Saturday, December 1, 2007

UUA Announces Policy on Military Chaplaincy Endorsement

The Unitarian Universalist Association has placed on their website ( the official policies for the endorsement and support of Military Chaplains and Chaplain Candidates. UUMM was a part of the drafting of the policy proposal to the UUA which has now been adopted.

Those policies can be found here.

If you are interested in persuing a call to the military chaplaincy of the Unitarian Univesalist Faith, these policies will let you know what the requirements are, how you begin the process, and what other considerations you need to be aware of as you begin this path.

UUMM would like to thank the UUA, Rev. Beth Miller, and Rev. Lisa Presley for all their work to re-draft and announce these policies... and for the faith and support of the vocation of military chaplaincy that is represented by them.

Yours in Faith,

David Pyle

Monday, September 3, 2007

Two UU's Graduate from the U.S. Army Chaplain Basic Officer Leader Course

On Friday, August 31st, two Unitarian Universalists graduated from the Chaplain Basic Officer Leader Course of the U.S. Army Chaplain Center and School at Ft. Jackson, SC.

Chaplain (CPT) George Tyger (left) is a 14 year "veteran" of the Unitarian Universalist ministry, who prior to following the call into the U.S. Army Chaplaincy served as the senior minister of the First Universalist Church of Rochester, NY. Chaplain Tyger has been accepted onto active duty, and will be serving the spiritual needs of soldiers at Ft. Hood, TX. This is Chaplain Tyger's second time in the military, having served before as an infantry soldier.

2LT David Pyle (right) is a third year seminarian at the Meadville Lombard Theological School, and a Chaplain Candidate. David will be serving the next year as the ministerial intern of the Unitarian Church of Evanston, Illinois. After completing seminary and fellowship, David hopes to be accepted onto active duty. David is a prior service Army intelligence analyst.
They are pictured above with the class gift, presented to the school, of an American flag placed over the words of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The gift is intended as a reminder to future classes of Chaplains and Chaplain Candidates that the purpose and mission of the U.S. Army Chaplaincy is to protect the free exercise of religion in the Army, not to prostelytize for any particular faith group or denomination.

The Chaplain Officer Basic Leaders Course is a 12 week intensive course in the role and duties of an Army Chaplain. The course seeks to teach how to minister in the unique, complex, and pluralistic environment of the U.S. Army. The course includes instruction in how to survive as a non-combatant during war, certifications as instructors in family wellness, military memorial and worship ceremonies, military ethics, counseling soldiers and their families, the role of a staff officer, and much more. Physical fitness, field exercises, and attendence at almost a hundred different worship services are also a part of the training.

David and George graduated as a part of what is the largest class of Chaplains and Chaplain Candidates in over 25 years.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

UUA Endorser Visits U.S. Army Chaplain Center and School

On the 11th and 12th of July, 2007 the Rev. Beth Miller, the Director of Ministry and Professional Leadership (top center) and Rev. Lisa Presley, the Chair of the Committee on Military Ministry (top left), visited the U.S. Army Chaplain Center and School at Ft. Jackson, SC.

This historic visit was commemorated with the hanging of an "Endorser's Banner" in the hall of banners at the Center and School. Though the UUA has long been represented in Army Chaplaincy, this is the first time that the symbol of our faith has joined those of other Chaplaincy Endorsers. The banner was received for the school by CH (COL) David Kenehan (top right), the Deputy Commandant of the Chaplain Center and School.

This summer is a historic time at the U.S. Army Chaplain Center and School for Unitarian Universalism. Two Unitarian Universalists are students at the Chaplain Officer Basic Leaders Course this summer: CH (CPT) George Tyger (bottom left) formerly the minister of the Universalist Church of Rochester, and 2LT David Pyle (bottom right) a third year student at the Meadville Lombard Theological School.

