Celestial Lands The Religious Crossroads of Politics, Power, and Theology

18 Thoughts on “Ministry is Dangerous

  1. In the UP? Glad you got settled into something.

  2. What a powerful message. Thank you for sharing your experience and blessings upon your powerful ministry.

  3. Thank you…

    Bill, not the UP (although that would have been fun, I love the UP). I will be serving as the Interim Minister for the UU Fellowship of Midland, Michigan. It also looks like I will be the Battalion Chaplain of a unit in Southfield, Michigan, although that is still jumping through all the appropriate hoops.

    Yours in faith,


  4. Amen! And, as the grandson and nephew of Navy veterans, I’m glad you’re providing this service to the military. Keep on carrying on.


  5. Good luck to you there David with both endeavors…

  6. Donald Wilton on Saturday July 24, 2010 at 14:46 +0000 said:

    Congratulations on achieving your goal of becoming a military chaplain. I had thought that you might end up in a reserve capacity since there are a lot more UUs trying to be ministers than there are churches both in civilian life and in the military. I hope that you can find a way to use the time to your advantage. I think that trying to serve as a chaplain is a noble calling and that you will do well. Part of the desire to see you do well in a civilian post for me, is the perception I have of your rhetorical abilities that depend upon your military stance. I hope that you can find deployment to either Iraq or Afghanistan so that you can practice as you have preached.

  7. Thanks for this thoughtful piece!

  8. I think it is wonderful that you are going into military chaplaincy. My father was in the Navy and I have spent many years on bases. I will always have a soft spot for those who serve our country. I very much like your thoughts about how ministry is dangerous. I couldn’t agree more.

  9. Along the way to becoming UU, I passed through the Episcopal Church by way of a military chaplain. This was during the ’80s and at that time there was a Bishop for the Armed Forces to represent those of us who didn’t have a ‘home parish’ but called ‘home’ wherever in the world we were stationed. At that time, it was a big controversy in among Episcopals… did having a Bishop for the Armed Forces indicate church approval of the military and by extension, of war and aggression?

    The position eventually went away, which was a disappointment to me and to others who were both religiously liberal *and* affiliated with the military. I cannot think of a place more in need of religious liberals than within the Armed Forces. I often wondered who would wish a military that has no conception of the ideas and questions raised by the more liberal wing of religious thought?

    All of which is a roundabout way of saying that while i understand the wishes those around you have that you might have taken another path, I am very grateful that you have chosen to serve those who often feel bereft by both the ties of ‘home’ and church. No matter what the denomination, I have found military chaplains to be among the finest religious teachers I’ve ever known. Thank you for your service and know that the people you touch for only a brief time will remember you and what you bring to them forever.

  10. David: One of the things I am learning as I continue this path of ministry is that we are called to live a life of integrity, to live any less than that is to miss our calling. Whenever a person insists on living a life of integrity, there are always people, well-meaning people, people we love with our whole hearts, who will try to convince the person to veer off course.

    As I have gotten to know you these past many years I have learned that you are a person of integrity. Your convictions are built on solid ground. I cannot imagine you doing anything else with your life than that which drives you with such a single heart in purpose. Might that we all live our lives with such integrity and conviction.
    Blessings on your journey,

  11. Welcome to the dangers of Interim Ministry, David . . . and thank you for putting such eloquent words to the reality of ministry being a dangerous calling. Blessings on your journey, and may you find support and encouragement for your ministry however YOU discern your call . . . your gifts are needed in so many ways.

  12. Marcia Marino on Tuesday July 27, 2010 at 12:54 +0000 said:

    Thanks, David, for your thoughtful and articulate sharing about your ministry. You have much to offer to those you serve. As a former VA chaplain, I can identify with your passion to serve those who place themselves in harm’s way on behalf of others. Best wishes for your interim ministry.
    Marcia Marino

  13. Keith Wright on Tuesday July 27, 2010 at 15:02 +0000 said:

    I came to this page to read what David had to say and at the end, found words from someone who was there at the beginning of my current spiritual path, Maureen Killoran, my former minister in Asheville, NC (and to whom I will forever be in her debt for the care she gave when I was very ill…thank you again, Maureen).

    David, I can think of no place where you are needed more than on the front-lines. So many who serve in that capacity are conflicted because of their spiritual upbringing clashes with what they see in war. (I know you know this) You are uniquely qualified to deflect the anger away from God and to help to alleviate the confusion by placing God in a different light and may help them to cope in ways they never thought of.

    I can think of few situations where your talents would be better served.


  14. Keith,

    Thank you for your words, and for being there at the beginning of my path into and through ministry. It is amazing to see those connections between us.

    I would love to talk sometime, to see how you are. rev.pyle at gmail.com.

    Yours in Faith,


  15. I am sure that God will bless you in this new role – it is dangerous – but to be where God wants you is what it is all about. After 12 years as a military chaplain I can assure you it is cutting edge ministry, it is neither easier or harder – just different. But you will only survive if you stay in close contact with the Lord, and gather around you a good support network.

    Chaplain Ian Whitley

  16. Great essay. Another commenter said it, the most compelling reason to become a military chaplain is that you are needed there. That’s where your call is coming from. Did any of the people that you paraphrase here say anything about that? Did they read your posts about serving the Great Lakes base?

    Ministry is dangerous. What a great message! All change comes from within. I hope it echos to ministers of all faiths.

    Reading today’s articles about the Army’s suicide report, I saw that one of the recommendations is to hire 72 more chaplains. I hope you get one! 1,700 soldiers attempted suicide last year. There are so many hurting people that need help.

  17. I am going to be honest. Any feelings that I have in the negative about you being deployed are 100% selfish. I wished it would not happen because I would keep you here if I could. I would wish you here to avoid the grief I will feel when you leave MI and if your passion takes your life…boy that would be hard on ME. I cannot however, wish you anything but to live the life in which you are living your passion. If you die young I hope you are happy knowing that you did much good in this world and that you do not ever regret the path not taken. Trying to live live deprived of your passion is a road I would not wish anyone I care about to travel. You are a light in this world and you must then head into the dark.

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