Change of stole ceremony welcomes new Division West chaplain
December 18, 2012
FORT HOOD, Texas -- Change of command and change of responsibility ceremonies are routine in the Army. The coming and going of leaders will always be a part of our military. However, First Army Division West recently recognized a change of leadership with a less-than-routine ceremony.
Soldiers in the division bid farewell to their spiritual leader in a Change of Stole and retirement ceremony at the 25th Street Chapel near division headquarters here Dec. 14.
"It was a distinct honor and privilege to host this particular ceremony," said Maj. Gen. Perry Wiggins, Division West commanding general.
Transferring the stole -- a long, plain, black cloth worn around the neck -- is similar to a command's leadership passing the unit's guidon during a change of command ceremony.
"The changing of the stole symbolizes the transference of spiritual leadership and responsibility from one chaplain to the other," said Chap. (Lt. Col.) Randy Edwards, out-going Division West chaplain. "It signifies God's hand on this position."
The ceremony is an important event, and it can be met with some melancholy emotions.
"Ceremonies like these are bittersweet, unfortunately, because you have to say goodbye to someone," Wiggins said.
Wiggins conducted the Change of Stole by transferring it from Edwards to the new Division West chaplain.
"It's an awesome responsibility to take care of Soldiers and Families," said Chap. (Lt. Col.) Kenneth Sorenson, incoming Division West chaplain. "We don't treat it lightly, but we are overjoyed to be here."
His enthusiasm was shared by his wife.
"We're happy to be back at the 'Great Place'," said Patrice Sorenson. "We feel like God has brought us here for a really big purpose and we are looking forward to seeing what happens."
Following the Change of Stole ceremony, Edwards' 21-year military career was brought to a close.
"It was a joy to be able to publicly acknowledge the support that has made this possible," Edwards said. "I trust God that the experiences we've had at Division West will prepare us for our next ministry opportunity."
The change from Soldier to civilian is not only felt by the service member but by his Family as well.
"It took me a long time to get excited but now that I'm here, I'm looking forward to what God has in store for us," said Bobbi Edwards, Edwards' wife. "This has been our life for so long and it will be missed."
The Sorensons are looking forward to being part of the Division West team, said Patrice Sorenson.
"I'm trusting God to lead and guide us here," Chap. Sorenson said. "I'm excited about being in Division West and back at Fort Hood."