By Jeremy Henderson, Army Flier Staff WriterMarch 24, 2017
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Questions of faith can often be difficult to answer, but four Fort Rucker Army Chaplains hope to cut through the confusion during an upcoming panel.
The chaplains panel, which will address a number of questions with faith-based answers, takes place March 26 at 10:30 a.m. at Wings Chapel and is open to the public.
"Our congregation is made up of all Christian faith groups from Catholic to various Protestant and even people who have never attended church. I would consider them 'seekers,'" Chaplain (Maj.) Collie Foster, Wings Crossroads Chapel senior pastor, said. "So, with that in mind, it was actually Chaplain (Capt.) Ray Sherwin's brainchild. He thought about it -- why couldn't we do something that would allow the congregation to ask those burning questions that they've maybe thought about all their life or that one question that has really been barrier that's kept them from making a step toward Christianity as their faith?"
Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Timothy Bedsole, deputy garrison chaplain, said the panel seeks to strengthen spiritual resiliency with the community.
"There is a lot of talk of spiritual resiliency in the Army," he said. "This is the foundation of spiritual resiliency. We are rooting that resiliency with faith-based answers based on the Bible and what Christians believe. It is all an effort to build resiliency within the Army."
Sherwin, associate pastor, said the goal was to provide a deepened understanding of scripture's answers to common questions.
"The goal of this is to get beyond the pet theologies that are espoused in so many of the social media forums where people post a quote and there is no depth behind it," he said. "We really want to expose them, from a Christian perspective, to what scripture says about these issues.
"Many of the questions we have received are specific to things within our culture," he added. "Why does God allow tragedy to happen to good people? As a combat Aviator, how do I reconcile taking life with my Christian walk? They're very burning and relevant questions we've received, but there are also some deep matters of faith such as the deep meanings or scripture and 'where is God when it hurts?' It gives our congregation an opportunity to dialogue with us through these questions. It also gives us an opportunity for us to share, from a scriptural basis, what Christianity has in these different areas."
Members of the Wings Crossroads Chapel congregation were asked to drop questions into a sealed box over the course of three weeks. According to Foster, more than 20 questions were deposited into the box and will help guide the course of discussion during the panel.
"It allowed everyone to anonymously contribute their questions," Foster said. "Each pastor took several of the questions so that we could spend time with them ahead of the panel."
According to Foster, the panel will take place during slightly ahead of Sunday's usual 10:45 a.m. worship service and will include an abbreviated worship to allow time to address all of the questions.
"Right now we have enough questions to occupy a good 45 minutes or more," he said. "There probably will not be room at the end for questions from the audience. What we would like is to plan something down the road to do this again.
"We have a wide variety of faith backgrounds in our congregation," he added. "Our congregation tends to be made up of (advanced individual training students), warrant officer candidates, flight students, etc. Our congregation is very fluid. Every four to five weeks, we have a new group coming through."
Chaplain (Capt.) Joe Sherwin echoed Foster's sentiment and added that attendees of the contemporary service at Crossroads tend to be younger Soldiers and family members.
"We have the most diverse congregation on post and, with the transient nature of our population, they tend to be very young" he said.
"Since we are a contemporary service, we tend to cater to the young adult," Foster said. "They are accustomed to the more upbeat contemporary Christian style of music."
Sherwin emphasized the panel's intent to be an open, honest dialogue for anyone seeking to deepen their faith or gain a better understanding of Christianity.
"So often we have accepted things because of tradition," Chaplain (Capt.) Ray Davidson said. "But where is the truth in it, according to God's word? I think that is part of our main goal -- to give the truth from God's word."