Last Prayer

501st Change of CommandLast year on 22 July I posted about my first prayer, which wasn’t actually the first time I prayed, but my first official prayer as the Brigade Chaplain. Today, I prayed my last prayer which, undoubtedly, won’t be the last prayer I pray but my last official prayer as the Brigade Chaplain before I leave for home. This was a prayer for the brigade Change of Command ceremony, as the outgoing Brigade Commander passes authority to the incoming Brigade Commander.

Prayers are traditionally a part of military ceremonies and in my experience have not resulted in any issues; though to listen to some media reports you would think that they will be the cause the end of the civilized world.

There are a lot of customs and traditions which symbolize all sorts of history which has been preserved in military ceremonies for years, the Change of Command ceremony is no exception.

501st MI BDE Change of Command
Brigade Primary Staff (which doesn’t include the Chaplain or the Lawyer, who are both Special Staff)

The colors moving into place for the change of command
501st MI BDE Change of Command
The colors in place
501st MI BDE Change of Command
The INSCOM Commander (MG Ballard) speaking to the brigade and guests
501st MI BDE Change of Command
Outgoing brigade commander (COL Arnold) addressing the brigade and guests
501st MI BDE Change of Command
Incoming brigade commander (COL Lee) addressing the brigade and guests

The “Passing of the Colors” as part of the Change of Command ceremony

As usual, there aren’t any pictures of me praying, but that’s OK. I was there. Here’s what I prayed:

Most Gracious Heavenly Father:

Thank you for this day that you have given to us and for this occasion that brings us together which always reminds us of the strength of our military and the freedom it defends, and today, the role that the 501st plays in the defense of freedom here in Korea.

Thank you for Colonel Arnold and for his committed and faithful service as the Brigade Commander. Thank you for the positive impact he has had on the Soldiers and mission of the brigade as he has served with honor and integrity.

I pray that you will continue to be with him and his family as they move on to their next assignment here on the Peninsula. Please return to them blessing upon blessing, as they have been a blessing to so many.

I also pray that you will be with Colonel Lee as he assumes command of the brigade. Provide for him everything that he needs to serve with faithfulness, courage and integrity as he continues the great work that Colonel Arnold has begun.

Finally Lord, I pray that you will bless this time that we share together with your  presence, and pray that everything that is said and done here today will be pleasing to you, as you continue to bless us, the Republic of Korea and the United States of America.

In your precious and holy name I pray, Amen.


501st MI BDE Change of Command







First Prayer

The “official party” of the Change of Command ceremony included the brigade commander (center), the outgoing HHC commander (left) and the incoming HHC commander (right).

O.K, it wasn’t really my first prayer, but my first public prayer in my first ceremony in this assignment since I arrived in Korea.

Praying at ceremonies is the chaplain’s “bread and butter.” It is one of the things that we’re always expected to do, and it always happens without anyone giving it much thought. In fact, seldom is there a picture found, among the dozens often taken of the various ceremonies, that includes the chaplain! But that’s OK, we don’t do it for the glory or to be in the limelight, but to represent the presence of God and ask for his blessing upon the ceremony and the participants. (But if you look close in the picture, you can see my right arm and leg!).

I had the opportunity to pray today at the brigade’s Headquarters & Headquarter’s Company (HHC) change of command ceremony. Change of Command Ceremonies take place whenever one commander leaves and another arrives and assumes command. It is an Army tradition that reflects the heritage of the military and is full of traditional elements, including a prayer (sometimes two). I seldom get nervous before ceremonies or events that I am a part of but I wanted (and always want) to do a good job, representing God, the Chaplain Corps and my denomination. The first one after arriving at a unit is often the most important since it’s the first time my commander, and others in the unit, will see and hear me do what I do, so the pressure is on to do a good job. I do realize, however, that I’m not praying to any of them and the effectiveness of my prayer is not dependent on their approval or satisfaction, but at the same time, they recognize the chaplain’s prayer as representative of one of the things the chaplain brings to the unit.

My prayer went something like this:

Most Gracious Heavenly Father,

Thank you for this day and for this occasion that brings us together which reminds us not only of the strength of our military but also the peace and freedoms it preserves, not only in our country but in our host country of South Korea and in fact, around the world.

Thank you for Captain [outgoing commander], for his commitment to the unit’s mission and Soldiers over this past year. Continue to be with him as he moves on to his next assignment.

I also ask that you will add to what Captain [incoming commander] brings to the unit everything that she needs to lead with wisdom, courage and integrity as she assumes command.

Finally Lord, I pray that you will bless this time with your presence and that what we do here today will be a blessing to you.

In your name I pray, Amen.