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Fort Rucker community gathers for National Prayer Breakfast

Sheila Jackson sings at the National Prayer Breakfast Feb. 13 at The Landing. (Photo by Nathan Pfau)

Sheila Jackson sings at the National Prayer Breakfast Feb. 13 at The Landing. (Photo by Nathan Pfau)

Published: February 20, 2014

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (February 20, 2014) -- Members of the local community came together at The Landing Feb. 13 for the annual National Prayer Breakfast to pray for the nation, the American Soldier and Family, and Fort Rucker.

It is important to recognize the spiritual needs of Soldiers, staff and everyone in between, said Chaplain (Col.) Dennis Newton, garrison and U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence chaplain.

“We are a spiritual people, Americans. You get to a point where you recognize that there is something beyond you, greater than you. So, regardless of who came today and who they are, we understand that it is about the free exercise of religion. The majority of Soldiers hold these spiritual values and we want to honor that,” he said.

Staff Sgt. David Lopez, NCO in charge of the War Fighter Health Division, U.S. Army Aeromedical Research Laboratory, said he wanted to attend the event because he feels that prayer is slowly being forgotten about in today’s modern world.

“It is always good to come back and relate our mission to God. Sometimes we forget about him, but in times of trouble, that’s when we always remember to pray. And it should not be like that,” he said. “It’s a great feeling knowing the command supports the prayer breakfast and the Soldiers who have beliefs.”

The breakfast was established by Dwight. D. Eisenhower in 1952, and the first breakfast was celebrated in 1953, and since then every president has attended the event in Washington D.C.

“For some people, prayer is just another form of just saying that they are thinking about people. We hear it a lot in the South, ‘You’re in our thoughts and prayers.’ But to the American Soldier, prayers are an entirely different concept to them,” said Col. Stuart J. McRae, garrison commander, remarking on the importance of the day.

Chaplain (Maj.) Chris Offen prayed for God’s presence among America’s Soldiers, and for them to be the best Soldiers and the best Americans.

Chaplain (Maj.) Everett Franklin prayed for God to bless the nation with a rich land and a rich future.

Chaplain (Capt.) Troy Allan thanked God for military Families and their selfless support to their Soldiers.

“Thank you for their persistence and dedication in the face of so many difficulties. I ask that you bless them for their sacrifices,” he prayed. “Be with those who are in harm’s way. Comfort those who are fearful and lonely. Bring courage in times of difficulty and love in times of hatred.”

Newton spoke at the event as the main speaker, remarking on how ice not only has been affecting daily commutes to work, power to homes and businesses, and emergencies at hospitals, but that ice and prayer can go together.

“When I am driving on ice, I know I am praying,” he joked. “Prayer is the only thing that keeps your tires to the road, nothing else can. On the other side of ice, though, you have fire, and often they go together.”

He quoted Robert Frost’s “Fire and Ice,” remarking on how the poet said the world might end.

“He got his inspiration from Dante Alighieri. And what he was remarking on was the character of people, including clergy,” said Newton, before remarking on a story of Elijah who struggled with the prophets of Baal.

According to Newton, Elijah delivered the word to a king about a drought, and when the drought happened the king said that Elijah had caused it. When Elijah said that the kingdom’s behavior had caused the disaster and that he knew how to fix it, the people refused.

He quoted 1 Kings, verse 18:1-41, and told the story of how Elijah proved to the people of Samaria that his God was the true God.

“So we are here today to pray for our nation, for our leadership, for our Army, and we have heard the prayers, but there needs to be more private prayers,” he said at the end of the sermon. “We need to be involved, and we need to really care about what God wants us to really do and he wants us to give him a reason to, just like Elijah.

“God needs a way to fellowship with men; he wants us to encourage him to bless us. He is looking for men who are seeking him,” continued Newton.

Newton said the warning of Elijah carries into the prayer of Saint Michael, the patron saint of Aviation.

“What I find fascinating is that the prayer is about the battle between good and evil,” he said. “God wants to do good things for those who seek him. God cannot stand those who are lukewarm, he doesn’t mention fire or ice.

“So what do we have to do?” he continued. “We have to find something we are passionate about in this world, like Elijah, and use it to spread God’s word and use it to serve him. How else are we going to fight evil with Saint Michael?” 

Newton ended by saying that Aviation is built on great science, but that it is the pilot’s faith that keeps the helicopters in the air.

This article was originally published at

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