McChord’s chapel staff offers spiritual renewal

  • Published
  • By Tyler Hemstreet
  • 62nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
While the primary focus of chapel services is hosting religious services at McChord, the chapel staff's effort and message often extend well beyond the pews and the building's steeple. 

The chapel staff prides itself on serving Airmen at home and while deployed, with their main focus being to serve as counselors to those in need. 

"In that sense of one-on-one interaction, the most significant thing we do isn't on Sunday morning," said Chaplain (Maj.) Bruce Marshall, 62nd Airlift Wing. 

The chapel hosts networking events such as Mothers of Preschoolers and deployed family member get-togethers to help Airmen and their families meet others in the same situation as well as find out about the services available to them, said Chaplain (Capt.) Kathy Scott, 62nd AW. 

The events give chapel staff the opportunity to lend their support to family members who are on the other side of deployments, said Chaplain (Maj.) Larry Bailey, 62nd AW. 

"We try to help Airmen put a name to a face with a place," Chaplain Scott said. "That way it helps open up lines of communication -- it makes the chapel less intimidating for them." 

It's all part of a coordinated effort to interact with people in comfortable situations where there is an opportunity for chaplains to reach out, said Chaplain Bailey. 

"We try to take advantage of certain situations that people allow other people to see you as a regular person in a real situation," Chaplain Bailey said. 

The same mentality applies when each chaplain is deployed. 

Chaplain Bailey said gravitating toward popular locations such as the dining facility, and helping load and unload supplies from airplanes helps break down barriers with Airmen. 

"Just being there has an impact," he said. 

But while there are ample opportunities to reach out to Airmen, he said being deployed can also bring on a new set of challenges for both Airmen and chaplains. 

"[Deployments] can be extremely intense," Chaplain Bailey said. 

Some Airmen want to shy away from religion and church because it reminds them of their families, said Chaplain Bailey. Others develop an intense desire for spiritual nurturing, he said. 

"You just have to adapt," he said. "You just have to be very careful with what you say. My top priority is to make the chapel a safe place." 

That means having respect for all divisions of faith, said Chaplain Marshall. 

"We incorporate the spiritual aspect -- that doesn't necessarily mean Christianity," he said. 

While the chaplain staff acknowledges that the work at home is important, they say they feel the most needed in the deployed locations. 

"The work is extra fulfilling there because all the administrative office work is dropped -- there are more opportunities to take time and talk to Airmen," Chaplain Bailey said. 

"Sometimes it's the pits coming back because you're away from people's needs."