Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Announcing the new Church of the Larger Fellowship Military Ministry Website!

It is my honor and privilege to invite Military Affiliated Unitarian Universalists (and indeed all Unitarian Universalists) to visit the new Military Ministry Website, sponsored by the Church of the Larger Fellowship (CLF).


We hope it will become a place for those of us of liberal faith with a connection to the military to build community with one another, to connect with serving Chaplains and Chaplain Candidates, to post resources, and to share our stories. At times, it is hard to be a military member in Unitarian Universalism, just as it is hard to be a Unitarian Universalist in the military. Our hope is to bring those military members and their families whose service keeps them away from our congregations into community with Military Affiliated UUs who find a home in the congregations of our faith.

A Military Affiliated UU is someone who identifies as a Unitarian Universalist who is a military servicemember, a military spouse, a military veteran, a military family-member, a Department of Defense employee, a military contractor, or the friend of any of these who wishes to build community with other Military Affiliated Unitarian Universalists.

The Church of the Larger Fellowship began during World War II, as a way for Unitarian Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines to stay connected to their faith while they were serving overseas. Though Unitarian Universalists may disagree on issues of war and peace, our faith supports all of those who serve, who have served, and their families.

We would like to thank the Church of the Larger Fellowship for making this ministry a part of their vision, and we look forward to working with them in the years to come in partnership on this important ministry. Specifically, we would like to thank the Rev. Jane Rzepka, Lorraine Dennis, and Andrea Fiore for their help and support in putting this online presence together.

Come, come whoever you are….

Yours in Faith,

David Pyle
1LT, USAR Chaplain Candidate
MOD Minister, Great Lakes Military Ministry

Friday, June 20, 2008


Congregational Resources for Military Ministry

Here are some online links to resources for Congregations concerned with Military Ministry, caring for military families, reaching out to returning servicemembers and veterans, supporting the servicemembers in our congregations, and connecting with an supporting our military chaplains and military ministries.

Please check this page often, as we will keep it updated with the latest information.

If you have been directed to this page from the booth or one of the UUMM events at the UUA General Assembly in Ft. Lauderdale in 2008, greetings and thank you for your support for Unitarian Universalist Military Ministries!

1) Deployment Resources for America's Clergy Handbook
This handbook was created by the U.S. Army Office of the Chief of Chaplains, and is intended to provide civilian clergy with the resources they need to minister to and support military families as they deal with military deployments. It contains practical guides to connecting with military resources, beginning emergency messages through the American Red Cross, and recognizing the signs of Combat Stress and Battle Mind Injury. It also contains a wonderful article by military psychologists on understanding the Emotional Cycle of Deployment in military families. Every minister should have this resource on their shelf!

2) The Emotional Cycle of Deployment: A Military Family Perspective
This article, published in the Apr-Jun 2001 edition of U.S. Army Medical Department Journal is an excellent resource in understanding the emotional cycles that military families go through around deployments. Some of the same cycles occur around all forms of family separation, and so this is well worth the read even if you are not currently in ministry with a military family.

3) Great Lakes Military Ministry Brochure
The Great Lakes Military Ministry Project presents Sunday morning UU Worship Services for the basic training recruits at the Great Lakes Naval Recruit Training Center. This program not only reaches servicemembers with a message of UU values, principles, and faith, but also allows seminarians and Chicago area lay worship leaders the opportunity to gain experience in young adult and identity based ministry.

4) UUniforms Program, Unitarian Church of Norfolk, Virginia
This program, featured in the UU Military Ministries workshop at General Assembly, is a model for how UU congregations can reach out to the military servicemembers and veterans both within and beyond their church communities. This brochure can start your congregation on the path to beginning such a ministry within your congregation.

5) We Are Family: Storytelling with Veterans, Unitarian Church of Evanston, IL
This brochure details a project to listen to and share the stories of the members of a congregation who had served in the military. The project resulted in a small book of essays on the military experiences of the congregation members, and how those experiences have affected them and their path to Unitarian Universalism. This is a project that other congregations could follow fairly easily, and can deepen a congregation’s understanding of itself.

6) Unitarian Universalists in Military Ministries: Approval – Endorsement – Support
This brochure is an introduction to the new UUAoC Policies on how our faith trains, endorses, and supports UU ministers and seminarians serving as Chaplains and Chaplain Candidates in Federal Chaplaincy, including Military, Veteran’s Affairs, and Civil Air Patrol Chaplaincy. It also introduces the UUA Committee on Military Ministry.

