Military chaplains “need the unshakable grounding of God’s grace in Christ so that they are a house built on a rock and not on the sand,” said the Rev. Randall Golter, executive director of the LCMS Office of International Mission.
The men and women who chaplains encounter in the military are a “ripe field for the Lord’s harvest,” said Golter during the Sept. 24 installation service of Chaplain Craig G. Muehler as director of the Synod’s Ministry to the Armed Forces at the LCMS International Center in St. Louis.
Muehler, 51, retired in August from his position at the Pentagon where he has served since 2011 as deputy chaplain of the U.S. Marine Corps. He joined the LCMS staff in St. Louis on Aug. 28.
He succeeds Chaplain Mark J. Schreiber, who retired in May after serving as director of the armed forces ministry since 2004.
As director of the Ministry to the Armed Forces, Muehler serves as the chief liaison to the more than 160 LCMS chaplains in all branches of the military, active and reserve, and the Civil Air Patrol.
“I am humbled and honored to have the opportunity to serve our Lord in this position and look forward to working with President Harrison and the entire Office of International Mission as we continue to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with those who serve our nation,” Muehler said.
The position is in line with the Synod’s restructure that was adopted by delegates to the 2010 Synod convention and covered in the church body’s budget.
Muehler, a 1988 graduate of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, is a trained chaplain with the rank of captain and holds a master’s degree in Theology in Pastoral Counseling from Trinity International University in Deerfield, Ill.
His active-duty assignments have included Destroyer Squadron Thirty-One, Naval Training Center in Great Lakes, Ill.; Naval Security Group Activity, Kunia, Hawaii; U.S.S. Inchon, Ingleside, Texas; Naval Air Station, Corpus Christi, Texas; 2d Marine Logistics Group, Camp Lejeune, N.C.; 3D Marine Aircraft Wing, Miramar, Calif.; Naval Medical Center, San Diego; and 3D Marine Division, Okinawa, Japan.
Muehler’s decorations include the Legion of Merit, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal (two), the Joint Service Commendation Medal, the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (two), the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (two), the Joint Meritorious Unit Award and the Air Force Outstanding Unit Commendation.
LCMS Missouri District President Rev. Dr. Ray Mirly installed Muehler, and LCMS President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison served as the liturgist.
Harrison told Muehler the LCMS is “blessed to have you come right from active duty.”
Harrison recalled correspondence between the Synod’s first president, C.F.W. Walther, and Civil War chaplain and Lutheran minister Henry Gerecke, a U.S. Army chaplain who shared the Gospel with incarcerated Nazis during World War II.
“This piece of our church has been so vital and never more vital than today,” Harrison said. “Our chaplains see themselves at a crucial moment, where their service is more needed now than it’s ever been. That is something unbelievably honorable.”
Golter’s sermon was based on 2 Timothy 2:1-10 where Paul says, “You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”
Just as Muehler’s predecessors considered it a privilege to be used by Christ to extend His mercy to and through chaplains globally, so it will be for Muehler, Golter said.
“He’s put you here now intentionally by the divine call,” Golter said, speaking directly to Muehler who nodded in agreement. “No matter the satanic attack or if all hell is breaking loose, He’s called you here. And his purpose is rather simple: more Christians, which also is your desire.”
Posted Sept. 25, 2014