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

Straddling Worlds

This past week, I have been both serving on Active Duty for Training (ADT) as a U.S. Army Chaplain Candidate, and serving as the Summer Minister for the Unitarian Church of Evanston, IL. In the mornings, I get up early, sit Zen meditation, and then put on my Army Combat Uniform (the digital camouflage one). I then either drive or take the train two hours to a military base, where I am “covering down” on the Chaplain Recruiting Office for the North Central region of the United States. I answer phones, sort data, and contact fellow Chaplain Candidates about where they are in the process of becoming Army Chaplains. In the process, I am learning about the role that Chaplain’s play as recruiters, making sure that this ministry is available as a calling for ministers and seminarians of many different denominations and faiths. Next week I will even be doing some visits to seminaries in the local Chicago area.

I then leave the base around 5, and then either drive or take the train to the Unitarian Church of Evanston, where I check my messages, make a few phone calls to members, plan my order of service, and even facilitate pre-marital counseling and wedding service planning for a couple of our church. Both last Sunday and this coming Sunday, I am preaching at the church. Next weekend I am officiating a wedding with a local Rabbi.

I am also still dedicating some hours each week to my District staff position.

As I was driving home last night, I first began thinking about how much this was to do… It does seem to be a lot. And yet, I feel energized and active… I woke up this morning, my one morning to sleep in, at 7am.

It also struck me that this is not that different an experience of ministry to that of many clergy colleagues from smaller evangelical, Pentecostal, and African-American churches. I remember speaking with some of the African-American pastors who would come to the hospital I was serving as a Chaplain-Intern. They would preach every Sunday, they would lead bible study, and they would visit the sick and pray with the needy… and they worked full-time jobs in factories and offices to support their families, because the church did not pay them very much at all. They approached their work and their vocation with great joy and energy, because the work allowed them to practice their vocation.

It came to me what a blessing it is, one that I have in the past taken for granted, to be able to have my work be my vocation… either in a civilian congregation or in the military. It is a gift that not all ministers find… and I am grateful for it. I hope that I am able to continue to dedicate myself to my ministries with the fullness that this gift allows.

Thank you,

Yours in Faith,


One Thought on “Straddling Worlds

  1. You must really love what you are doing and you must have a very understanding wife! 🙂

    It’s good to hear how things are progressing for you David.

    Best wishes,

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