7) Committee on Military Ministry
This section of the UUA website provides information from the Committee on Military Ministry, including the necessary forms for application for Ecclesiastical Approval and Ecclesiastical Endorsement, committee membership, and the annual reporting requirements of endorsed Federal Chaplains. It also includes the full and detailed UUA policy for approval, endorsement, and support of Federal Chaplains and Chaplain Candidates.

8) Battlemind
This website is a collection of resources, videos, pamphlets, and interactive material designed to help families, clergy, and servicemembers understand and cope with the difficult task of mentally, spiritually, and physically re-integrating with civilian society after returning from serving in a combat zone. If you are a minister working with a returning servicemember, please spend some time with this site, and encourage the servicemember and family to do the same.

9) Unitarian Universalism and Military Chaplaincy
This article by David Pyle addresses some of the many commonly held objections to military chaplaincy by Unitarian Universalists. Specifically, the article addresses issues such as religious pacifism, separation of church and state, religious responsibility, and the “institutional sins” of the military.

10) GA 2005 Program “Unitarian Universalists in the Military” Brochure
This brochure was for the UU’s in the Military workshop that was a turning point for UU Military Ministries. Both the brochure and the summary of what occurred in it are well worth the read in understanding the difficulty of being an outsider in the military by being a UU, and an outsider in UU by being in the military.

11) UU World Articles on Military Chaplaincy:

“Preparing for Military Chaplaincy” Two Unitarian Universalist seminarians say many in the military are receptive to liberal religion. By Leah Rubin-Cadrain 4.6.07

“UU minister joins Army as a chaplain” The Rev. George Tyger prepares for summer deployment. By Donald E. Skinner 1.4.08

“A pacifist's salute" A Unitarian Universalist military chaplain can’t fight but honors those who do. By Cynthia Kane 5.29.06

“Embattled Faith” A personal exploration of uncomfortable questions: How do you "support the troops" when you oppose the war? Is there a Unitarian Universalist approach to war and peace? By Neil Shister July/August 2003

Please continue to check this list, as resources will continue to be added as they are developed. If you have a resource you would like to share, please send it to uumil@uublog.org

Yours in Faith,

David Pyle

Coordinator, UU Military Ministries

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Profound Thanks of the Great Lakes Military Ministry Project

The Great Lakes Military Ministry Project, our UU Worship Services at the Great Lakes Naval Recruit Training Center, would like to offer our gratitude to several individuals and organizations who have recently supported our ministry in varied but profound ways.

First, we would like to thank the Central Midwest District of the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregation for their generous donation of 30 "Singing the Living Tradition" Hymnals for use by our recruits. This will allow us to greatly expand our music program, at the same time it benefits the ministerial formation of our seminarian worship leaders, by deepening their experience with the hymnal. The cost of this gift came to almost 1,000 dollars. It was approved by Rev. Ian Evison and Dori Davenport Thexton, and ordered by Peggy Boccard... thank you all!

Second, we would like to thank Rev. Brian Covell and the Third Unitairan Church of Chicago for the donation of a new stereo system for the project, with a remote control, CD player, and I-Pod dock. This has greatly expanded our ability to present worship, allowing our worship leaders to bring music in several different formats, and to control the music without leaving the pulpit. Before, we were borrowing a stereo each week. We would also like to thank Rev. Covell for agreeing to serve this next year as the Ministerial Mentor/Advisor for the seminary students participating as worship leaders in the project. Thank you Brian!

Third, we would like to offer our continuing gratitude to the minister and congregation that brought about the formation of this ministry, Rev. Barbara Pescan and the Unitarian Church of Evanston. Not only do we want to thank you for making the Great Lakes Military Ministry Project your Special Offering for the month of June, but also for the donation of our wonderful chalice, and your continuing support in providing worship leaders. We would also like to thank UCE for agreeing to continue to accept donations to the project for us. Without your support, this ministry would not be happening... thank you.

Fourth, we would like to thank the Church of the Larger Fellowship for their continued donation of pamphlets and brochures on Unitarian Universalism, which provides recruits with a way to continue their connection to our faith after they graduate from Basic Training. We also want to thank them for the continuing conversation on how to better connect our UU's in the Military with our faith. Rev. Jane Rzepka, and Lorraine Dennis have been wonderful at providing this necessary resource and support to us each and every time we ask. Thank you!

