Three into one: Protestant services merge
By Airman 1st Class Daniel Blackwell, 20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published July 17, 2012
SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- Three, separate Shaw chapel Protestant services (gospel, traditional and contemporary) will merge into one "praise service" starting October 7, chaplains announded.
Chaplain (Maj.) Matthew Boarts, 20th Fighter Wing deputy wing chaplain, explained that combining services frees up staff time so chaplains can focus on other issues Airmen, Soldiers and family members may have, and help solve them. "A worship service takes more than what you see on Sunday morning," Boarts added. "Typically each requires around 21 hours of preparation a week.
"We're working very hard to ensure we accommodate everyone with the new service," Boarts said. "We're getting input from all the current (services): gospel, traditional, contemporary and liturgical, so we can be very intentional about giving each one a voice."
There will be elements of each style and type of music to ensure that everyone has a chance to praise the way they prefer, Boarts explained.
"My role will be to see that 'warrior care' remains a top priority for the chaplain corps, and is not threatened but enhanced by the combining of the services," said Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Richard Fitzgerald, 20th FW wing chaplain. "One primary task of the wing chaplain is to either provide or provide for, the free and fair exercise of religion for all our military members."
Warrior care ensures that Airmen and Soldiers are taken care of in every area of their life, physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually, Fitzgerald explained.
"Dealing with change is never an easy thing," he continued. "However, a single service will build a better sense of community, as well as a better foundation to minister to the active duty population at Shaw."
For those who feel the new service is not for them, the chapel staff is dedicated to helping them find another church home in the surrounding community that suits their needs.
The chapel staff is committed and ready to refer individuals to respective congregations in the surrounding area. The community offers worship in each of the musical styles currently offered on base and more, Fitzgerald said.
"We offer a wide variety of programs through the chapel," explained Staff Sgt. Sandra Alvor-Thrash, 20th FW chaplain assistant and NCOIC of chapel training and readiness.
Information on upcoming events and the programs can be found by visiting www.shawchapel.org.
Alvor-Thrash explained that she avidly supports Airman and Soldiers utilizing the resources offered to them through the chapel, such as counseling.
Aside from counseling, the chapel offers a number of programs and services to Team Shaw.
The wing chapel and Team Shaw often cooperate on many projects such as the monthly deployed family dinner, which would be lost if not for the pairing down of the services, explained Boarts.
The dinners are designed to offer a warm, welcoming environment for family members, friends and spouses of deployed Airmen and Soldiers. This program began in the Palmetto Chapel annex, but quickly grew in size, requiring a larger facility to house attendees. As it grew, the event held every 4th Monday of the month was moved to the Carolinas Skies Club.
As it continued to grow, the Airman and Family Readiness Center began to provide support for the event, as well as local churches and installation organizations such as, the Red Cross, Family Advocacy Program and the Rising 4 (to name a few).
"There are many programs offered through the chapel and we hope to touch and help many Airmen and Soldiers through them," Alvor-Thrash concluded. "The combined services will give us the perfect opportunity to do this."