ROCK ISLAND, Ill - A small and enthusiastic group of First Army Soldiers and civilians participated in a two-mile spiritual run on a warm and humid mid-western morning to celebrate the 236th Chaplaincy Corp anniversary July 29.

“The Chaplaincy Corp has had a long and distinguished history of service,” said First Army Command Chaplain, Col. Robert Meek, as he discussed the anniversary prior to the run.

“For 236 years, the Chaplain Corps has steadfastly supported Soldiers and Families during peace and in war, answering a second call " that of service to the nation,” said Secretary of the Army John McHugh in a statement for the Chaplaincy birthday. "Through initiatives such as Strong Bonds, the Chaplain Corps has directly and positively impacted the resilience of our Families," McHugh said. "Throughout their history, chaplains have served alongside combat Soldiers, enduring hardships and bearing burdens, but remaining Army Strong for those they serve."

The war on terror has seen a surge on the home front of chaplains ministering to married couples to help them cope with the effects of multiple deployments, according to an Army News Service report. The “Strong Bonds” program has pre-deployment relationship training and post-deployment weekend sessions for couples. It now also has programs for singles and offers some weekend training sessions for entire families.

The Chaplain Corp, one of the oldest branches of the Army, was created on July 29, 1775. Since that date, approximately 25,000 chaplains have served as religious or spiritual leaders for more than 25 million Soldiers and their Families.

According to a Army News Service report, Maj. Gen. Donald P. Rutherford recently became the new chief of chaplains, taking the helm of more than 2,900 chaplains from 130 different faith groups that includes about 1,200 chaplains in the Army Reserve and National Guard.

To commemorate the event, Sgt. Maj. Wilburn Penick, First Army Chief of Staff, Col. Steven Merkel and Chaplain Meek cut a cake that was shared with all spiritual run participants.