Fifth, we are honored to offer our gratitude to the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee for their selection of Seanan Holland and the Great Lakes Military Ministry Project to receive the 2008 Seminarian Award. Thank you for the opportunity to highlight this ministry, and to share it with the wider Unitarian Universalist Community. To Charlie Clements and the UUSC board, we offer our deep thanks!
This also leads us to thank and honor Seanan Holland, as he leaves the directorship of the project to go to Rockville Maryland for his ministerial internship. Seanan, you have been the rock that held this ministry togehter, and we are very, very proud of you. Have a great internship!

And of course, we are deeply grateful for all of the volunteers who have served as Worship Leaders in this past year. You have touched lives... and is there better ministry than that?

Please join us at General Assembly in Ft. Lauderdale for the workshop on Founding and Sustaining a Military Support Group, or for the UUSC Awards Ceremony. Please click here if you are not going but would like to read the brochure of the Great Lakes Military Ministry Project.

Yours in Faith,

David Pyle
Project Director
Great Lakes Military Ministry Project
2LT, USAR Chaplain Candidate

We look forward to a wonderful Summer, and a wonderful year of ministry.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Online Survey on UU and Military attitudes

UUniforms, Unitarian Church of Norfolk's military support group, is conducting an online survey about your individual and congregational attitudes towards those working in and with the military:

All answers are confidential and the results will be used to augment our General Assembly '08 presentation "Founding and Sustaining a UU Military Support Group."
This survey takes about 20 minutes to complete. It can be accessed
from our the Unitarian Church of Norfolk homepage (http://www.blogger.com/www.ucnorfolk.org) or directly from http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=RFWSScfZ6NXfLZ4s25F65Q_3d_3d

Please complete your survey by June 6th. Point of contact is Lou Portella at uulouie@gmail.com
Your participation and support is greatly appreciated.

In faith & fellowship,

Chaplain Cynthia L. G. Kane
Lieutenant, Chaplain Corps, United States Navy

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Unitarian Universalist Military Ministries News!

Spring 2008

In this Spring issue:

1) General Assembly Workshop
2) Presence at the Ministry and Professional Leadership Booth at GA
3) Salute to Maj. Greg Rouillard
4) Update on the Great Lakes Project
5) Request for UU’s in the Military participation in the Peacemaking Congregational Study / Action Issue discussion

1) General Assembly Workshop

The Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations General Assembly is coming up, from June 25th to 29th, in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. UUniforms, a program at the UU Church in Norfolk, VA, will be presenting a workshop entitled “Founding and Sustaining a UU Military Support Group. Here is their blurb:

"FOUNDING AND SUSTAINING A UU MILITARY SUPPORT GROUP" --- Unitarian Universalists always have been integral to our nation's military and Department of Defense. Many congregations want to be more welcoming to its military/DoD members and their families but don't know how. This presentation offers practical advice about successfully founding and sustaining a group for fellowship and support. The program is scheduled for Thu 26 June, 11:00 AM - 12:15 PM, Convention Center, Grand Floridian G. The program will be presented by Lou Portella and CH Cynthia Kane… though other UU Military Ministry members will be in attendance.

Click here to see a flyer on the workshop. Join us!

Click here to learn more about General Assembly.

2) Presence at the Ministry and Professional Leadership Booth at GA

At the invitation of Rev. Beth Miller, UU Military Ministries will be maintaining a “Uniformed Ministry of Presence” at the Ministry and Professional Leadership Booth at General Assembly in Ft. Lauderdale. Our goal is to have a Chaplain, Chaplain Candidate, or UUMM Project Associate at the booth to answer questions about the military, military chaplaincy, and UU’s who serve in the military, as well as to provide a contact point. Literature will be available for clergy, as well as for families and spouses of servicemembers. There will also be literature available on the UUA’s Committee on Military Ministry. Please come by and say hello!

There is also a planned meeting of the Committee on Military Ministry at General Assembly, as well as an opportunity for those who are interested in Military Chaplaincy and Military Ministry to ask questions of the Committee, serving Chaplains, and Rev. Beth Miller, the UUA’s official Military Chaplain Endorser. When those plans are finalized, the dates and times will be announced through the UUMM website.

3) Salute to Maj. Greg Rouillard

UU Military Ministries wants to salute and congratulate Maj. Greg Rouillard on his upcoming retirement from the U.S. Marine Corps. Many of you may know Maj. Rouillard from his online name of “Slidestorm” and also from his blogs “(r)evolutions” and “A Virginia UU in King George’s War”, as well as being one of the panelists at the UU Military workshop at General Assembly in 2005.

