Division West serves up humor at prayer breakfast
March 11, 2013
FORT HOOD, Texas -- Some say breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It energizes the body, improves concentration, and boosts the mind and spirit.
First Army Division West leaders put these factors to good use in a prayer breakfast at Theodore Roosevelt Dining Facility here March 4.
"I'm going to have a great day and more to come because of the sermon," said Sylvia Phipps, wife of Maj. Gen. Warren Phipps Jr., Division West's commanding general. "It was great for the Soldiers and I think it helped with the division's camaraderie."
The morning's events began with approximately 85 participants eating breakfast and singing devotional hymns and songs.
The speaker at the breakfast was Dr. Dennis Swanberg, a Christian comedian and former evangelical pastor, also known as "America's Minister of Encouragement."
"I felt a kinship, and I felt like I was at home being around the Soldiers of Division West," Swanberg said.
Whenever you speak to a group, you have to try to size up your audience and make them feel at ease, said Swanberg, also called "The Swan."
"I use humor to get the message across. The Bible says, 'A merry heart doeth good like a medicine, but a broken spirit drieth the bones,'" Swanberg said.
Swanberg tailored his message specifically the Division West Soldiers, playing off the "first" in First Army Division West.
"It was good to assure them that there are more 'firsts' to come and that God loves them," said Swanberg.
Laughter and smiles filled the room as "The Swan" spoke about his memories as a child. He also talked about his father's experiences as a Soldier on Fort Hood, known then as Camp Hood.
Some of the Soldiers in attendance were both surprised and comforted by the sermon.
"The prayer breakfast was awesome and it wasn't what I expected. The laughter was excellent and was what everyone needed at that time," said Col. Deborah Stolze, Division West chief of personnel and administration. "I think it was perfect timing, and the words were a blessing for the day and will be for months to come."
It wasn't the typical, more serious prayer breakfast, but it was a success, said Chap. (Lt. Col.) Kenneth Sorenson, Division West chaplain.
"The division needs to be able to laugh, come together and share a few moments of levity," Sorenson said. "Sometimes healing can't happen until people let some of the walls down, and humor was a good medium to do that."