Chaplain (Col.) Dean Bonura, U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker garrison chaplain, leads the National Day of Prayer service at the Headquarters Chapel May 5. (Photo by Nathan Pfau)
Published: May 13, 2016
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (May 13, 2016) -- During uncertain times filled with hardship and stress, many seek prayer as a means of solace.
Fort Rucker held its National Day of Prayer service at the Headquarters Chapel May 5 as a means to give those on the installation a chance to pray with others and help unify the spiritual bond between brothers and sisters in arms, as well as those who aren’t in harm’s way, said Chaplain (Col.) Dean Bonura, U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker garrison chaplain who led the service.
Throughout the service, hymns were sung, scriptures were read and prayers were made for the world, the nation, the state and local communities, Soldiers and military families, and also individual needs and concerns.
“We wanted to take a few minutes this afternoon to pray and encourage (others) to pray throughout the day because there are lots of things to pray for,” he said during the service. “Certainly our country needs prayer, our Army needs prayer and our leaders need prayer.”
The chaplain spoke about leaders who’d made public acts of faith alongside their Soldiers in previous wars, and said that he had seen leaders do similar things with Soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well, and felt that these public displays of faith had a positive effect on morale.
The chaplain continued by reminding the congregation of the scriptures, saying if people trust in the Lord with all their hearts, seek Him out and acknowledge Him, He will direct their paths.
“Thank you for the promises that you have given us – promises to walk with us and to help us and empower us,” he said. “We ask for those things, among so many other things today, but be with us now during this service, and use us for your glory and praise.”
The National Day of Prayer was initiated in 1952 by Conrad Hilton and then-Senator Frank Carlson of Kansas, and was passed into public law that the president of the United States was to set aside one day during the year, other than a Sunday, as a National Day of Prayer, according to the National Day of Prayer website at www.nationaldayofprayer.org. It wasn’t until 1988 that Ronald Reagan signed the law dedicating the first Thursday in May as the annual observance for the day.
The National Day of Prayer was also observed at the Pentagon as an interfaith activity, capping a week of services for a number of faiths, including Sikh, Buddhist, Muslim, Jewish and Christian.
“Providing for the free exercise of religion for all of our faith groups has always been part of our mandate as chaplains,” said Col. Kenneth Williams, Pentagon chaplain.
Williams said he and his fellow chaplains are continuing to reach out to more and more service personnel of different faiths, to ensure they are able to practice the free exercise of religion.
While there are Army chaplains representing many different faiths, at some smaller installations, that may not be the case, he said.
However, garrison or installation chaplains, “can find someone in that faith group who we can endorse as a lay leader for that faith group,” Williams said. That person can be from the local community or even a local service member.
“There are subject-matter experts in various faith groups that we count on to provide us guidance” to military personnel, no matter where they’re stationed. “So yes, we have that capability to network.
“The feedback we’ve been receiving from various faith groups of military personnel has been very positive,” Williams said. “They’ve been very appreciative for us having concerns about them, ensuring they are recognized and having all the resources they need to practice their faith.”
This article was originally published at https://www.army.mil/article/167865/
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