Maj. Rouillard also began the “UU’s in the Military” Blog, when he sensed there was a need for UU’s to build greater community. His faithful service to our nation, as well as to our liberal religious tradition, reflect great credit upon himself, his family, his friends, and his congregation. Greg has been instrumental in being one of the first voices calling for UU’s in or affiliated with the military to build community. Here is the email he sent out…


This e-mail is to announce my upcoming retirement from the Marine Corps.
I wish that all of you could join me for my ceremony on May 9 in Virginia, and I realize that it's pretty unlikely given where you live.

If for some reason you think you might be able to come, please let me know and I'll send you more details.

At any rate, my retirement is official on June 1, and on June 2 I begin a new job with Organizational Strategies, Inc. (OSI), doing much the same work I've been doing the past two years, in the same office, with the same people. We have decided to stay in Virginia for the time being to see what happens with the housing market and some other things. Our eventual goal is to live in an intentional community in Boulder, CO.

I hope to hear from you - with some it's been years since we've been in touch.
If you know of anyone else who might be interested in knowing about my retirement, please forward this message.

Best Regards,
Greg Rouillard

We salute you sir! Thank you for your service. And on a personal note, I (David Pyle) would like to thank you for the trust and confidence you have shown in trusting me to steward the UU’s in the military group. Semper Fi! (or, in my language, AIRBORNE!)

4) Update on the Great Lakes Project

The UU Military Ministries sponsored project that provides Sunday Morning UU worship services for the basic training recruits at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center is growing, and seeking to find ways to build deeper connections with local UU organizations. The program, which has been a partnership of UUMM with the Meadville Lombard Theological School and the Unitarian Church of Evanston, is seeking to broaden its base of support.

Currently, the program is averaging between 25 and 40 recruits for worship each Sunday morning, and has involved over 12 worship associates from Meadville and UCE. This years project director is LTC Seanan Holland, a Marine Corps Reserve officer and a 3rd year Meadville student working towards Naval Chaplaincy. The program has been reaching a broad range of recruits, many of whom have never encountered Unitarian Universalism before.

Next month, the Great Lakes Project will be meeting with representatives of the Central Midwest District of the UUA, the Meadville Lombard Theological School, the Chicago Area UU Council, the Unitarian Church of Evanston, and the Chicago Liberal Association of Ministers to discuss ways to deepen the connection of the Chicago area to the Great Lakes Project. Our goal of that meeting is to develop ways to insure that the UU worship services for Naval recruits continues for years to come.

If you would like to support the project, please contact David Pyle at david@celestiallands.com.

5) Request for UU’s in the Military participation in the Peacemaking Congregational Study / Action Issue discussion

Glenn E. King, a member of the Peacemaking Resources Working Group, and the Ministerial Intern at the First Church UU, in Leominster MA, has requested that those military and military affiliated Unitarian Universalists who wish to have their voices heard in the continuing discussion around the current Congregational Study / Action Issue contact him. Here is the email he sent to UUMM.

Greetings, I have a request which I hope you can help with. I am not in the military, however I am hoping your blog members can help out. I am currently working with a core team on the Peacemaking Congregational Study Action Issue and one thing we have determined is that voices from the military are not being heard on this issue. If any members would like to be involved in a "Military Voices" working group, that would examine this issue, please have them get in touch with me.

More information on the CSAI can be found at

Thanks much,
Glenn E. King
Peacemaking Resources Working Group
Ministerial Intern, First Church UU, Leominster, MA

Our voices are important in this discussion, so lets be heard! Anyone who is interested can contact Glenn directly.

6) “Deployment Resources for America’s Clergy” is now online!

Over the years, UUMM has regularly received requests from Unitarian Universalists Ministers for resources on how to better minister with servicemembers and their families. The U.S. Army Office of the Chief of Chaplains has produced a resource document for civilian clergy on this issue. Here is a link.

We are currently using this document as the basis for a workshop for civilian clergy being presented by UUMM in the Evanston, Illinois area, and hope to expand that work. It contains information on the role of civilian clergy in providing information and support to military families, and also provides some basic pamphlets that can be handed out. It also contains an excellent article written by military psychologists on the emotional cycle a military family goes through during a deployment. It is a great resource for ministers to have on their shelf.
If the brochures in this version do not print well for you, let UUMM know and we will send you a version in Microsoft Word.

Thank you all for your service, as servicemembers, as military family members, as veterans, and as allies. If UUMM can be of service to you, just contact us at uumil@uublog.org .

