"How Can My Church Get Involved": Diocesan Military Ministry
Are you interested in learning more about Military Ministry in our diocese, or perhaps your church has done outreach to our military in the past, and you are looking for new and creative ways to reignite efforts to serve our military and their families.
The Diocesan Military Ministry was established in 2016, with a call from Bishop Reed to explore opportunities to serve our military members and their families. Since that time numerous congregations have committed to Military Ministry programs in their churches and communities. Congregational Military Ministry is coordinated through the efforts of onsite leaders known as Military Ministry Contact People (MMCPs). Needs are different in every community, but every community has veterans. Many of our churches have found that partnering with another veteran service organization facilitates their efforts to reach out to the community. For example, Soldiers Angels and local VFW posts and schools have opened doors in Llano, Universal City, Canyon Lake, and San Antonio for churches to volunteer with them and reach more veterans than we (or they) could on our own. Quilts of Honor, blankets, Christmas stockings, food distribution, scarves, and new sock distribution are just some of the opportunities possible through such organizations. Other churches have coordinated directly with military bases in their communities to provide fellowship and support for families of military members deploying and recognition of veterans.
Diocesan-led outreach is spearheaded through the diocesan Military Ministry Committee, which includes lay and clergy, including retired military members and military chaplains, as well as civilians. Outreach efforts include Cooling Scarves for active-duty troops that can easily be sewn with supply kits provided to churches. Creating Paracord survival lanyards for troops is also a popular activity to engage volunteers. Cooling Scarves and survival lanyards are part of our collaboration with Soldier’s Angels and Operation Gratitude. The diocese is also an official partner in the United States Vietnam War Commemorative Program, which honors Vietnam Veterans and surviving spouses. Commemorative kits to honor Vietnam Veterans are available to churches by contacting the diocesan office.
If you are interested in starting a Military Ministry program at your church, the Military Ministry Toolkit is an invaluable resource. You can access the toolkit online or request a hard copy be sent to you through the diocesan office. The toolkit contains everything your congregation needs to begin or expand a Military Ministry. Ideas for ministry can be as simple as adding military members to your prayer list or as involved as organizing community drives for durable medical equipment to support Project Mend. There is so much opportunity in the Military Ministry field that every church will find a place appropriate for them.
Military Ministry has a Facebook group, the Episcopal Diocese of West Texas Military Ministry, which provides helpful resources, event notifications, and the opportunity to highlight what’s happening throughout the diocese.
Our diocese also provides amazing opportunities for respite and adventure to our military and their families, through our Diocesan Camping Program. Military members and their families can attend all of our camps, Camp Capers in Waring, Texas, Mustang Island Family Camp, located on the Texas Gulf Coast, and Duncan Park, in Ward, Colorado free of charge. These inspirational opportunities are funded through grants and generous donors throughout our diocese.
“Military Ministry is not a flashy ministry but is one that has many facets and opportunities. So that old admonition to keep on keeping on is an appropriate one for churches looking for opportunities to serve our military and veterans,” says the Rev. Karen Brandon, Diocesan Military Ministry Committee co-chair.
Military Ministry in the Episcopal Diocese of West Texas was spearheaded by the Rev. Karen Brandon (US Army retired), and Chaplain Susan Douglas (USAF retired). In 2016, then Bishop Coadjutor, the Rt. Rev. David Reed announced that the diocese would explore the opportunities for a firm establishment and growth of a Military Ministry. “We’re privileged to serve those who have served so sacrificially on our behalf. But the needs are complex – not only for combat veterans, but for active-duty personnel stationed among us and families left behind and waiting.”
For more information on Military Ministry, please contact Leslie Mixson, Diocesan Military Ministry Liaison, at 210-824-5387 or by email at email@example.com.