Sunday, July 26, 2015

Navy Chaplains Bring Church to Chattanooga Service Members

By By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Michael J. Lieberknecht, Navy Public Affairs Support Element East

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn (NNS) -- Navy chaplains from areas surrounding Tennessee held ministry services July 26 at the Air National Guard building for Sailors and Marines displaced from their offices after the shooting at Navy Operational Support Center Chattanooga July 16.

"We are here because we want to be here for the Sailors and Marines," said Lt. Cmdr. David Hicks, Navy chaplain from Charleston, South Carolina. "They don't have the choice of going down the street to their regular church, so we come here to give them that which they cant have."

Services were offered in two different rooms for Catholic service and Protestant worship. The focus of the services was coming together for healing.

"The uniform of faith is not about our differences, but our unity as people," said Lt. Joel DeGraeve, Navy chaplain from Columbus, Ohio. "To reach out to each other and build each other up when we're having life struggles is the real church."

The supporting chaplains arrived in Chattanooga shortly after the shooting to provide any peace of mind to the service members.

"Through counseling, prayer, encouragement and good solid advice and being able to comfort them at a time like this are things we have been doing everyday," said Lt. Cmdr. Dan Reardon, Navy chaplain from Meridian, Mississippi.

The chaplains will continue to work 14 to 18 hour days with Sailors and Marines affected by the events on July 16.

"In this situation we're focused on supporting our families, Sailors and Marines in this community," said Reardon.