ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. – Monthly chapel services are now available here, island chaplains have announced.
Traditionally, chaplains from the major commands on post would hold a Christmas and Easter service for RIA employees and residents.
But now, a new service – officially named the “The Rock” Island Worship Service -- is held monthly in Building 60, Heritage Hall, on Sunday mornings beginning at 11 a.m. and lasting one hour. It is open to anyone wishing to attend. The next service is July 10.
The schedule will vary monthly based on not having services during holiday weekends. Emails will be sent out notifying the workforce of the next service date.
According to Command Chaplain (Col.) Kevin Forrester, First U.S. Army, the name is a play on words utilizing the name of the arsenal (Rock Island Arsenal) and a well-known passage from the Bible in the Gospel of St. Matthew, chapter 16, where Jesus tells Peter “He will build His Church on the ‘Rock’ of Peter’s confession of faith.”
“In essence, Jesus is telling His original audience and believers of today that He is the foundation of the Church,” Forrester said.
The service is much like other services where a sermon is given along with live music consisting usually of three songs played by Chaplain (Maj.) Robert Gibbs, Plans and Operations chaplain, First U.S. Army, on acoustic guitar, accompanied by Forrester’s wife, Myra, on electric piano, and a RIA Army Civilian on acoustic guitar, with attendees singing along.
Fellowship, with doughnuts and coffee, is provided after the service.
The idea for a monthly service was initiated right after the Easter sunrise service held April 17, explained Forrester.
“The service this year was attended by the RIA senior mission commander [Maj. Gen. Chris Mohan, commanding general, U.S. Army Sustainment Command] and his wife,” Forrester said. “Seeing that the service was meeting a need for the community, he wanted to establish an ongoing service. So he directed his [command] chaplain, Lt. Col. Kevin Niehoff, to start a monthly community worship service to see if it would fill a need for those living and working on RIA.”
Several attendees at the Easter service said they did not attend service elsewhere, Niehoff said.
“There has not been a regular Sunday service on post in a long time so we began a monthly service in order for those who live on post to have an opportunity to worship as a community but all – whether on post or off – are welcome to attend,” he said.
The service is non-denominational with sermons designed to provide people hope, encouragement, comfort, and peace, Forrester said.
Because there hasn’t been a routine service at RIA in a long time, RIA personnel over time have gone elsewhere for their religious services. Hence, like starting a business, people are encouraged to give this service a try.
“As noted, there has not been a service here in some time. It is always difficult to get a service started and this will be no exception,” Niehoff said. “The population on Rock Island Arsenal is limited and most personnel – both military and Civilian – live off post. Many already have a church they attend off post so it will be a challenge.”
Likewise, Forrester said that the service is designed to meet a need for those who have not plugged into a local place of worship or are looking for an Army community worship experience.
“This is an opportunity to worship God as a community of Rock Island Arsenal with people whom you work with,” Niehoff added. “Also, it may be an opportunity to see many people who perhaps telework or might be in the office on a day that they do not come in. I believe it would help foster a sense of community which is important not only as a Christian but also in the Army as well.”
While everyone is welcome to come to this service, Forrester said this service is not focusing on those people currently involved in a place of worship that is meeting the needs of the individual or family.
“We seek those who are currently not part of a house of worship, but desire something to meet their spiritual needs. These are the people we seek to connect with when we gather,” he said.
“The service is convenient for those living on RIA as you could easily get to it from any housing location,” Forrester added. “But we are welcoming those on and off the island with this service. This service is for anyone seeking a place to plug in and receive spiritual/religious support.”
Like many churches, the RIA service can benefit from volunteers.
“We welcome the support of anyone wanting to join with us in caring for and supporting the RIA community,” Forrester said.
For more information, contact Niehoff at 309-782-0923, email@example.com or Gibbs at 309-782-9421, firstname.lastname@example.org .