HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Not one to turn down an invite, Army Contracting Command's Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Charles "Chip" Fields found himself fielding questions from a very inquisitive group of local children at the Grace United Methodist Church Sunday School here.

Ingrid Murray, wife of ACC Command Sgt. Maj. John L. Murray, was talking to a group of children, kindergarten to fifth grade, when one child talked about his dad serving in the Army and who was presently deployed.

"One of the other kids said 'well he doesn't get to go to church then'," Murray said. "I knew right then that this was an opportunity to help them understand a little more about the Army."

Soon after, she mentioned the conversation to Fields who immediately set up a visit with the children.

"It was very important to him to let the children know that the Soldiers' spiritual needs were being met no matter where the Army sends them," Murray said.

The meeting with the children generated a lot of interest in the chaplain and his role in the Army.

"They were inquisitive and excited about the chaplain's kit. Sunday school ends at 10:30 a.m., but they didn't leave until 10:45 a.m.," Murray said.

According to Fields, the riveting conversation included answers to why the Army has chaplains, the equipment chaplains use in the field and how those tools correspond to what they knew about church.

"They wanted to handle everything," Fields said after showing the children his chaplain's kit as well as his helmet and protective vest.

"A famous preacher (Harry Ironside) once said, 'Put the cookies on the bottom shelf, so the children can get to them'," Fields said. "One of the hardest things for a theologian to do is refrain from speaking like a theologian when talking to people, even more important when talking to children.

"I learned how to take deep spiritual truth and make it understandable to even the youngest of students there," he said.

The chaplain said he hoped the children left understanding that the assembling of believers
is an important aspect in an individual's overall spiritual growth and this is made available no
matter where people congregate.

Murray said the chaplain's visit exposed the children to a whole new world.

"The following Sunday, one of the children said that they liked the Army preacher and told their mom about the experience," Murray said. "I've also had several parents tell me how much their child talked about Army people going to church anywhere in the world. Now the children have seen firsthand how church is conducted by the Army even if it is in the desert. One parent admitted she had never really thought about Soldiers in the field and going to church."