By Dawn Arden
Public Affairs Office
FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. (Oct. 11, 2018) — The Fort Leonard Wood Garrison Chaplain’s Office is scheduled to host the first annual Ozarks Religious Leaders Partnership Symposium from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 16 at the Main Post Chapel.
In keeping with the theme of “Partnering in Ministry to the Military,” Chaplain (Col.) David Bowlus, Fort Leonard Wood Garrison chaplain, said the hope is to build bridges between the installation and the religious community outside the gate in an effort to better serve military members and their families.
More than 270 churches, synagogues, mosques, parachurch ministries, schools and student unions located within 100 miles of the installation have been invited to this inaugural event.
“It is open to all religious leaders,” Bowlus said. “And because the military is a pluralistic culture, we need to bring in religious leaders and build bridges with religious leaders of all denominations and faith groups.”
The morning’s itinerary includes opening remarks by Bowlus and Maj. Gen. Donna Martin, Maneuver Support Center of Excellence and Fort Leonard Wood commanding general, an educational session on the role of the Unit Ministry Team, programs available, and question and answer sessions with open discussion on the challenges faced by military families.
“We’re going to talk about the unique needs of Soldiers and families and how we in the military help minister to those needs,” Bowlus said. “We will share our best practices so that they might, in their churches, be able to know how to refer them but also be able to provide that support.”
He added, “We’re also going to talk about how we provide training for suicide prevention, and make sure that the pastors have ACE cards and that they also have those tools to best minister to them.”
The afternoon session includes a tour of the installation and concludes with a devotional in the installation’s Memorial Grove.
In addition to the scheduled events, a representative from the Chief of Chaplains Office, the Directorate of Ecclesiastical Relations and recruiting, will be on hand to answer questions and provide perspective for all who are interested in answering that call of becoming a military chaplain.
According to recent figures, which include permanent party service members, family members, civilian workers and retirees, there is a population of about 81,000 individuals who are potentially served by churches in the Fort Leonard Wood region.
“Even if a church currently doesn’t have any military members, it doesn’t mean they won’t in the future,” Bowlus said.
Those attending the symposium will also be invited to attend additional upcoming training hosted by the Chaplain’s office.
To RSVP for this event, call the planning team at 515.633.7665 or the Religious Support Office at 573.596.2127.