By Sgt. 1st Class Michael Hagburg, 116th Public Affairs DetachmentMarch 10, 2010
CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo - An international group of chaplains visited one of Kosovo's holiest sites Feb. 19 as part of the monthly KFOR chaplains' conference.
Multi-National Battle Group-East's chaplains hosted the conference, which featured a worship service, luncheon and a bus trip to the Church of the Black Madonna in Letnica.
"Many of the chaplains had never seen the church before," said Staff Sgt. Laton Lohmann, Dickinson, N.D., an MNBG-E chaplain's assistant. "Making a pilgrimage to such a sacred site was a great way to start Lent and to set the tone for the season."
The Church of the Black Madonna is said to be the place where famed humanitarian Mother Teresa received her calling.
Twenty-eight chaplains and chaplain's assistants from 10 countries attended the conference, said Chap. (Maj.) Maury Millican, Bismarck, N.D., command chaplain for MNBG-E. Countries represented included the United States, Ireland, France, Italy, Poland, Germany, Ukraine, Hungary, Slovenia, and Sweden.
Millican said the conferences help build camaraderie among the international chaplaincy.
"It helps the chaplains from each country feel that the doors of communication are open if we need to reach out and ask for ministry assistance," he said.
The conference started with an ecumenical worship service at Camp Bondsteel featuring the camp's gospel dance team, "Heaven's Angels."
"I thought it would be a good opportunity for our international partners to see worship expressed in the form of dance," said Chap. (1st Lt.) Anthony Williams , Mount Vernon, Ill. "Dance brings to worship the ability to express visually the words of the song that the members of the dance team are performing to. It can at times tell the story of the song visually."
Williams said the visiting chaplains were impressed by the performance, and took a lot of pictures and videos.
Chaplain (Capt.) Timothy Meier, Los Altos, Calif., chaplain for MNBG-E's 1-144 Maneuver Task Force, and German Army Chaplain Matthias Ebinger, the coordinating chaplain for the KFOR Headquarters, jointly conducted the worship service.
Lunch at Camp Bondsteel gave the chaplains a chance to talk informally about issues relevant to their mission in KFOR. Williams said the conference was valuable for all the participants.
"It gives us an opportunity to be renewed spiritually and to meet chaplains from our international partners, so that we can foster and grow relationships with each other," he said.