By Staff Sgt. Veronica McNabb
184th Sustainment Command
A Mississippi Army National Guard unit ministry team takes "preaching to the choir" to a new level by using Army video teleconference capabilities to offer services for warfighters throughout the Middle East.
Lt. Col Terry Partin, command chaplain of the 184th Sustainment Command, and his unit ministry team, took a simple suggestion and now can reach Soldiers without a chapel or a ministry team available at their location.
"I have tried to do something similar in the last two deployments," said Partin. "Once we began our regular service, Command Sgt. Maj. Little (184th senior enlisted advisor) suggested that we video teleconference it so that anyone who is in a remote location that doesn't have a chaplain on their base or working could listen or watch if they desired."
The U. S. military places a high value on religious accommodation and service member's right to observe the beliefs of their respective religions, or to observe no religion at all.
"The Army is very serious about service members having the opportunity to the free exercise of their religion." Partin said. "The preferred method would be in person, but with the VTC, this offers the opportunity to worship anywhere, even from your desk."
During the session Soldiers near and far can join in singing and follow scripture thanks to the VTC capabilities; unfortunately, it does have it's restrictions — the ability offer religious rites, sacraments, and ordinances with remote locations.
"In my sixteen years as a chaplain, this is a first for me. It is an extension of our regular service that others have an opportunity to take part in." said Partin. "I would like to be able to have face to face (time) with Soldiers, but I am extremely thankful that due to our situation we can offer these services to them."
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