New Pilot Program debuts at 32nd Annual Navy Fleet Port Everglades
By MC2 Zachary Behrend
PORT EVERGLADES, Fla.:
Navy Recruiting Command (NRC) Chaplain Corps and Port Everglades Navy Fleet Week debuted a pilot Navy chaplain recruiting program during Fleet Week Port Everglades 2023.
Fleet Weeks routinely showcase the naval technology, capabilities of the sea services, and the service members who who defend the nation. For the first time, however, during the 32nd annual Fleet Week Port Everglades highlighted the importance and roles of the Navy's Chaplain Corps,
NRC Chaplain Corps pilot program targeted prospective chaplains by offering opportunities for VIP tours to see life on board ship from the perspective of a Navy Chaplain, speak to Sailors to learn about their needs, and receive information about accession programs.
“I believe that we have the best talent and the resources to make it a standard practice of experience for all Navy Fleet Weeks or anywhere that has Navy ships,” said Lt. Netetia Walker, the national diversity, equity, and inclusion chaplain officer programs officer. “We intentionally recruit qualified religious ministry professionals to take care of the world’s best Navy.”
The Chaplain VIPs had little to no concept how exciting, challenging and rewarding chaplaincy could be, or what ministry could entail in the Navy. The Fleet Week tours and seminar gave guests the opportunity to experience it first-hand by working with the Navy Chaplains, Sailors and Marines.
"Our guests were given a peek behind the curtain of the vital role of Navy Chaplains. I salute Port Everglades Navy Fleet Week for being a bridge of opportunity for future Chaplains to join the team of the finest Chaplain Corps making a difference in the lives of the brave women, men, and their families that serve the Navy, Marines, Coast, and Merchant Marines,” Walker said.
Prospective Navy chaplains were given exclusive tours, led by Navy chaplains, of San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock USS New York (LPD 21), Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Cole (DDG 67), and the Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport vessel USNS Newport (T-EPF 12)
"I truly enjoyed this tour experience," said Bethel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church of Pompano Beach, Florida Senior Pastor The Reverend Dr. Eddy Moise Jr. "As a result of this tour, I now see Navy chaplaincy in a new light and as an asset to the ministry."
Moise serves as the chair of the Southern Conference Board of Examiners for the AME Church. In this role, he is responsible for all ministers seeking ordination from the 60-plus churches under his supervision.
As a result of the exposure to the roles Chaplains perform, he committed to encouraging those wanting to serve as Navy Chaplains.
“I will incorporate an ongoing collaboration that will allow more ministers exposure to this critical ministry,” he said. “I will fully support every woman and man of God called to serve as a Navy chaplain. More people should.”
The Navy Chaplain Corps comprises more than 800 chaplains serving Sailors, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen of Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, and more than 100 other faith groups.
"Today we started with individuals who were uncertain about joining the chaplain corps, but we walked away with individuals who plan to go into one our accessions programs to become a chaplain," said Walker. "Whether it was working with Sailors or the Marines, we got a chance to see them get excited, get engaged in the experience, and have encounters with some of our service members.
Currently, there are several routes that people called to serve could choose from. Prospective chaplains could join while still a seminary students and commit to being a Chaplain Candidate Program Officer up to age 38 while earning their Masters of Divinity. A practicing clergy member can be a Reservist while still maintaining their current positions, or a qualified individual could join directly as an Active Duty Chaplain up to age 57.
"We all need spiritual counseling and guidance," said Navy Counselor 1st Class Raul Franco, Navy Talent Acquisition Group Miami chaplain officer recruiter. "These tours provided first-hand insight into the needs of the people they might serve as chaplains. Not only will these people understand how they can benefit our Sailors, but they will be able to disseminate that information to others who might want to serve."
Fleet Week Port Everglades is a week-long celebration hosted by Broward Navy Days and other military support organizations since 1990. It provides an opportunity for the Sailors and Marines to interact and serve in schools, local not for profit agencies, churches, etc. across the community and opportunities for citizens of South Florida to witness first-hand the latest capabilities of today's maritime services and better understand how the sea services support maritime strategy and the national defense of the U.S.
For more information, visit https://www.BrowardNavyDaysInc.org/
or on Facebook at Fleet Week Port Everglades.