Monday, July 13, 2009

Volunteer Chaplains Needed with police, fire, and Civil Air Patrol

From This article is primarily aimed at persons belonging to the United Methodist Church, but I include it here to emphasize the need for chaplains overall, and also the reference to a Buddhist police chaplain serving in the Honolulu Police Department:

(GBHEM) -- Volunteer chaplains are needed with local police and fire departments, Civil Air Patrol groups and in many other locations. The United Methodist General Board of Higher Education and Ministry approves chaplains for volunteer work in a process similar to the endorsement process for full-time chaplains. There are 205 United Methodists approved for volunteer chaplaincies, with 1,236 endorsed chaplains, according to Tom Carter, director of endorsement with GBHEM’s United Methodist Endorsing Agency.
Endorsed chaplains primarily work full time in military, medical institutions, or as pastoral counselors. Volunteer chaplains spend most of their time in local churches. While it is not always required, GBHEM provides approval for volunteer chaplains “to give them recognition for their volunteer service,” Carter says. Some chaplain associations require this approval for membership.
The approval process for volunteer chaplains takes a couple weeks. There is paperwork that must be submitted and the board will also check with the applicant’s district superintendent.
Vergara is one of seven chaplains (six Christian and one Buddhist) serving the Honolulu Police force. His chaplaincy duties include counseling, providing house blessings and other types of blessings for members of the department, conducting wedding services, and teaching at the police academy. The classes he teaches include stress management, ethics and integrity.
The Civil Air Patrol uses volunteer chaplain. The Civil Air Patrol (CAP) is a civilian auxiliary of the United States Air Force and is known primarily for its work in search and rescue and its cadet program.
The Rev. Henry A. Harlow of New Market, Tenn., is now retired after 49 years of service as a CAP chaplain. When serving in Greene County, Tenn., he worked with a man who was a local CAP commander. So, Harlow joined up and began teaching cadets and counseling senior members.
Harlow certainly had an impact. "The commander who got me into it,” Harlow recalls. “I later had his conversion when he accepted Jesus Christ.” Harlow also watched how many of those cadets grow up and later became airline and military pilots. One cadet even became a national CAP commander.
Harlow served throughout the Southeast and eventually became the supervisor of all the CAP chaplains in a state. There are now 92 United Methodist CAP chaplains training cadets and participating in search and rescue operations.
More volunteers are always needed. Carter said elders and deacons interested in volunteer chaplaincy should check with other organizations and agencies as well. “The important thing is their ability to provide ministry to people in crisis and stress," Carter says.
For more information about chaplaincy, feel free to contact Tom Carter at the United Methodist Endorsing Agency, (615) 340-7411 or via email, or visit


Café Zen said...

Very interesting blog. Are there opportunities for military Buddhist to actually practice together while in the military? Or are most personnel interested in Buddhism sort of on their own?

Jeanette Yuinen Shin said...

It very much depends on the individual and location. Some military installations may have active lay groups which meet, or there are opportunities for Buddhists to meet for worship, for example at MCRD San Diego and RTC Great Lakes, the recruit training locations for Marines and Navy personnel respectively. Or most Buddhists may prefer to practice on their own, or at their own temples.

Anonymous said...

The Buddhist Chaplain referenced in the article is Rev. Shuji Komogata, a Soto Zen priest. Rev. Alan Urasaki and Rev. Yoshiaki Fujitani of Honpa Hongwanji also served as chaplains at HPD over the past 30 years.

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