ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. – He was doing what a preacher should do -- speaking with conviction, inspiration, sincerity, and passion.
Chaplain (Brig. Gen.) William “Bill” Green Jr. spoke compassionately to a packed room inside of Heritage Hall here Feb. 2 at Rock Island Arsenal’s National Prayer Breakfast event.
Green, a native of Savannah, Georgia, initially joined the Army as a cannon crewman and field radio repairman. Sensing a higher calling, he left active duty in 1986 to become an ordained minister and Army chaplain.
In 2019, he became the U.S. Army’s 26th deputy chief of chaplains.
The National Prayer Breakfast is held annually in Washington, D.C., on the first Thursday in February. Military units will traditionally hold a prayer breakfast to coincide with the National Prayer Breakfast.
This year marked the 71st anniversary of it.
Chaplain (Col.) Kevin Niehoff, command chaplain, U.S. Army Sustainment Command, gave opening remarks and the benediction to end this event.
After the breakfast, Chaplain (Col). Kevin Forrester, First U.S. Army command chaplain, gave the invocation.
The Prayer to the Nation was given by Lt. Col. John Fernas, deputy commander, Rock Island District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, RIA; Prayer for the Military by Navy Lt. Cmdr. Shahana Brown, commanding officer, Naval Operations Support Center, RIA; Prayer for the Local Community by George Benjamin, operational specialist, First U.S. Army; and Prayer for Families was Sgt. Maj. Andrew Munoz, Human Resources (G1), ASC.
Col. Scott Kindberg, chief of staff, ASC, introduced Green and provided some background information on the breakfast.
“According to the Smithsonian magazine, President Dwight Eisenhower began the tradition with the first official prayer breakfast in 1953. While Eisenhower was initially wary of attending a prayer breakfast, evangelist Billy Graham convinced him it was the right move. Thank goodness he did,” Kindberg said.
“Speaking to an audience that included Graham, hotel magnate Conrad Hilton, and 400 political, religious and business leaders, Eisenhower proclaimed, ‘all free government is firmly founded in a deeply felt religious faith,’” he said.
Green explained that events like this serve two purposes.
“To collectively pray for our nation and for this community and to build a sense of community by sharing a meal together,” and, “unless you live in isolation…many of us have been in isolation over the last two years or so, we really do have something to pray for.”
Leaders, such as presidents, throughout U.S. history, have issued a call to prayer, especially in pivotal times, Green said, and then quoted former President Ronald Reagan: “‘It is time to realize that we need God more than he needs us.’”
Green said people call for prayers in seasons of war, transition, national disasters, of attack and vulnerabilities, triumph, and celebration.
Sometimes people think God is missing. “Where is God?”, they ask, Green said.
“I’m here to tell you today that God is not missing,” he said. “God is an ever-present help in times of trouble and the time of need.”
Prayer, he said, allows people to talk and commune with God.
“God is our refuge even in the face of uncertainty. God is not a mere temporary retreat. He is our eternal refuge and can provide strength in any circumstance … God is God in the midst of our troubles.”
Green has served as a chaplain in Iraq several times with the 1st Armored Division; with the 4th Brigade Combat Team, and later as deputy division chaplain with 1st AD; and in Bosnia-Herzegovina as the pastor/chapel officer-in-charge, at Eagle Base.
Following Green’s speech, Kindberg presented him with an ASC commanding general coin, a special big ASC coin with Green’s name engraved on the reverse side, and a thank-you note from Maj. Gen. David Wilson, ASC’s commanding general.
Green said, in his message, he and Wilson began a friendship starting in 2002 at the Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Wilson could not make the breakfast as he was away on temporary duty.
Green is a distinguished military graduate of Savannah State University, Savannah, Georgia with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice; and, a graduate of Emory University, Decatur, Georgia, with a master of divinity from Candler School of Theology.
He also possesses a master’s degree in national security strategy from the National War College, Fort Lesley J. McNair, Washington, D.C. And, he is endorsed by the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc.
The Coram Deo Praise Team, Coram Deo Bible Church of Davenport, Iowa, provided music, performing three songs. The songs were “Be Thou My Vision”, “10,000 Reasons”, and “In Christ Alone”.
The mission of the Army Chaplain Corps is to “To build Army spiritual readiness to deploy, fight, and win our Nation's wars, by providing reliable and relevant world-class religious support, as a unique element of the Army that is fully engaged across the full spectrum of conflict,” its website states.