Chaplains use devotional luncheons to engage with workforce

By Denise Caskey, JBM-HH Public AffairsSeptember 15, 2023

Chaplains use devotional luncheons to engage with workforce
Religious Support Chaplain (Maj.) Kevin Hovan addresses members of the joint base command team and civilian employees Aug. 30 during the inaugural “faith encounters” devotional luncheon at Building 59 on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall. (Photo Credit: Denise Caskey) VIEW ORIGINAL

JOINT BASE MYER-HENDERSON HALL, Va. — Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall’s Religious Support Office is taking the ministry out of the church and bringing it to the people.

With the help of a robust Chapel Tithes and Offerings Fund, thanks in part to the generosity of congregations on the installation, RSO is hosting weekly devotional luncheons for the installation’s workforce.

Like prayer breakfasts, food is provided by RSO and a short devotional is shared.

Called “faith encounters,” the luncheons are a unique way to address the spiritual resilience of the installation’s workforce, said RSO Chaplain (Maj.) Kevin Hovan, the family life and operations chaplain.

“Religion is sort of a foundational area of a person's life,” Hovan said. “What we do in religion has an impact on emotional, behavioral and spiritual health, if you want to separate the religious and spiritual, which in some ways it makes sense to do. It has an impact in other areas of life.”

Hovan said the main focus of the luncheons is to give the chaplains and religious affairs specialists a chance to rub shoulders with the workforce outside of weekly or monthly operational and partner and tenant briefings.

“That's oftentimes a senior chaplain simply meeting with a director,” Hovan said. “What about all the other employees within that directorate? This initiative gets us to them, and we provide a meal and a short devotional, and then it's just an opportunity to talk with people. If there are needs, then we can work to meet those needs. If not, then we've at least had fellowship.”

The first luncheon was held Aug. 30 at the JBM-HH Headquarters building, where RSO was able to meet with the joint base command team and team members from several directorates including Plans, Analysis and Integration, Public Affairs, Resource Management and Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security.

Other luncheons are planned for areas with a heavy concentration of personnel, such as the Directorate of Public Works, Andrew Rader U.S. Army Health Clinic and Henderson Hall.

Hovan said the idea for devotional luncheons came about because he and other religious affairs personnel recognized there is a lack of variety in how religious voices are heard.

“We recognize that our units have chaplains, and oftentimes our budgetary focus goes toward green suiters, those in uniform. Of course, being on a joint base, that's our Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and Space Force,” Hovan said. “But we recognize that sometimes our civilian workforce, which makes up most of an installation, sometimes doesn't have access to some of the things that our greasers do.”

Hovan said the RSO is also looking at connecting with the workforce by offering opportunities such as Bible studies and faith-based book studies.

Hovan said regardless of religious affiliation, everyone is welcome to attend the luncheons.

“I think when we address spiritual resilience, we're hitting a foundational element of human existence, whether that element is Christian or Hindu or Buddhist or whatever,” Hovan said. “The Army recognizes that everyone has a spiritual life, whether that's deistic or non-deistic, however that works out in their individual lives. With that being a foundational level, it goes into every area of our life. I think if we can touch on that, if we can help build and improve upon that, then we help build and improve upon the person as a whole.”

For more joint base news, click here.