Yours in Faith,
David Pyle
2LT, USAR Chaplain Candidate
Student, Meadville Lombard Theological School
Ministerial Intern, Unitarian Church of Evanston
Coordinator, UU Military Ministries

Friday, January 4, 2008

UUMM Welcomes Two New Chaplain Candidates

UUMM would like to welcome and congratulate two new U.S. Army Chaplain Candidates!

Second Lieutenant James White is a student at the Meadville Lombard Theological School. He was sworn in as a Chaplain Candidate by 2LT David Pyle, in a ceremony at the serminary. James is a prior service Sergeant/E-5 who has served in Iraq and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Prior to coming to Meadville, James was on active duty at Ft. Hood, TX. James is a graduate of Oklahoma State University. James is a Army Reserve Chaplain Candidate.

Second Lieutenant Luke Leonard is a student at the United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities in New Brighton, MN. Luke is also an Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran, having served in Mosul with the Iowa National Guard. He rose to the rank of Staff Sergeant / E-6 prior to his commission. He also served on Active duty in Seoul, South Korea. Luke is a graduate of the University of Iowa. Unlike James, Luke is a Minnesota National Guard Chaplain Candidate.

We welcome both of them to UUMM, and to the largest young adult ministry in the world!

Yours in Faith,

David Pyle,

2LT, USAR Chaplain Candidate

UU World Article on CH George Tyger

UU World (the Unitarian Universalist Denominational magazine) has published a wonderful online article on Chaplain (CPT) George Tyger. Chaplain Tyger is the UUA's only fellowshipped minister serving currently on Active Duty.

The article also includes some comments from Rev. Beth Miller, the Director of the UUA's Ministry and Professional Leadership Staff Group on the need to support military chaplains, as well as the new UUA policies on military chaplaincy.

Check out the article at http://www.uuworld.org/news/articles/61395.shtml and great work George!

Yours in Faith,

David Pyle

2LT, USAR Chaplain Candidate

Saturday, December 1, 2007

UUA Announces Policy on Military Chaplaincy Endorsement

The Unitarian Universalist Association has placed on their website (uua.org) the official policies for the endorsement and support of Military Chaplains and Chaplain Candidates. UUMM was a part of the drafting of the policy proposal to the UUA which has now been adopted.

Those policies can be found here.

If you are interested in persuing a call to the military chaplaincy of the Unitarian Univesalist Faith, these policies will let you know what the requirements are, how you begin the process, and what other considerations you need to be aware of as you begin this path.

UUMM would like to thank the UUA, Rev. Beth Miller, and Rev. Lisa Presley for all their work to re-draft and announce these policies... and for the faith and support of the vocation of military chaplaincy that is represented by them.

Yours in Faith,

David Pyle

Monday, September 3, 2007

Two UU's Graduate from the U.S. Army Chaplain Basic Officer Leader Course

On Friday, August 31st, two Unitarian Universalists graduated from the Chaplain Basic Officer Leader Course of the U.S. Army Chaplain Center and School at Ft. Jackson, SC.

Chaplain (CPT) George Tyger (left) is a 14 year "veteran" of the Unitarian Universalist ministry, who prior to following the call into the U.S. Army Chaplaincy served as the senior minister of the First Universalist Church of Rochester, NY. Chaplain Tyger has been accepted onto active duty, and will be serving the spiritual needs of soldiers at Ft. Hood, TX. This is Chaplain Tyger's second time in the military, having served before as an infantry soldier.

2LT David Pyle (right) is a third year seminarian at the Meadville Lombard Theological School, and a Chaplain Candidate. David will be serving the next year as the ministerial intern of the Unitarian Church of Evanston, Illinois. After completing seminary and fellowship, David hopes to be accepted onto active duty. David is a prior service Army intelligence analyst.
They are pictured above with the class gift, presented to the school, of an American flag placed over the words of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The gift is intended as a reminder to future classes of Chaplains and Chaplain Candidates that the purpose and mission of the U.S. Army Chaplaincy is to protect the free exercise of religion in the Army, not to prostelytize for any particular faith group or denomination.

The Chaplain Officer Basic Leaders Course is a 12 week intensive course in the role and duties of an Army Chaplain. The course seeks to teach how to minister in the unique, complex, and pluralistic environment of the U.S. Army. The course includes instruction in how to survive as a non-combatant during war, certifications as instructors in family wellness, military memorial and worship ceremonies, military ethics, counseling soldiers and their families, the role of a staff officer, and much more. Physical fitness, field exercises, and attendence at almost a hundred different worship services are also a part of the training.

