talk to actual soldiers (lds or not) about their experiences. If you can offer me any help please contact me at [email protected]. Thank you to those who offer help.

  21. @striding
    Striding, Sorry to hear about your marriage challenges. My husband is currently completing his requirements to become an Army LDS Chaplain. Please contact Military relations department at Church Headquarters. They will be able to connect you to the closest LDS Chaplain. Hang in there!!

  22. The Modern LDS Church has no paid clergy. Male Members are trained into Aronic then Melchizedek Priesthood. All men missionaries are Melchizedek Priests, for example.

    I have no idea what a LDS Chaplain would be. These is no such priest that’s equivalent in the LDS Church.

    Each LDS Man in good standing is a priest. I saw there were 1300 LDS soldiers in Irac, that makes around 1300 “Chaplains” …. I guess.

    A collection of LDS would be called a ward and each ward has a bishop. A collection of wards makes a state, with a stake president, and a collection of stakes makes a mission, with a mission president. Irac may be a mission, with several stakes behind the green zones in each large city, but that’s not “Irac”, that’s the US Army. Is that what this article is refering to?

    Let’s don’t get excited until the Irac people themselves are fee to choose how they worship. That goes for the people of Israel and all the “Stans” too.

    The grade of Chaplain is a rank in the US Army. Every chaplain I ever saw was an officer. Is the US Army qualifing LDS soldiers or officers to be chaplains?

    If so, I have no idea how they would fit in the LDS Church. Their not bishops and the bishop calls his own councilors. This has nothing to to with US Army rank or grade or position.

    What does a LDS Chaplain do? Are they missionaries? But missionaries are called to be such and go through the Mission Trainin Center, not bootcamp at Fort Sill.

    Very Strange.

    Elder LRW

  23. Lee Williams,
    The chaplain program for the LDS church is well established. If you have more questions check on lds.org. I am currently going through the process to become a chaplain in the Army. I have served as a bishop and high councilor. The Chaplains have a special place in the church hierarchy in the military. The church handbook Book 1 has more information describing the special nature of being an LDS chaplain. Ask your bishop.
    Jeremy

  24. This is for Lee. I found this on LDS.org. I think your answer is in the very last bulletin.

    What Is a Military Chaplain?

    A chaplain is a commissioned officer in the military. While other nations have military chaplains, chaplains currently serve in the Armed Forces of the United States and France. The chaplaincy is part of the professional corps, which includes professionals such as doctors, nurses, dentists, and lawyers. The decision to pursue a career as a military chaplain is up to the individual. All military chaplains must be endorsed by their religious denomination before they can apply to the chaplaincy.

    Role of Military Chaplains

    As a member of the commander’s staff, chaplains serve as moral, ethical, and spiritual advisers to their commanders. They ensure the free exercise of religion and oversee the unit and base religious programs. Much of the work they do is one-on-one with the soldiers and their families. Chaplains go where the troops go. They are in the barracks, in the offices, and in the training areas, as well as in combat zones ministering to men and women of all faiths, denominations, and persuasions. They must be able to work in a pluralistic religious environment, respecting and accommodating members of all faiths without compromising their own beliefs. Chaplains serve full-time in the active-duty Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard. In addition, they can serve part-time in the Reserve and National Guard while pursuing other forms of civilian employment. As with all Reserve and National Guard members, if the unit is activated, they may have to deploy for extended periods of time.

    Duties and Responsibilities

    Specific duties and responsibilities of Latter-day Saint chaplains include:

    *Operating in a pluralistic environment and abiding by the Code of Ethics (http://www.ncmaf.org) approved by the National Council on Ministry to the Armed Forces.

    *Exemplifying to all people the best characteristics of Christianity.

    *Serving under the Protestant umbrella in the chaplaincy and accommodating the free exercise of religion for all service members.

    *Performing marriages and conducting memorial services and funerals for service members and their families.

    *Visiting military and family members in hospitals, in their homes, in their work places, in detention facilities, in the training areas, and during combat operations.

    *Conducting various religious seminars and retreats such as marriage improvement, parenting, spiritual leadership training, warrior transition from combat operation, anger control in the home, and spiritual awareness for youth.

    *Developing and supporting chapel-sponsored youth activities, youth vacation scripture study programs, and religious education programs.

    *Teaching classes to service members on topics of religion, ethics, leadership, and other areas that build moral character in men and women.

    *Counseling service members and families during times of crisis and supporting them in the many challenges they face due to family separation because of military deployments.

    *Accompanying the military members and providing encouragement, spiritual strength, and religious support during periods of combat.

    *Working closely with local stake and ward priesthood leaders in activation and retention activities and actively seeking out the less-active military members.

    ***Like any other Church member, a chaplain has no ecclesiastical authority within the Church structure unless called to serve in a ward or stake calling by the local priesthood authorities. Although being a chaplain is not a Church calling, a Latter-day Saint chaplain does represent the Church within the chaplaincy. Those who become Latter-day Saint chaplains must possess a strong testimony and an in-depth understanding of gospel doctrines and Church administration.

    Note: When deployed to areas of the world where the Church is not established, chaplains will operate under the direction of Area Presidents to establish service member groups, call and set apart group leaders, give priesthood blessings, and support the group leaders and members as needed.

  25. Greetings to all. I am not a LDS chaplain, or even a LDS soldier. I have a question that I am looking for an answer, to, though, for the benefit of my subordinate chaplains. I am a brigade chaplain in Alaska, and I have 2 LDS chaplains under me, both of whom are brand new to the chaplaincy. I would wait to ask them this until next week, since it’s Saturday now, but I thought I would post it here to see if anyone would share with me. I know that LDS chaplains can lead a general protestant service, to include giving communion in the combat zone. They cannot partake of communion with general protestants, though. We do have a growing number of LDS soldiers, though. Can my LDS chaplains, who are both quite young, lead a LDS worship service, if they are not elders? We are deploying to Afghanistan late next year, so I am also trying to get a bead on preparation issues.

    This is just a mission-analysis question, knowing what different chaplains’ limitations are, nothing to be read into it. I’ll ask my guys about it next week anyway, but getting input here would also help. Thank you for all that you do to help people grow.

  26. Ken,

    Yes an LDS Chaplain is an Elder in the Priesthood and is able to lead a LDS Worship service.

  27. I am a female interested in earning my MDIV and becoming a chaplain, probably in a hospital. Where can I find out information regarding endorsement? I am LDS, thank you.

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