Prayer breakfast offers food, fellowship for Camp Zama community
Sgt. Maj. Edward Baptist, the chief religious affairs noncommissioned officer for U.S. Army Pacific, bows his head in prayer during the National Prayer Breakfast held April 18 at the Camp Zama Community Club on Camp Zama, Japan.

The event drew more than 100 people for a morning of food, fellowship, music and prayer. Chaplain (Col.) Gary Fisher, the USARPAC command chaplain, served as the guest speaker at the event. (Photo Credit: Dustin Perry, U.S. Army Garrison Japan Public Affairs)
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CAMP ZAMA, Japan – The guest speaker at Camp Zama’s National Prayer Breakfast said all the elements that made up the event—the food, the fellowship, the music, the prayer time—are vital to promoting a strong and healthy community.

Speaking at the Camp Zama Community Club Monday morning, Chaplain (Col.) Gary Fisher, the U.S. Army Pacific command chaplain, called it a thrill to have been invited to attend and speak at the event.

“This is the first time in a very long time that the community has been able to support a National Prayer Breakfast,” Fisher said, referring to past cancellations due to COVID-19. “It’s an incredible honor to be here for this event with such a great organization.”

In his welcoming remarks following the invocation, Col. Christopher L. Tomlinson, commander of U.S. Army Garrison Japan, told the more than 100 people in attendance about the history of the event in America. In 1952, President Harry S. Truman signed a bill into law proclaiming the National Day of Prayer, which President Ronald Reagan amended in 1988, designating the day be observed on the first Thursday of May.

“It is also important to note that the Army places a high value on religious accommodations and our Soldiers’ rights to observe the tenets of their respective religions,” Tomlinson said. “As members of the Army family, we are diverse in practices, but united in purpose.”

Prayer breakfast offers food, fellowship for Camp Zama community
Attendees fill their plates with food during the National Prayer Breakfast held April 18 at the Camp Zama Community Club on Camp Zama, Japan.

The event drew more than 100 people for a morning of food, fellowship, music and prayer. Chaplain (Col.) Gary Fisher, the USARPAC command chaplain, served as the guest speaker at the event. (Photo Credit: Dustin Perry, U.S. Army Garrison Japan Public Affairs)
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Attendees helped themselves to scrambled eggs, potatoes, bacon, sausage and French toast and ate their meal to the accompaniment of music from the U.S. Army Japan Band.

Community members from different faiths and walks of life being able to share a meal together is a large part of what makes the prayer breakfast a beneficial event, Fisher said.

“I’m from the South, and food is absolutely integral to who we are as human beings,” he said. “There are things that happen around the dinner table—conversations and connections—that can’t happen any other place. To sit down at a table and enjoy a delicious meal with those that we may or may not know, it’s incredibly important.”

Different command chaplains offered various prayers after the meal—for families, for peace, the armed forces and the nation—before Fisher was introduced.

The chaplain’s remarks focused on the idea of contentment. He urged those in the audience to choose to learn how to be content amidst life’s circumstances, issues and challenges.

“I think sometimes we get stuck,” Fisher said, referring to those challenges. “The important message to take away from today is that you can ‘un-stuck’ yourself by choosing to understand what contentment is and choosing contentment in spite of the circumstances you find yourself in.”

The message resonated with first-time attendee Shannon Hutchinson, who said it is something she can take with her and apply to her life and work every day. From Fisher’s remarks, Hutchinson said she learned that a person can “be satisfied without things or pieces of things … fulfillment oftentimes happens from within.”

Hutchinson, assigned to U.S. Army Japan G-1, said she appreciated the event for bringing the community closer together and for welcoming people of all faiths and even those who don’t consider themselves religious.

“It is a great opportunity to hear words, to hear a message, to hear something I wouldn’t normally hear,” Hutchinson said. “It involves our community and it’s about prayer, so you can’t go wrong.”

Chaplain (Capt.) Chris Dorsey, the 311th Military Intelligence Battalion chaplain, offered the Prayer to the Nation during the breakfast. He lauded the event for creating the opportunity for a community fatigued by COVID restrictions to rebuild a sense of togetherness.

“It’s important to have chances for the community to come back together … [and] to get to know one another,” Dorsey said. “I think the prayer breakfast was an awesome chance to do that, [and] to thank God not only for the things that have gone well, but for getting through the challenges that we’ve been facing and continue to face.”

Fisher agreed, saying that having faith and living the principles of one’s beliefs are two ways to deal with those challenges. Events like the prayer breakfast help to emphasize that, he said.

“[These events allow us] to be able to understand and know God, to have a relationship with him and with each other,” Fisher said. “And even without [considering] faith … this whole program allows us, as a people, to come together and to focus on something outside of ourselves.”

Related links:

Army Chaplain Corps

U.S. Army Pacific