Three nominated for bishop suffragan for armed services and federal ministries

Posted Aug 23, 2016

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Three nominees have been announced for Episcopal Church bishop suffragan for armed services and federal ministries.

With an office based in Washington D.C., the bishop suffragan for armed services and federal ministries is a member of the staff of Presiding Bishop Michael Curry.

The three nominees are:

ens_082316_christopherGarcia-1The Rev. Christopher Garcia, Emmanuel Episcopal Church, Greenwood, Virginia, Diocese of Virginia.  A career Army officer, he retired after 25 years of service in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps with the rank of colonel. He was deployed to Saudi Arabia and Iraq for Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

 

ens_082316_davidMcElwain-1The Rev. David McElwain, Veterans Administration staff chaplain in Cheyenne, Wyoming, Diocese of Wyoming.  A retired Navy commander, among his military posts he served as pastoral care chaplain at the Naval Hospital Jacksonville, Florida, and as command chaplain, supervisory chaplain and battle group chaplain, USS Nassau Amphibious Ready Group.

 

ens_082316-carlWright-1The Rev. Carl Wright, St. Andrew’s Church, Pasadena, Maryland, Diocese of Maryland. In his military career, he has served as deputy command chaplain for the Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC) at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana. Commissioned an Air Force chaplain in August 1993, Lieutenant Colonel Wright is an Associate Member of the Anglican religious Order of the Holy Cross (OHC).

The election is slated for the fall meeting of the House of Bishops Sept. 15-20. According to Episcopal Church Constitution Article II sec. 7, the House of Bishops who have gathered for the session will elect the bishop suffragan for armed services and federal ministries. The successful nominee must garner at least 50 percent of the total votes plus 1.

Christopher Weaver, rear admiral, U.S. Navy-retired, is the chair of the search committee.  Members of the committee are: Major General Razz Waff, USA (Ret.); Chaplain (Col.) Paul Minor, USANG; Col. Stephen Dalzell, USA (Ret); Chaplain (Col.) Carl Andrews, USAF (Ret.); Chaplain Marion Thullbery, Department of Veterans Affairs; Chaplain Christine Waweru, Federal Bureau of Prisons.

For more information contact Weaver at chrisweaver1@att.net, or Maggie Mount  mmount@episcopalchurch.org.


Tags


Full names required. Comments limited to 2000 characters. Read our Comment Policy. Reports of commenting misconduct can be e-mailed to news@episcopalchurch.org.

Comments (11)

  1. Not sure we’ve ever had a more impressive slate from which to choose. Congratulations sesrch committee!

  2. Martha Richards says:

    Firmly believe all are well qualified and would serve admirably.

  3. Cindi Bartol says:

    a wonderful list of qualified persons with military backgrounds – thank you search committee for the work taken to secure such fine candidates.

  4. Donald A Lowery says:

    Very impressive slate of candidates. The Church will be well served by any one of them

  5. Phillip Ayers says:

    Does anyone remember the boycott of the consecration of the Suffragan for the Armed Forces (as that post used to be called) by the Episcopal Peace Fellowship? A then-priest who was part of that demonstration, Edward Lee, later became Bishop of Western Michigan and my bishop for five and a half years. I would have to say he was one of the best bishops I’ve ever known and I much admired his integrity in remaining very much an advocate for peace in an area of the country (west Michigan) that often was not very friendly toward that stance. To this day, however, I’m not sure that that demonstration back in the sixties (seventies?) was necessary; but it did get some attention in the church press and otherwise. As an EPF member at that time, I disagreed, but quietly!
    Good luck and God bless whoever is elected. While something of a pacifist, I love and admire my brothers and sisters in the armed services and pray for them regularly. More especially, I love and admire my brother and sister clergy who serve as their chaplains, often in horrendous situations, offering their love, concern, caring and presence. Bless them!

  6. As a member of EPF, I also remember Rt. Rev. Ed Lee, and this controversy over the Bishop for the armed forces at that time. I also remember a very significant dialogue which arose from this, which hopefully has had more lasting effect. My question then, as now, is twofold. (1) How can any Christian chaplain simultaneously serve under the command and authority structure of the military and be given a federal salary, while also serving Jesus Christ? Is a military chaplain free and empowered to counsel and console individuals who may question the legality or ethics of an unjust war, or even believe that God is leading them to become a pacifist, or must they remain obedient to their commanding officer and the mission of their unit, which very often means engaging in mortal combat, not loving, one’s enemies or praying for one’s persecutors? (2) If ministry to those in the military is a “necessary evil” given the need for all to repent and come to Jesus Christ, would not this ministry best be served by those who are ordained, equipped, salaried, or overseen by an appropriate church authority (for Episcopalians, a Bishop) who is NOT under orders or salaried by the military or the federal government? These three gentlemen seem like honorable people engaged in a much needed ministry. But how is the ministry of Christ, the Prince of Peace, sometimes very distinct from the ways of war, or the machinations of a powerful nation-state which has, in my lifetime, seriously and repeatedly misused such power for immoral, unethical, brutal, and even illegal purposes, even while also raising up strong and brave individuals who seek only the protection, security, or defense of innocent civilians, and/or Americans like you and me?

