Convention recognizes military chaplains, missionaries

From left, Chaplain Jonathan Shaw, Chaplain Gregory Todd and Chaplain Gregory Jans are recognized for ministry and service on Monday, July 11, during the 66th Regular Convention of the LCMS in Milwaukee. (LCMS/Frank Kohn)

From left, Chaplain Jonathan Shaw, Chaplain Gregory Todd and Chaplain Gregory Jans are recognized for ministry and service on Monday, July 11, during the 66th Regular Convention of the LCMS in Milwaukee. (LCMS/Frank Kohn)

By Sarah Reinsel

MILWAUKEE (July 11, 2016) — Three military chaplains and six missionaries received recognition at The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod’s 66th Regular Convention on Monday.

Representing all chaplains from active, reserve, guard and civil air patrol, the military chaplains specifically recognized today are:

Chaplain, Lt. Col. Gregory Jans, U.S. Air Force, the 60th Medical Group and David Grant Medical Center, Travis AFB, CA. He also serves under the Ministry to the Armed Forces (MAF) with the LCMS Office of International Mission (OIM). He has been deployed in Bahrain, Egypt and Iraq. He holds a Master of Divinity degree from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis.

Chaplain (Col.) Jonathan E. Shaw, U.S. Army, Command Chaplain, U.S. Army Europe. He has also been deployed with Joint Task Force-Bravo and 34th Medical Battalion-Medical Evacuation (MEDEVAC) in Honduras, Panama, Saudi Arabia and Iraq. He holds a Master of Divinity and an STM from Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Ind.; a D.D. from Concordia University, Irvine, Calif.; and an M.A. in Ethics from Vanderbilt University.

Capt. Gregory N. Todd, Chaplain Corps, U.S. Navy, Chaplain of the U.S. Coast Guard. He was the first Navy chaplain ministering at Ground Zero after the 2001 attacks in New York City. He also has served in Kuwait and Afghanistan, and he has earned the Legion of Merit Medal and the Meritorious Service Medal, among many others. He holds a Master of Divinity degree from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, and a Doctor of Ministry in Christian Leadership from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.

The assembly also heard about the MAF’s Operation Barnabas, a care and support network for military members, families and veterans. A short video about that network was presented, followed by a standing ovation.

“I close with thanking you for allowing these men to serve as chaplains. Those men and women whom they serve are thankful that they can find a place to go for Word and Sacrament ministry. And these men are an example of those who deliver it, who share the good news of Jesus Christ,” said MAF Director Rev. Craig Muehler.

Six career missionaries, with their spouses and families, stand on the convention stage for a special recognition of their service on Monday, July 11, in Milwaukee. (LCMS/Michael Schuermann)

Six career missionaries, with their spouses and families, stand on the convention stage for a special recognition of their service on Monday, July 11, in Milwaukee. (LCMS/Michael Schuermann)

The recognition of career missionaries followed later in the day with a presentation from Rev. Dr. Edward Grimenstein, associate executive director of the OIM.

He reported that between 2013 and 2016, the number of LCMS career missionaries has grown from 68 missionaries to 125 missionaries.

Grimenstein also highlighted the work of spouses and children who are serving on the international mission field, noting that there are now 200 children and 60 spouses accompanying missionaries in their service abroad.

“Those numbers are evidence of people hearing the call to serve, of standing up to say, ‘Here am I,’ ” Grimenstein said, emphasizing the vital role that families play both in assisting the missionaries and in being witnesses themselves.

Grimenstein said of missionary children, “As they grow and go to school with other children, they also speak to other children about Jesus, often in a way that only other children will understand.”

A brief comedic skit performed by Cyndi Schumacher and her children was included to further Grimenstein’s point about the importance of the family to the life and work of the missionary.

The missionaries recognized were:

• Deaconess Caitlin Worden, Latin America and the Caribbean;

• Rev. Steve and Cyndi Schumacher, Africa;

• Rev. Craig D’Onofrio, Eurasia;

• Rick and Sarah Sovitzky, Eurasia;

• Rev. Roger James, Southern Asia and Oceania; and

• Rev. Chuck Ferry, Southern Asia and Oceania.

The 66th Regular Convention of the LCMS is meeting July 9-14 at the Wisconsin Center convention complex under the theme, “Upon This Rock.” Among convention participants are some 1,125 clergy and lay voting delegates.

Sarah Reinsel is a senior at Hillsdale College and an intern for the LCMS convention newsroom.

Posted July 11, 2016 / Updated July 12, 2016

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One Response to Convention recognizes military chaplains, missionaries

  1. Ken Kraetzer July 18, 2016 at 4:32 pm #

    Project is underway to provide a new Protestant Chaplains Monument at Arlington National Cemetery. The existing one located prominently in Section 2 was not updated for chaplains who died in service in Korea, Vietnam, or Cold War. Arlington officials noted that the existing monument upright made of concrete and is decaying and recommended a granite replacement. Separately a new “Going Forward” footstone monument is proposed that would present names of Chaplains who have died in service since 2000 with space for 50 future names. This would be an Interfaith monument. Project team donated the Jewish Chaplains Monument in 2011 and also plans a walkway. See plans on Facebook: Chaplains Hill: Arlington National Cemetery.

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