The Mission of the Protestant Chapel

There are not enough military chapels or chaplains to provide separate, distinctive worship opportunities for every member of every Protestant denomination in existence. By one count, there are over 8000 Protestant denominations.

In general, most military installations offer a number of non-denominational Christian services – sometimes called General Protestant or Collective Protestant – in a variety of worship styles.  By non-denominational, I don’t mean “independent non-denominational,” which itself describes one particular stream within Christianity. Ecumenical or multi-denominational might be a better way of describing them. Baptists, Pentecostals, independents and so-called “Mainline” Christians worship side-by-side. Individual Protestant congregations usually get tagged with labels like “traditional,” “gospel,” “contemporary,” “multicultural”  or “liturgical.” The distinctions are more stylistic than strictly theological, although there is some correlation between the participants’ theology and the services they choose to attend. Some smaller installations might only be able to offer one or two styles of Protestant services; larger installations can offer more choices. Larger installations may also have a Lutheran congregation (mabye LCMS, maybe ELCA), an Episcopalian congregation and a lay-led LDS group. In general, all the other non-Catholic and non-Orthodox Christians attend one of the “Protestant” congregations (if, that is, they attend worship on post).

Anyway, that’s all background for sharing with you the mission statement of one Protestant congregation that I served as senior pastor:

The mission of the Soldier Memorial Chapel Protestant Congregation is to be the church of Jesus Christ. Our congregation serves as the temporary spiritual home for a wide variety of Christians brought together in this place by military service. We welcome the diverse gifts that our constituents bring to our congregation from their various Christian traditions.

We proclaim the good news of Christ crucified and risen for the salvation of the world. We expect to experience the grace and power of God in our common life. We challenge each other to live lives of deeply committed discipleship. We humbly covenant together to hear God’s word in Holy Scripture. We seek to grow in faith – and in Christian love for each other and for the community in which we live.

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