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Military and Worship

The Military and Our Worship

Chaplain (BG) Ronald S. Gauss (USA) Retired

45 years ago, two Graduating Seniors from Harvard Law School took as their Senior project a law suit against the United States Army stating that According to the U.S. Constitution, Non-Appropriated Funds could not be used to support our Military Chaplaincy. The Army being the oldest Military Chaplaincy it became the focus of the endeavor. The case worked its way through all levels of the courts, the Senior students winning at one level and then losing at another. The Case final made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court. The U.S. Supreme Court found in favor of the Army Chaplaincy stating the they could not hear the case since the Chaplaincy was established before the Constitution by the Continental Congress, but they further stipulated that the Chaplaincy was responsible to provide spiritual care for all religions when required and deemed necessary.

Hence, we find that there is governmental standing for Religious/Ministry provided to the Military at the beginning of our Nation. St. Paul in his letter to the Church in Rome at the 13th Chapter states: “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established, the authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against what God has instituted is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgement on themselves….” (Romans 13:1-2)

Anglicans in all provinces have provided Spiritual Care through many instruments. Military Chaplaincy and Military Parishes are but one form of ministry and where active Chaplaincy activities are not available local Parishes, and contract Clergy have been provided. Are not those serving in the Military in need of Spiritual Care, and especially those who belong to Anglican Churches. The Anglican Liturgy (Works of the People) provide for the most beautiful, and fulfilling setting for Worship and Spiritual care throughout all of the varying Religious experiences.

We find that Anglican Theology and Liturgy fit perfectly into the Military Environment. The Early formulation of the Army Chaplain reveals ultimately several attempts at laying down structure and duties for the Chaplains. The Anglican Church in its structure and Liturgy provide such format. The first real Chaplains manual was published in 1926. The early chaplains struggled with their non-combatant status. Second, social issues such as recreation and the playing of “Moving Pictures” on the sabbath were respected by the military but progressives within the chaplaincy forced their agenda upon the majority of chaplaincy.

“The duty of the Chaplain lies with the men of his command who are on the fighting line”. This guidance reflected a principle of proximity. That is, chaplains minister wherever their soldiers are found, up to and including during direct ground combat. This has been the theme of the Chaplaincy from the very inception. Historical research has provided data that the Chaplains were with their soldiers throughout military conflict. Regulations today state that Chaplains cannot be required to perform any duty that their church will not allow except they must provide for the Spiritual care of those other faith groups.

As the finite duties of the Chaplain in the Army are very imperfectly defined, within the Roman Catholic, Lutheran, and Anglican Churches their form and direction of Worship assists the Chaplain in their daily task and worship. The Anglican Priest as Chaplain goes far beyond the role of Liturgist, or Bible School Teacher. The Chaplain is Marriage counselor, Military Guidance Counselor, Personal Counselor and Biblical Counselor. The Chaplain give Spiritual Guidance as well. The Anglican Church being a Biblical, Liturgical and pastoral Church makes for a very reliable and support for an individual as a Chaplain.

One would find all through Holy Scripture the use of Spiritual Leadership. Prophets, Pastors, Teacher, Elders are consistently called upon to assist those in every status of life. We find such in the Wars as well as peaceful time according to Scripture.

The Chaplain is an integral part of the Military, especially the Anglican Clergy.

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