Well, I guess it has started, I have been uninvited to pray at an event due to my opinions freely expressed on Facebook and other Social Media platforms.
I am a proud member of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War an organization that exists to honor the sacrifices of those who came before us who fought during the Civil War. I joined several years ago to honor my great, great grandfather William Henry Preble of the State of Maine. Every time I would pin the emblem of the organization on my jacket it would give me a sense of pride that I was honoring him for his service, but now that medal has been tarnished.
Several weeks ago I emailed National Chaplain Jerome W. Kowalski of Elmhurst, Illinois and offered him my assistance. I serve as Department Chaplain for the Department of Massachusetts, that’s the state level of the organization, and though it would be a nice gesture to reach out to offer my help if needed. He took up my offer and asked me to write, on occasion, for our national magazine The Banner and the website where he was putting together a “Chaplain Page” to offer the membership some meditations. He also inquired if I would be attending the Remembrance Day activities in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. I told him that I would be in attendance and he asked me to assist him at several of the ceremonies. I was to preach on Sunday morning, and Chaplain Jerry invited me to preach from one of the Psalms about brotherhood. I chose Psalm 133, “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!”
Remembrance Day is the commemoration of the dedication of the Soldiers Cemetery and the address by President Abraham Lincoln on the 19th of November 1863. The country was very divided as was involved in a war and this date commemorates the almost 51,000 men that died during the three days of battle in and around the Town of Gettysburg in July of 1863. The Schedule includes a grave marking ceremony as well as a church service on Sunday morning. I was to take part in those services until last night when Chaplain Kowalski sent me to the following message via Facebook:
“I’m withdrawing my offer to let you do any part of the chaplain’s prayers and services at Gettysburg. Your FB post are too full of messages that go against the teachings of Jesus Christ, as I understand them.”
I am saddened by this and not afraid to admit that I am a little hurt by this as well. I serve as chaplain for many organizations such as this, and one of the guiding principles of chaplaincy is that we have to be chaplain to all people regardless of whether we agree with them or not. As a military chaplain, I have to be the same chaplain for the Muslim guy, as I am for the one who follows my particular faith. In the firehouse I need to be the chaplain for all of the men and women I have the honor to serve with that is just how it is done. It is not always easy, but it is in fact part of the job.
Just like that November day in 1863 our country is divided and I hope and pray it does not come to civil war. My personal feeling is that Mr. Trump represents everything that is wrong with America and there has been nothing said or done since election night that has made me change that opinion. Jesus Christ commands that we love God and we love our neighbor, and that is what I strive to do and that is what I preach. If you feel differently about that is just fine, disagreement is part of why America is already GREAT!
I find it interesting that for the last eight years conservatives have regularly stated that their voice was being shut out of the public square but us evil liberals, now it seems my voice, my voice of prayer is being kept out. I will attend the grave marking ceremony, and I will offer a prayer, although unofficial, for those who died to ensure others would be free.
I will continue to pray for our country and I ask that you do the same.