David and George graduated as a part of what is the largest class of Chaplains and Chaplain Candidates in over 25 years.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

UUA Endorser Visits U.S. Army Chaplain Center and School

On the 11th and 12th of July, 2007 the Rev. Beth Miller, the Director of Ministry and Professional Leadership (top center) and Rev. Lisa Presley, the Chair of the Committee on Military Ministry (top left), visited the U.S. Army Chaplain Center and School at Ft. Jackson, SC.

This historic visit was commemorated with the hanging of an "Endorser's Banner" in the hall of banners at the Center and School. Though the UUA has long been represented in Army Chaplaincy, this is the first time that the symbol of our faith has joined those of other Chaplaincy Endorsers. The banner was received for the school by CH (COL) David Kenehan (top right), the Deputy Commandant of the Chaplain Center and School.

This summer is a historic time at the U.S. Army Chaplain Center and School for Unitarian Universalism. Two Unitarian Universalists are students at the Chaplain Officer Basic Leaders Course this summer: CH (CPT) George Tyger (bottom left) formerly the minister of the Universalist Church of Rochester, and 2LT David Pyle (bottom right) a third year student at the Meadville Lombard Theological School.

Also, this summer marked the retirement ceremony of our senior Unitarian Universalist Minister serving as a Military Chaplain, CH (COL) Vernon Chandler (2nd from left) after 32 years of military service as a chaplain.

Rev. Miller and Rev. Presley met with the Deputy Commandant of the Chaplain Center and School, attended a prayer breakfast organized by students of the school (and led by CH Tyger), toured Ft. Jackson and the Chaplain's Museum, as well as had in-depth discussions with CH Chandler, CH Tyger, and 2LT Pyle about the need for an increased liberal religious voice in our military chaplaincy.

UUMM would like to thank Beth Miller and Lisa Presley for their visit, and their dedication to this important ministry of our faith!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

UU's in the Military Workshop at General Assembly 2007

If you are going, or considering going to the UUA General Assembly in Portland Oregon from June 20th to the 24th, please join us at the following workshop entitled "Military and UUism: Respecting Inherent Worth?"

Workshop time: Saturday 10:45 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
Workshop title: #4023 Military and UUism: Respecting Inherent Worth?
Sponsored by: UUA Staff
Description: Congregations struggle to understand how to support military members and their families. Often times, our attitudes and/or behaviors inadvertently say to them, "You are not welcome." Why so? What can we do differently? We explore this reality, recent survey data on UU attitudes and real-lived experiences of UU military families.

Workshop leaders: Rev. Cynthia Kane, Dr. Vince Patton, Rev. Lisa Presley, and Rev. Beth Miller
For more information on General Assembly, Please visit the following link

Saturday, April 7, 2007


Hello Fellow UU's in the Military!

I have a few news items to share with you from Unitarian Universalist Military Ministries, about different developing events among our growing and burgeoning group of Military UU's.

First, I would like to offer welcome and congratulations to Rev. George Tyger, who has been selected to become a U.S. Army Chaplain with the rank of Captain. Rev. Tyger is currently the senior minister of the First Universalist Church of Rochester, NY. He will be attending the Chaplains training course at Ft. Jackson this summer, and will be going on Active Duty with the Army. Rev. Tyger is a prior service enlisted army soldier.

Second, I would like to update you all on the progress of the new policy initiative for how the UUA both endorses and supports our military chaplains and chaplaincy candidates. The draft policy has been approved by the Ministry and Professional Leadership Staff Group of the UUA, and will be officially unveiled at General Assembly. It involves a more structured application and approval process for endorsement as military chaplains, and approval for seminary students to participate in the Chaplain Candidate programs. It also calls for the creation of a new Committee on Military Ministry (CMM) within the UUA. The commitee will initially be chaired by Rev. Lisa Presley, and will coordinate the endorsement process, as well as provide regular contact and support to our serving military and federal chaplains and chaplaincy candidates. The membership of the Committee is being recruited by the UUA as we speak.

Third, I would like to point you all towards an article about myself and Maj. Seanan Holland that has appeared in yesterday's online edition of UU World, on the subject of military chaplain candidacy. http://www.uuworld.org/news/articles/22319.shtml

I'm sure that there are alot of other wonderful things going on out there, but I am going to try to post a quick article from UUMM every couple of months on developments at the UUA level in relation to the military and military ministry. If anyone has any news they would like to share with me, please do so at david@celestiallands.com .

