By Spc. Terysa Shaffer, 35th Signal Brigade Public AffairsOctober 5, 2009
With his departure being less than one month away, Navy Chaplain (Lt.) Rickey L. Bennett, a Support Activity Sailor from Aurora, Colo., was starting to become worried that the rumors concerning the closing of the Warrior Gospel Disciples were coming true. His prayers were answered by the arrival of Capt. David Mvondo, chaplain for the 67th Expeditionary Signal Battalion from Fort Gordon, Ga. Mvondo, from the West African nation of Cameroon, officially took over as the new senior pastor during a Change of Stole ceremony at the Warrior Chapel on Camp Liberty, Iraq Sept. 27. The stole, a vestment that symbolizes the bonds with which Jesus was bound during his Passion, was exchanged from Bennett to Mvondo to represent a transfer of leadership. "It is similar to a change of command ceremony but instead of command this ceremony represents the relinquishment and assumption of pastoral leadership," Bennett said. Even though his unit is located at Camp Victory, Mvondo said he was looking for ways to become involved with all the installation chapels, and he is excited about preaching at Camp Liberty. "The unit is important to me, but being attached to a chapel, it's something I have to do," said Mvondo. The ceremony, which was tied into a regular gospel service, started out with Bennett saying some farewell words to the congregation. Afterwards, Lt. Col. Thomas R. Shepard, the garrison chaplain, called Mvondo up to the front where he recited the charge to the incoming chaplain, and transferred the stole from Bennett to Mvondo. Last is the Prayer of Installation, where everyone gathers around the new senior pastor to pray for his success. The removal of the stole from Bennett symbolizes God releasing him from the responsibility of senior pastor and for the spiritual care of that particular body of Christ. Having the stole placed around Mvondo's shoulders gives him the responsibility of caring for and leading his new congregation. As the new senior pastor of the Warrior Gospel Disciples, Mvondo said, "My goal, as a pastor, a shepherd, is to lead the people to maturity." Bennett said he has a bittersweet feeling about leaving, but he feels that Mvondo is a perfect fit for the church. "He has a genuine love for people and a passion for truth that will serve him well as he leads them unto Christian maturity", Bennett said.