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

A Salute to Chaplain Dale Goetz, KIA

It has happened many times, where a fellow UU or a ministerial colleague takes me aside and asks me if this military chaplaincy “thing” is really something I want to do. When I explore it with them, where their anxiety is coming from, it almost always centers around their concern for my safety. Sometimes it is because they are a friend… other times it is because they have hopes for me in the future… other times it is a combination of a lot of reasons. But they are anxious about my serving, and often don’t know what to do with that.

So, I try to ease their anxiety. I tell them that though I will not have a weapon, I will be with a lot of soldiers who will be working to keep me safe. I tell them about having a Chaplain Assistant, who is kinda like a high-speed church administrator… with an M-4 rifle. I tell them about all my years of military training, and of how I have a pretty good idea how to protect myself on the battlefield. I tell them that I will not be at the very front lines… but most likely I will be with the command team or the medical aid station.

And, I tell them that with all the combat over the last several years, no chaplain has been killed in action since 1970.

Sadly, and with a great sense of loss, I can no longer use that to allay their fears. On Monday, August 30th, 2010, Chaplain Captain Dale Goetz was killed in action by an improvised bomb in Afghanistan. He was one of five soldiers killed in that attack. He was a Baptist Minister from South Dakota. By all reports he was an excellent Chaplain, and loved his calling. I never met him. My heart goes out to his family and friends.
Xanax best is great. It quickly begins to act. There comes a visible relief after 15-20 minutes.

I have said before that ministry is dangerous. If there is not some danger in ministry, then perhaps it is not ministry. When Jesus challenged the hypocrisy of the Jewish leaders of his time, that was dangerous ministry. When the Buddha confronted a serial killer, that was dangerous ministry. Some ministry is physically dangerous, and some is spiritually and psychologically dangerous. Asking people to trust you and allow you into their lives is dangerous. We prepare for it, we train for it, and we look for ways to mitigate it… but ministry is dangerous.

I salute Chaplain Goetz for his faith, for his calling, for his ministry, and for his sacrifice. No matter what one might think about this war or that, this man of God was there for the troops, and he and his family have paid the ultimate cost for that commitment. My heart, for one, is with them.

Yours in faith,

Rev. David

5 Thoughts on “A Salute to Chaplain Dale Goetz, KIA

  1. I’ll say a prayer for Chaplain Goetz tonight. When I was in the IZ spring of 2008 I noticed Church services were prime time for rocket attacks. I avoided services. The Chaplains kept serving though interrupted many times by the c-ram… they were a brave bunch of men and women. Don’t sell your choice of duty short here David when it comes to exposing yourself to fire.

  2. One of my seminary classmates was a former chaplain assistant who found a call to ministry while serving in that role.

  3. Patrick McLaughlin on Saturday September 4, 2010 at 11:49 +0000 said:

    Condolences to Chaplain Goetz’s family.

    What you point to, David, is the temptation to turn towards safety. We want safety and security. We want those we know and care about to be safe and secure, too.

    And yet that turn towards safety, in ministry, seems to abandon the very soul of its greatest need and purpose. It is precisely that it is *needed* most where it is not safe and secure–and that where things are safe and secure, those ministering need to be pushing boundaries that may make them insecure in their livelihoods.

    If it doesn’t feel a bit scary… maybe we’re not doing it right.

    The holy has long, long, long been identified with words like awe-full, and terrible… and triggers emotions which include panic. That’s the surf we’re called to body surf in. I think. And sometimes…

    Be well!

  4. Rebecca Crystal on Sunday September 5, 2010 at 10:01 +0000 said:

    My response to anyone serving is thank you. Thank you. The danger you face is more clearly defined, but it is possible that if I speak truth to power that I will be killed.

  5. Chaplain Goetz was a fine man. A husband, father, soldier, and above all a devout Christian. On the eve of 9/11 he reached out to a Roman Catholic friend who had married a Muslim man. Although in agreement with many shared beliefs regarding… a Supreme Being (God or Allah), Dale could not reconcile the Muslim man’s belief that dying a martyr was the best way to enter heaven and receive forgiveness from sin. As Dale related a couple of years ago, ” … Though I disagree with their practice, I do understand their complaints against western society. Doctrinally, I don’t agree with their method of receiving forgiveness from sin. I believe Christ died for my sin and I do not need to become a martyr for salvation and forgiveness. Because of my conversation on the night before, I was better able to process and understand the why of 9-11 and it continues to help me understand the on going struggles in Iraq, Afghanistan, and around the world.”

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