Yours in Faith,
2LT David Pyle
USAR Chaplaincy Candidate
Student, Meadville Lombard Theological School

Friday, January 19, 2007

How does a UU become a Military Chaplain?

Though there is a long history of Unitarian and Universalist ministers serving as chaplains in the military, there are very few such chaplains right now. The reasons for this are varied, but the need for liberal religious chaplains in our military is greater now than ever.

If you are considering a call to the Unitarian Universalist ministry, consider if that ministry might not be found within the ranks of the military.

Right now, a policy working group is meeting, with the approval of the UUA Ministry and Professional Leadership Staff Group, to evaluate and re-draft the UUA policies on how military chaplains are endorsed and supported by the UUA. As this policy review is ongoing, the details of this reveiw are not currently available. But the following are the general outlines of how the process is likely to be conducted.

(That group has since completed its work, and the new policies can be found at http://www.uua.org/aboutus/professionalstaff/staff-appointedcommittees/militaryministry/index.shtml )

First, all UU Military Chaplains are required to fulfill all of the same requirements and standards of all Unitarian Universalist Ministers. This includes a Masters of Divinity degree, completion of a Clinical Pastoral Education course, and successful completion of the UUA Ministerial Fellowship process. For more information on these requirements, and how the process can be started, please visit the UUA Ministerial Credentialing Website.

There are two different ways to pursue receiving an endorsement as an ordained and fellowshipped UU Military Chaplain. These are the Chaplaincy Candidate Program, and direct endorsement as a Military Chaplain.

Each of the military services maintains a way to begin your training as a military chaplain while you are still pursuing your Masters of Divinity degree. These Chaplaincy Candidate Programs are supported by the UUA as a way to both discern your call to military chaplaincy, as well as to train and form for this ministry. Participation in this program means you spend your summers during seminary serving and training on active duty. Each military branch has a selection process for this program, and the UUA requires that you go through an associational approval process as well, including an application, essays on military chaplaincy, and possibly an in-person interview. Completion of the Chaplaincy Candidate program would allow the candidate to be considered for an endorsement to military chaplaincy after recieving fellowship.

If you have already received fellowship from the UUA, and wish to be considered for an endorsement to Military Chaplaincy, then the process will involve an application, a series of essays on the nature of military chaplaincy, an interview with a committe on military ministry to be designated by the UUA, and completion of any and all requirements of the military.

When the new policies for the endorsment and support of Military Chaplaincy are approved at General Assembly in 2007, UUMM will publicize them, and make the process described here more explicit. However, the idea of the policy review is to make the process more accessable, while at the same time maintaining a high level of standards for those called and endorsed to serve as Unitarian Universalist Military Chaplains. If you have specific questions, or are interested in pursuing a call to UU Military Chaplaincy, please contact uumil@uublog.org .

Websites of interest:

U.S. Army Chaplaincy Recruiting Website

U.S. Navy Chaplaincy Recruiting Website

U.S. Air Force Chaplaincy Recruiting Website

U.S. Coast Guard Chaplains Website

What does it mean to be a UU who serves in the military?

Just as there are many different ways in which all Unitarian Universalists find connection to our liberal religious faith, there are also many different reasons why some UU's find their vocation in the Military. These are a few of the more common answers to this question.

For some UU's the experiences they have had while serving in the military are what has brought them to their Unitarian Universalist faith. Serving overseas with the military will often bring someone face to face with war, with human rights abuses, with hatred, with poverty, and with the responsibility that we have to the rest of the world. For these military UU's, service in the military not only is the basis of their liberal faith, but can also be how they live their faith, by working through the military to address some of these global social concerns.

Some UU's who serve in the military find in that service an expression of the separation of Church and State, a touchstone of liberal religious faith. For these UU's their religious life is separate from their military career, and in doing so they are able to be ethical presences within the military in a way that maintains the essential authenticity they need in both their religious faith as well as in their military service.

Some military UU's find the motivation for their service in the belief that the military needs the diversity of liberal religious voices from many traditions, Unitarian Universalism among them. Without such voices, the military will find it difficult to live up to the standards of religious pluralism that is written into military policy and regulations. The only answer to the perception of the increase of conservative religious views within the military is for liberal religionists to be willing to serve.