    1. Jeffrey Neuberger says:

      Grant – I’d like to respond to your use of the phrase “necessary evil” when referring to what you call military ministry. Allow me to speak as a retired Air Force chaplain. First and foremost, the office of chaplain in the military is an accommodation to the Constitution. The First Amendment states several very important rights or freedoms, among them that of religion. The Amendment states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” There is no law which determines the religion of our “state.” It also does not “prohibit the free exercise thereof.” The idea of “free exercise” is what’s most important in this discussion.

      When any member of our society joins the military an oath is take to support and defend the Constitution. Before becoming a chaplain in the Air Force I served as an enlisted man in the U.S. Navy. During my enlistment I was stationed aboard an aircraft carrier, often at sea for six months or more of deployment. As a baptized Christian it was my practice to attend services of worship. However, when you find yourself somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic ocean and it’s Sunday, what do you do? If the government does not accommodate your ‘free exercise’ of religion then it is violating your Constitutional right provided by the First Amendment.

      Military members will often find their location and movements to be restricted due to the mission. As an Air Force chaplain in Iraq I joined thousands of others on a base in northern Iraq. Again, when it comes to the “free exercise” and attending worship, there were no churches or synagogues “outside the wire.” For obvious reasons, without an accommodation of some kind the ‘free exercise’ clause would be worthless.

      The military chaplaincy was established as an accommodation to the Constitution for these any other contingencies. Chaplains of all faiths are endorsed to ministry within the military in order to provide for the freedom of religion (note: not freedom from religion) for all members.

      A civilian pastor cannot ‘ride along’ on an aircraft carrier or “follow along” on a demanding mission. In order to be effective, the chaplain must understand the context of his ministry and be fully trained and equipped to provide ministry in that context, and to be able to withstand the rigors of that context.

      I was deeply proud of my role in the military as a chaplain, providing for the free exercise of religion for everyone: believer, atheist, agnostic…whatever the category. The chaplaincy is often called “the great experiment.” That has been true in my experience as I have worked alongside chaplains of many faiths to a common goal: the free exercise of religion. I was given the freedom to maintain my distinct faith group. There’s much more to the story, i.e. how that played out in every day ministry, but the main purpose was the cherished freedoms we enjoy and the privilege it was to protect them.

      Grant, you raise excellent questions the answers to which are lived out with thoughtfulness and conviction every day in the military chaplaincy.

  7. The Rev. Canon Rosa Lee Harden says:

    I find it impossible to believe there were zero qualified female candidates. This is 2016. This is not acceptable.

  8. Selena Smith says:

    Thank you EPF for your witness and challenge. Qualifications for the Bishop does not include leading a conquering Crusade for land in the Holy Land. I do not see ministry in the Church and service to the State as mutually exclusive. I see witnessing to Jesus the Peacemaker in whatever occupation to which one is called or takes up. Thanks to Canon Harden who raises an interesting question which can be explored with the Committee Chair using the contact info given above.

  9. Dr. Erna Lund says:

    Indeed are any of these candidates “Pro-Peace” and “Anti-War”? Our country shamefully has/is the warring nation, destructive, military focused with pride in the most sophisticated weaponry for killing! And any country that doesnot align itself with this policy is regarded as enemy or uncooperative in the world stage, UN, etc. As Grant Bakewell expressed so well where is the spirituality of Jesus and our Christian faith? The U.S. has destroyed The Holy Land and countries of the Middle East maintaining that this bombing,killing,destruction is “necessary to establish order in the region.” And thusly whitewashing 25 years of imperialist war crimes.

  10. With plenty of personnel returning from combat, a military suicide rate that is alarming among all personnel (even those who’ve not seen combat), sexual violence trauma among female veterans and the emerging awareness of the “moral injury” that can be suffered by warriors, this mission field is so ripe for Christ’s compassion and healing power through his church. Praying for the candidates, the vote and most of all the ministry going forward.

Comments are closed.

You have reached our comment limit of 5. You may resume commenting in 24 hours.