Story by Sgt. Brad Mincey
EASTOVER, SOUTH CAROLINA – Chaplains from the South Carolina National Guard conducted training March 3-4, 2017, at McCrady Training Center focusing on current issues Soldiers and Airmen face and how the chaplain corps can help service members through troubling times.
Fifteen chaplains from across the state attended this year’s training, which discussed unity in the chaplain corps and offered a chance for fellowship and networking with other state chaplains.
“To be effective, we have to be grounded ourselves,” said Chaplain (Capt.) John Denny, South Carolina National Guard support chaplain. “If all we do is talk about others, we can’t focus on ourselves and be better serving to others. So, we have been going over spiritual disciplines.”
During the training, the chaplains used the book “Celebration of Discipline, The Path to Spiritual Growth” as their guide to learning the 12 disciplines, which includes meditation, prayer, simplicity, service, confession, and guidance along with six others. One part of their training included a section where chaplains had to choose one of the disciplines and teach it to the other chaplains.
“There are 12 disciplines in all, but in the end, if we can walk away understanding five or six of them in the two days we are together, our training will have been successful,” said Denny.
Denny and his group chose simplicity as their discipline and began the training by placing a Bible on the ground and then covering it with a variety of objects that included clothing, a backpack, and a cell phone. Each person in the group discussed how this pile of things was like a cluttered closet.
“Each person brought an object that represents things that get in the way of our relationship with God,” said Denny.
The group then went on to describe how, by simplifying our lives and removing these objects through their strengthened relationship with God, they will be better at helping those service members who need aid and guidance.
Another reason the chaplains conducted their annual training is for an opportunity to meet, socialize, and network with other state chaplains. The chaplain corps is a small group which is spread throughout the state, and each chaplain may support a large number of units and service members.
“We only get to see each other once a year to encourage each other in our faith,” said Denny. “And this helps us to connect personally, as well. For example, if there is a Soldier who a chaplain supports, but that Soldier does not live near that chaplain, it is easier to call another chaplain who lives near that Soldier to give the support. Through this annual training, now it’s not a phone call to a stranger, but to someone we know and have spent time face-to-face with. The chaplains are now friends and can connect with each other.”
Cpl. Emanuel Flemming, 263rd Army Air and Missile Defense Command chaplain candidate, was the newest member of the group and said the training was very beneficial for him.
“I got to see and hear a lot of different perspectives from different chaplains, and each one added something to the discussion which improves each of our lives,” said Flemming. “I also liked that the training was very interactive. We could talk aloud and ask questions about a variety of topics. And as I listened, I learned to remember my purpose, which is that it’s not about you, but the Soldiers, and we all have struggles that we have to work through. This is where I fit in. This is where I think God wants me to be and to be a blessing to others.”