There are many other reasons that a Unitarian Universalist might find their vocation in the military: they might have a family tradition of such service, they might have chosen to serve for the economic or education benefits, they might have chosen to serve because being a liberal and being a patriot can still be the same thing. For whatever the reason, many UU's find their life's vocation within the ranks of the Military, and UU Military Ministries is dedicated to supporting them on their religious path.

But, beyond those who serve on active duty or in the reserves, there are also many UU families who have military members serving, be they spouses, parents, or children. These families need support as well, especially in this time of war. Also, there are many more veterans in our congregations than might first be apparent, partially because it may not always be apparent to our UU Military Veterans that their military service is accepted within our congregations. In truth, we should be seeking to learn from the experience of these military veteran UU's in our congregations, while at the same time realizing that many of these veterans still carry spiritual and physical wounds from their time in military service. Our congregations need to learn to better minister to these veterans.

The next twenty years will see a spiritual crisis in the lives of the men and women serving in the current combat operations around the world, and Unitarian Universalism can present a healing message of love, community, and transformation in their lives and the lives of their families. Many UU's with experience in the military may find their call to ministry (ordained or not) in helping to minister to those returning from our current wars. If we are to address this need, Unitarian Universalism needs to turn to our veterans and equip them for this ministry.

These, among others, are some of the reasons for the importance of Unitarian Universlist Military ministries. If you are a serving military member, a veteran, or a spouse, then perhaps you would like to connect to other UU's in the military at http://uumilitaryblog.blogspot.com . If your congregation would like to start a military ministry, or already have one, please contact UUMM at uumil@uublog.org .

There is one other reason that some UU's serve in the military, including myself. And that is love. Not love of war, but of those women and men who choose to stand between their beloved homes and the desolation and hell that is war. That is my call to military ministry.

Yours in faith,

David Pyle
2LT, USAR Chaplaincy Candidate

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Great Lakes RTC Ministry Project

Beginning January 28th, 2007, students of the Meadville Lombard Theological School, in coordination with the UUMM and the Unitarian Church of Evanston, IL, will begin presenting Sunday morning UU worship services at the Great Lakes Naval Recruit Training Center in Great Lakes, Illinios.

Approximately 40,000 naval recruits per year train at the Great Lakes RTC, and the chapel on post presents over 30 worship services each and every Sunday. The goal of the Great Lakes Ministry Project is not only to provide UU services for sailors who are already UU's, but also to provide an opportunity for those interested in our faith to attend UU Worship, and to learn more about our movement of religious liberalism. This project presents us with the opportunity to reach more than 1,000 young women and men per year with a message of Unitarian Univeralsim.

The project also provides for our Meadville Lombard seminary students valuable experience at the practical aspects of ministry, leading worship, and chaplaincy. Funded initially by collections taken at the Unitarian Church of Evanston, the students donate their time, only receiving reimbursement for travel and worship material costs.

If you would like to see some of the worship services and sermons that are being presented at the Great Lakes Recruit Training Center, then please visit The Military Chapel Services section of Celestial Lands.

We will be putting the services presented by David Pyle into that blog/journal. We will post links to the services of other project members as they become available.

If you are interested in learing more about the Great Lakes Ministry Project, or you would like to support the continuance of the project, please contact David Pyle through the UUMM website.

Welcome to the Unitarian Universalist Military Ministries Website!

Welcome to the new home of Military Ministries for the Unitarian Universalist Association!

This website serves as a way for Unitarian Universalist Chaplains, the future UU Committee on Military Ministry, and UU Military Chaplaincy Candidates to share information with our movement of religious liberalism about issues relating to UU'ism and the military. While our Chaplains will post here, we do ask that all communication with UUMM be through this website. As we have so few serving UU Military Chaplains, allowing communication to go through UUMM allows our chaplains to focus on serving the needs of our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines.

This website is also the home for several ongoing projects of UU Military Ministry, allowing those UUMM Project Associates to share information with other religious liberals on the opportunities and challenges of those projects.

Also, if you are considering serving both your faith and your country as a UU Military Chaplain, there are articles and information available on this website to assist you in decerning if this is your call to ministry. Please, if you are considering such a call, contact UUMM so we can begin to build a relationship with you.

This website is partnered with the UU's in the Military website, found at www.uumilitaryblog.blogspot.com, so if you are a veteran, active duty or reserve servicemember, military spouse or family, or DoD employee, please consider becoming a contributor to that forum.

Thank you very much for your interest in UU military ministry!

Yours in Faith,

David Pyle
2LT, USAR Chaplaincy Candidate

UU Military Ministries