Also, this summer marked the retirement ceremony of our senior Unitarian Universalist Minister serving as a Military Chaplain, CH (COL) Vernon Chandler (2nd from left) after 32 years of military service as a chaplain.

Rev. Miller and Rev. Presley met with the Deputy Commandant of the Chaplain Center and School, attended a prayer breakfast organized by students of the school (and led by CH Tyger), toured Ft. Jackson and the Chaplain's Museum, as well as had in-depth discussions with CH Chandler, CH Tyger, and 2LT Pyle about the need for an increased liberal religious voice in our military chaplaincy.

UUMM would like to thank Beth Miller and Lisa Presley for their visit, and their dedication to this important ministry of our faith!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

UU's in the Military Workshop at General Assembly 2007

If you are going, or considering going to the UUA General Assembly in Portland Oregon from June 20th to the 24th, please join us at the following workshop entitled "Military and UUism: Respecting Inherent Worth?"

Workshop time: Saturday 10:45 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
Workshop title: #4023 Military and UUism: Respecting Inherent Worth?
Sponsored by: UUA Staff
Description: Congregations struggle to understand how to support military members and their families. Often times, our attitudes and/or behaviors inadvertently say to them, "You are not welcome." Why so? What can we do differently? We explore this reality, recent survey data on UU attitudes and real-lived experiences of UU military families.

Workshop leaders: Rev. Cynthia Kane, Dr. Vince Patton, Rev. Lisa Presley, and Rev. Beth Miller
For more information on General Assembly, Please visit the following link

Saturday, April 7, 2007


Hello Fellow UU's in the Military!

I have a few news items to share with you from Unitarian Universalist Military Ministries, about different developing events among our growing and burgeoning group of Military UU's.

First, I would like to offer welcome and congratulations to Rev. George Tyger, who has been selected to become a U.S. Army Chaplain with the rank of Captain. Rev. Tyger is currently the senior minister of the First Universalist Church of Rochester, NY. He will be attending the Chaplains training course at Ft. Jackson this summer, and will be going on Active Duty with the Army. Rev. Tyger is a prior service enlisted army soldier.

Second, I would like to update you all on the progress of the new policy initiative for how the UUA both endorses and supports our military chaplains and chaplaincy candidates. The draft policy has been approved by the Ministry and Professional Leadership Staff Group of the UUA, and will be officially unveiled at General Assembly. It involves a more structured application and approval process for endorsement as military chaplains, and approval for seminary students to participate in the Chaplain Candidate programs. It also calls for the creation of a new Committee on Military Ministry (CMM) within the UUA. The commitee will initially be chaired by Rev. Lisa Presley, and will coordinate the endorsement process, as well as provide regular contact and support to our serving military and federal chaplains and chaplaincy candidates. The membership of the Committee is being recruited by the UUA as we speak.

Third, I would like to point you all towards an article about myself and Maj. Seanan Holland that has appeared in yesterday's online edition of UU World, on the subject of military chaplain candidacy.

I'm sure that there are alot of other wonderful things going on out there, but I am going to try to post a quick article from UUMM every couple of months on developments at the UUA level in relation to the military and military ministry. If anyone has any news they would like to share with me, please do so at .

Yours in Faith,
2LT David Pyle
USAR Chaplaincy Candidate
Student, Meadville Lombard Theological School

Friday, January 19, 2007

How does a UU become a Military Chaplain?

Though there is a long history of Unitarian and Universalist ministers serving as chaplains in the military, there are very few such chaplains right now. The reasons for this are varied, but the need for liberal religious chaplains in our military is greater now than ever.

If you are considering a call to the Unitarian Universalist ministry, consider if that ministry might not be found within the ranks of the military.

Right now, a policy working group is meeting, with the approval of the UUA Ministry and Professional Leadership Staff Group, to evaluate and re-draft the UUA policies on how military chaplains are endorsed and supported by the UUA. As this policy review is ongoing, the details of this reveiw are not currently available. But the following are the general outlines of how the process is likely to be conducted.

