It takes less than 24 hours for a warrior to come home after serving in Iraq or Afghanistan. But the real journey home takes much, much longer. Many veterans carry with them memories of those who have died in war and the trials of homecoming. So what can the Church do?
On Sunday, August 21st, at 1600 at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Columbia, SC, Hospitaller of St. Martin Brother, John Moock, the Rev. Canon Dane Boston, and the Rev. David Peters, Iraq veteran and founder of the Episcopal Veterans Fellowship, led a Pilgrimage of Remembrance and Reconciliation for veterans and those who love them.
The Pilgrimage happened in the Cathedral nave, where we honor and remember those who have died as well as use the resources of the Church to address our own moral injury. The Pilgrimage took about an hour and was open to veterans of any conflict, current or former members of the military, family members of veterans, and anyone who cares for those who have borne the battle.
It was a holy event with veterans from World War II to Iraq. It was very moving to witness veterans writing down their moral injuries and seeing them burn in the incense thurible. The acrid smoke of the burning paper turned to the healing scent of incense. Frankincense is made by cutting the bark of a frankincense bush with a small knife. Sap flows out of the wound and forms a gooey resin that is collected and dried. This is the gospel in action. All healing agents flow from wounds–the wounds in the hands, feet, and side of Jesus and the wounds of veterans who have participated in war. For more pictures, please check out the EVF–South Carolina Facebook page.
Click here to see the PBS video about the Pilgrimage of Remembrance and Healing at the National Cathedral.
Stations on The Pilgrimage Home From War: Station One
Please contact David Peters with any questions:
call or text 512-571-4124
The 2017 Tactical Retreat took place at the Pax Christi House in Brenham, Texas December 1-2, 2017. We had such a good time last year and we wanted to do it again in 2017! Bishop James Magness joined us again. Several attended who are interested in being members of the Hospitallers of St. Martin.
On March 4-5, 2016 19 veterans gathered in at the Pax Christi Convent in Brenham, TX for a retreat. The retreat was blessed by the Rt. Rev. James Magness, Bishop of the Armed Forces and Federal Chaplaincies. It was a wonderful time of fellowship, stories, worship, and planning for the future.
The Rt. Rev. James Magness, Bishop of the Armed Forces, at our 2016 Tactical Retreat in Brenham, TX March 4-5, 2016. Bishop Magness is a Vietnam Veteran who served as an enlisted Sailor in the Navy and as a Navy Chaplain.
THE EPISCOPAL VETERANS FELLOWSHIP
CREATE YOUR STORY with ELIZABETH DECKER
This 2016 art and writing workshop gave Episcopal Veterans Fellowship participants an opportunity to express their stories with powerful words and bold colors. They reflected, created and connected to their personal stories through freestyle, stream of consciousness writing exercises. Each session focused on a different theme, resulting in a piece of writing and a piece of art at the end. A chapbook (below) was created and shared at the 2016 Veterans Conference on Moral Injury hosted by Episcopal Veterans Fellowship.
Brandy Carpenter, Robert Goodacre, Dwight A. Gray, Tony Hathaway, Frank Hutchison, William Livingood, David Peters, Bill Smith, and Lynn Smith-Henry
As a fellow veteran having completed the Diocese of Texas sponsored Formation in Direction (FIND) program, Episcopal Veteran Scott Beachy believes that he could offer spiritual direction to a member of The Episcopal Veterans Fellowship who might be interested in deepening his or her spiritual journey. If you are a veteran or the loved one of a veteran who is interested in spiritual direction (at no cost), please contact Scott at email@example.com. For more information, click here to visit the Formation in Direction (FIND) website.
Louis W. (Jody) Fry, Ph.D., Professor at Texas A&M University – Central Texas, also completed the FIND spiritual direction training program. He is interested in working with veterans as a spiritual director.
Jody teaches management and leadership in our MS Management and Leadership at Texas A&M University to many students who are mid career-military or military retirees. Therefore, he is familiar with many of the challenges they face after four or more deployments. Please contact Jody at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Safe Area is an outreach and support group for both active military and military veterans of any time period. The group is facilitated by peers, in the company of peers. Active military personnel and military veterans challenged by transitioning into civilian life, balancing military, civilian and family life, or integrating the experiences of military service and conflict, are invited. This circle of friends helps with transition, recovery, integration of experiences, identification of resources, and offers strength in a secure location.
The Safe Area holds meetings on the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays of the month, from 7 – 8:30 PM on the second floor of Faith Hall, St. John’s Episcopal Church, La Porte, Texas.
Whether dealing with postwar or non-conflict-related difficulties, all are welcome in this circle of mutual friends.
Meetings are confidential and are not affiliated with the Veterans Administration or other federal, state, or local government agencies. Participants must sign an agreement to maintain confidentiality with regard to conversations shared in meetings.
Refreshments are provided by group members, volunteering in rotation. Occasionally, meals will be served by the parish. All will be welcome join in St. John’s fellowship at other times. Persons of any faith group, any belief system or none, are invited to this community space.
Wayne Norton (US Marine Corps) and Jorge Mazariegos (US Army) are trained to provide pastoral assistance through The Good Shepherding School for Lay Pastoral Ministry, based at St. John’s. All facilitators have received a certificate in Military Veteran Peer Network Basic Training, Texas Veterans Commission and the Military Veteran Peer Network.
St. John’s Episcopal Church has access to licensed mental health professionals in the event of a need for referral. In addition, the pastor of St. John’s serves as supervising chaplain of the outreach program. The Rev. Viktoria Gotting is director of The Good Shepherding School, has served for many years as a health care chaplain, and is trained in first-response, PTSD sensitivity, and post-traumatic pastoral care. All facilitators are also in the process of continuing facilitator training as provided and supported through Veteran Support Services, Gulf Coast Center.
The Safe Area and The Safe Area 2
A Mission of St. John’s Episcopal Church
815 South Broadway @ Avenue G
La Porte, Texas 77571