Did you know that the LCMS provides care to our military families in two ways?
First, we provide chaplains to our Armed Forces. God’s good gifts are given to His children who wear our country’s uniform – and their families throughout the world – by military chaplains.
Second, we train and equip congregations across our nation to provide care to military families in your neighborhood! We offer such care to all “military connected” people. That means family and friends of our military, both those who are currently serving in uniform and our veterans.
When congregations are so equipped, the potential ministry impact is unlimited. One English District congregation, Catalina Lutheran Church in Tucson, AZ , has mobilized for action and is making a difference in the lives of military families there. They have partnered with local veterans’ organizations to participate in a “stand- down,” where homeless veterans are given access to healthcare, substance abuse counseling, and other life skills. The stand-down is but one outreach among many at Catalina Lutheran Church. The Reverend Michael Morehouse, Pastor of Catalina Lutheran, also serves as a member of the Operation Barnabas Advisory Group, which seeks to share best practices and guidance to Synod’s Ministry to the Armed Forces.
Congregations can participate in one of two levels in Operation Barnabas. The first level is an Operation Barnabas congregation. This level is “congregationally-based,” and is focused on offering care to members of the congregation, and those within its sphere of influence. Others might include family members and friends of congregational members. In order to participate as an Operation Barnabas congregation, churches must:
1) Remember military and their families in prayer;
2) Recognize military members in the congregation annually; and
3) Hold a “Ministry to the Armed Forces” Sunday.
These events serve military and their families in the congregation, and also share the story of what our Church does on a national level to care for military families.
Congregations can choose to participate at another level, that of “Operation Barnabas Chapter.” This level is both congregationally-based, and community-based. In addition to the requirements for an Operation Barnabas congregation, a chapter meets on a regular basis and seeks out opportunities for service in the community. This may mean working with other Veteran Service Organizations to provide care and support to our military families. A chapter holds at least one community-based project or outreach event each year.
Many congregations are already doing this work. If your church is in that number, congratulations, and thank you for your service! We would love to recognize your work, so please contact us! If your church has not yet begun this work, just contact us and we can walk with you to begin such work in your community. Our military members and their families have given so much for our country…and this is an opportunity to share our support.
However, the most important gift we have to share is not our gratitude, nor acts of mercy, however well-intended. The most important gift we seek to place in the hands of military families is the precious Gospel. Please pray that the Lord would enable Operation Barnabas to proclaim the sure and clear message of Jesus Christ! And contact us today to learn how to take part in this work; or, if you are already providing care to military families, please tell us your story, and allow us to share your experience with others so that they, too, can learn from you!
For more information contact:
Chaplain Mike Moreno
Project Manager, Operation Barnabas