Monday, May 29, 2006

Memorial Day reflections

A few years back, the PCA church I was serving had, as its missions conference focus, the PCA chaplaincy program. Col. David Peterson, a PCA Teaching Elder, came for the weekend, and I learned a lot about the chaplaincy.

One of the events of that weekend was a men's prayer breakfast, and at the beginning then Col. Peterson asked how many of the men present were veterans. As this was a small PCA church with an older congregation, I wasn't surprised that a number of them were vets; but I was surprised to figure out that they only three men in the room who weren't veterans were the two other pastors and myself!

That congregation was made up primarily of World War II and Korean War generation folks. (For reference, my maternal grandfather was a World War II veteran.) Back then, it was typical for most men to serve at least a minimal season in the military.

With the Vietnam War, the general attitude toward military service shifted. Even though the average American citizen is very supportive of military service today, our population is large enough, and our military specialized and technical enough, that we have a substantially smaller population of veterans. I believe that pastors who share military service in common with their congregants will be fewer and fewer in the coming years.

How will this affect the ministry? I'm not sure if the others at that prayer breakfast noticed the divide between pastoral staff and others, but if they had would the pastors' ministries diminish?

If so, then that's a shame. Like so many others, I deeply appreciate the service that veterans-- and those who we remember today who gave their lives in military action-- render to the rest of us. I hope that we pastors can serve you in Gospel ministry as well as you have served us.

No comments: