SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. —
The base chapel hosted a Pastor Appreciation Lunch for 25 Protestant church leaders from the local area on Feb. 16, 2022.
Event organizer and Protestant Religious Education Coordinator, Cara Kriz said the event was an opportunity for the base chapel to meet face-to-face with local clergy. The base chapel was the first in the Air Force to end on-base Protestant services in December 2020 to better align with its Air Force mission of enhancing Airmen readiness and spiritual resiliency.
Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Michael Howard, wing chaplain, 375th Air Mobility Wing said, “The base chapel team deploys, gets re-assigned to other bases, separates, and retires like all Airmen. This is why it’s important for us to connect with the 200-plus churches within 15 to 20 minutes driving distance from Scott Air Force Base.”
Howard told the church leaders they play an important role in providing the Scott AFB community a consistency of care. “We invited you here today to let you know how much you matter to us and to thank you for what you do. Our small staff of chaplains and religious affairs teams can’t care for the tens of thousands of servicemembers, military families, Defense civilians, and retirees here. There’s too little of us and too many of them. We must focus on our primary mission of supporting and caring for our servicemembers. Your community churches allow us to do that.”
Chaplain (Capt.) Michael Farar, deputy wing chaplain, added that the base chapel was actively looking for ways to collaborate with local churches to provide services and share resources. “We are glad you are here today. We are excited to build a relationship with you. We want to figure out ways we can work together.”
The event’s guest speaker Mark Oberhauser, area director for the Metro East Fellowship of Christian Athletes, encouraged the church leaders to take advantage of the base chapel’s invitation. “Many of the servicemembers assigned here are far away from their families. They may need comfort, companionship, and fellowship. We can give that to them.”
After lunch, Kriz gave a presentation about the military lifestyle and ways local churches can support the Team Scott community. The event ended with remarks by Lt. Col. Christian Chae, Chief of Chaplain Accessions, about the military chaplain career specialty and how area chaplains can apply to the chaplain commissioning program.