(That group has since completed its work, and the new policies can be found at )

First, all UU Military Chaplains are required to fulfill all of the same requirements and standards of all Unitarian Universalist Ministers. This includes a Masters of Divinity degree, completion of a Clinical Pastoral Education course, and successful completion of the UUA Ministerial Fellowship process. For more information on these requirements, and how the process can be started, please visit the UUA Ministerial Credentialing Website.

There are two different ways to pursue receiving an endorsement as an ordained and fellowshipped UU Military Chaplain. These are the Chaplaincy Candidate Program, and direct endorsement as a Military Chaplain.

Each of the military services maintains a way to begin your training as a military chaplain while you are still pursuing your Masters of Divinity degree. These Chaplaincy Candidate Programs are supported by the UUA as a way to both discern your call to military chaplaincy, as well as to train and form for this ministry. Participation in this program means you spend your summers during seminary serving and training on active duty. Each military branch has a selection process for this program, and the UUA requires that you go through an associational approval process as well, including an application, essays on military chaplaincy, and possibly an in-person interview. Completion of the Chaplaincy Candidate program would allow the candidate to be considered for an endorsement to military chaplaincy after recieving fellowship.

If you have already received fellowship from the UUA, and wish to be considered for an endorsement to Military Chaplaincy, then the process will involve an application, a series of essays on the nature of military chaplaincy, an interview with a committe on military ministry to be designated by the UUA, and completion of any and all requirements of the military.

When the new policies for the endorsment and support of Military Chaplaincy are approved at General Assembly in 2007, UUMM will publicize them, and make the process described here more explicit. However, the idea of the policy review is to make the process more accessable, while at the same time maintaining a high level of standards for those called and endorsed to serve as Unitarian Universalist Military Chaplains. If you have specific questions, or are interested in pursuing a call to UU Military Chaplaincy, please contact .

Websites of interest:

U.S. Army Chaplaincy Recruiting Website

U.S. Navy Chaplaincy Recruiting Website

U.S. Air Force Chaplaincy Recruiting Website

U.S. Coast Guard Chaplains Website

What does it mean to be a UU who serves in the military?

Just as there are many different ways in which all Unitarian Universalists find connection to our liberal religious faith, there are also many different reasons why some UU's find their vocation in the Military. These are a few of the more common answers to this question.

For some UU's the experiences they have had while serving in the military are what has brought them to their Unitarian Universalist faith. Serving overseas with the military will often bring someone face to face with war, with human rights abuses, with hatred, with poverty, and with the responsibility that we have to the rest of the world. For these military UU's, service in the military not only is the basis of their liberal faith, but can also be how they live their faith, by working through the military to address some of these global social concerns.

Some UU's who serve in the military find in that service an expression of the separation of Church and State, a touchstone of liberal religious faith. For these UU's their religious life is separate from their military career, and in doing so they are able to be ethical presences within the military in a way that maintains the essential authenticity they need in both their religious faith as well as in their military service.

Some military UU's find the motivation for their service in the belief that the military needs the diversity of liberal religious voices from many traditions, Unitarian Universalism among them. Without such voices, the military will find it difficult to live up to the standards of religious pluralism that is written into military policy and regulations. The only answer to the perception of the increase of conservative religious views within the military is for liberal religionists to be willing to serve.

There are many other reasons that a Unitarian Universalist might find their vocation in the military: they might have a family tradition of such service, they might have chosen to serve for the economic or education benefits, they might have chosen to serve because being a liberal and being a patriot can still be the same thing. For whatever the reason, many UU's find their life's vocation within the ranks of the Military, and UU Military Ministries is dedicated to supporting them on their religious path.

