New service invites spiritual transition: Sunday evening chapel service to start this week
From left, Chaplain (Maj.) Daniel Middlebrooks, U.S. Army Chaplain Center and School, talks to Chaplain (Capt.) Jerry Wagner, 187th Ordnance Battalion, in the Anderson Street Chapel. The chapel is home to the post's newest Christian worship service,... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- Beginning Sunday, a new Christian worship service will invite the Fort Jackson faith community to participate in spiritual transitions. The service will begin at 6 p.m. at Anderson Street Chapel and will be led by Chaplain (Maj.) Daniel Middlebrooks, U.S. Army Chaplain Center and School, and Chaplain (Capt.) Jerry Wagner, 187th Ordnance Battalion.

Middlebrooks explained that one of the goals was to add to the worship options on post by starting a Sunday evening service aimed at those who may not be able to attend service on Sunday mornings, as well as those who would like to participate in a second service that day.

"It was an open opportunity to start something new, because, truthfully, I believe - and this is just my own personal opinion - that Fort Jackson should be one of the most spiritually exciting and spiritually alive posts in this entire military region,"

Middlebrooks said. "This is the center for the chaplaincy school house for Army, Navy and Air Force, the center for religious support and unit ministry training with our chaplain assistants."

The new service will have the theme, "transitions," which Middlebrooks said was a good fit for Fort Jackson.

"One of the things about Fort Jackson is when people come here, (it's) usually for one purpose, and that's to transition from a civilian lifestyle to a military culture," Middlebrooks said. "And so, really, here is one of the key areas for transitions of a professional nature."

However, the goal of the service is to offer a transition of a different kind, he said.

"Transitions are always part of ... life," Middlebrooks said. "The greatest transition, however, is our spiritual transition when we go from death to life when we accept Christ as our savior. Spiritual transition is a lifelong learning, and it's a lifelong growing. And that's why we named (the service) that way. It's about who we are, but mostly, about who we're becoming."

During the same time that Middlebrooks was exploring the option of starting a Sunday night service, Wagner was looking for a way to better serve the needs of the Soldiers in his battalion.

"I've talked to my Soldiers, and overwhelmingly, there is a great majority that would prefer to come on a Sunday evening after they've had a couple of days of rest, rather than a Wednesday night when we were doing our service," Wagner said. "I feel as a chaplain it is my job to support my Soldiers - not when I think they should have service, but when a service would best meet their needs."

The two chaplains' ideas merged when Middlebrooks started looking for a location for his service and came across the 187th chapel.

"You would never build a McDonald's on a dirt road where no one goes," Middlebrooks said. "You put it right in the center of where there's a lot of activity. And there's a lot of activity right here."

The service is not just for Soldiers in Advanced Individual Training, though. The chaplains emphasized that everyone is welcome to participate.

"It is about the body of Christ - not necessarily the uniform that you wear, but the armor you bear."

The service will include a combination of contemporary-style music, preaching and fellowship, but is open to any kind of presentation of God's word, Middlebrooks said.

"The best way to describe it is - just come and see," he said. "You never really know what to expect on Sunday night. It could be videos, it could be different songs, it could be drama."

The chaplains said they are hoping to attract worshippers who want to participate, not simply spectate.

"We need people who (have that) desire to sing, that desire to play, that desire to serve," Middlebrooks said. "We want people who want to be a part of God's kingdom and God's body, right here at the local church - literally - to be extra hands and extra voices and hearts."

One thing participants can always expect, though, is a dedicated ministry team, Wagner said.

"Whatever we do, we want to do it in excellence," he said. "We don't want to do something halfway. ... The last thing we need is another service just for the sake of having another service."