But, beyond those who serve on active duty or in the reserves, there are also many UU families who have military members serving, be they spouses, parents, or children. These families need support as well, especially in this time of war. Also, there are many more veterans in our congregations than might first be apparent, partially because it may not always be apparent to our UU Military Veterans that their military service is accepted within our congregations. In truth, we should be seeking to learn from the experience of these military veteran UU's in our congregations, while at the same time realizing that many of these veterans still carry spiritual and physical wounds from their time in military service. Our congregations need to learn to better minister to these veterans.

The next twenty years will see a spiritual crisis in the lives of the men and women serving in the current combat operations around the world, and Unitarian Universalism can present a healing message of love, community, and transformation in their lives and the lives of their families. Many UU's with experience in the military may find their call to ministry (ordained or not) in helping to minister to those returning from our current wars. If we are to address this need, Unitarian Universalism needs to turn to our veterans and equip them for this ministry.

These, among others, are some of the reasons for the importance of Unitarian Universlist Military ministries. If you are a serving military member, a veteran, or a spouse, then perhaps you would like to connect to other UU's in the military at . If your congregation would like to start a military ministry, or already have one, please contact UUMM at .

There is one other reason that some UU's serve in the military, including myself. And that is love. Not love of war, but of those women and men who choose to stand between their beloved homes and the desolation and hell that is war. That is my call to military ministry.

Yours in faith,

David Pyle
2LT, USAR Chaplaincy Candidate

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Great Lakes RTC Ministry Project

Beginning January 28th, 2007, students of the Meadville Lombard Theological School, in coordination with the UUMM and the Unitarian Church of Evanston, IL, will begin presenting Sunday morning UU worship services at the Great Lakes Naval Recruit Training Center in Great Lakes, Illinios.

Approximately 40,000 naval recruits per year train at the Great Lakes RTC, and the chapel on post presents over 30 worship services each and every Sunday. The goal of the Great Lakes Ministry Project is not only to provide UU services for sailors who are already UU's, but also to provide an opportunity for those interested in our faith to attend UU Worship, and to learn more about our movement of religious liberalism. This project presents us with the opportunity to reach more than 1,000 young women and men per year with a message of Unitarian Univeralsim.

The project also provides for our Meadville Lombard seminary students valuable experience at the practical aspects of ministry, leading worship, and chaplaincy. Funded initially by collections taken at the Unitarian Church of Evanston, the students donate their time, only receiving reimbursement for travel and worship material costs.

If you would like to see some of the worship services and sermons that are being presented at the Great Lakes Recruit Training Center, then please visit The Military Chapel Services section of Celestial Lands.

We will be putting the services presented by David Pyle into that blog/journal. We will post links to the services of other project members as they become available.

If you are interested in learing more about the Great Lakes Ministry Project, or you would like to support the continuance of the project, please contact David Pyle through the UUMM website.

Welcome to the Unitarian Universalist Military Ministries Website!

Welcome to the new home of Military Ministries for the Unitarian Universalist Association!

This website serves as a way for Unitarian Universalist Chaplains, the future UU Committee on Military Ministry, and UU Military Chaplaincy Candidates to share information with our movement of religious liberalism about issues relating to UU'ism and the military. While our Chaplains will post here, we do ask that all communication with UUMM be through this website. As we have so few serving UU Military Chaplains, allowing communication to go through UUMM allows our chaplains to focus on serving the needs of our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines.

This website is also the home for several ongoing projects of UU Military Ministry, allowing those UUMM Project Associates to share information with other religious liberals on the opportunities and challenges of those projects.

Also, if you are considering serving both your faith and your country as a UU Military Chaplain, there are articles and information available on this website to assist you in decerning if this is your call to ministry. Please, if you are considering such a call, contact UUMM so we can begin to build a relationship with you.

This website is partnered with the UU's in the Military website, found at, so if you are a veteran, active duty or reserve servicemember, military spouse or family, or DoD employee, please consider becoming a contributor to that forum.

Thank you very much for your interest in UU military ministry!

Yours in Faith,

David Pyle
2LT, USAR Chaplaincy Candidate

UU Military Ministries