The first-ever Operation Barnabas National Military Ministry Conference will be held Feb. 15-16 in Winter Haven, Fla.
The conference is designed to provide an opportunity for Barnabas Chapter leaders from across the country to meet, share ideas and best practices, and to network with one another, as well as bring together reserve chaplains to meet and focus on the particular needs of their ministries as they balance church and military responsibilities.
Operation Barnabas operates under the auspices of the LCMS Ministry to the Armed Forces, seeking to build a network of care for the nation’s military members and their families, with a special emphasis on reserve members and families. The ministry is named for Barnabas, Paul’s companion in the Bible. Barnabas, whose name means “son of encouragement,” helped Paul in his missionary journey.
Featured speaker on the first day of the conference will be the Rev. Dr. Steve Hokana, an active duty chaplain assigned to the U.S. Army’s Department of Pastoral Ministry Training, where he teaches chaplains and chaplain-assistants to prepare for war, war trauma and reintegration. His three presentations will focus on the spiritual care of those suffering from the effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
The following day there will be two tracks: one for Operation Barnabas chapter leaders and one for reserve chaplains.
In the first, chapter leaders and others interested in providing care to service members and their families will learn how chapters in Iowa, Florida, New Jersey, California and Michigan are reaching out to their congregation members and non-members in the military.
In the other track, reserve chaplains will receive guidance and training from senior reserve chaplains as they discuss mentoring, pastoral issues, and balancing parish and military duties. For example, ramifications from the repeal of the military’s “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy will be explored.
Chaplain Michael Moreno, project manager for Operation Barnabas, said the conference is important for many reasons.
“These warriors and their families have answered the call of their country for over 10 years now. In the public’s eyes, things are ‘winding down.’ But the support for our military, both active and reserve, has never been more crucial,” Moreno said. “Budget cuts are coming, and many family-support programs face the budget ax. We are asking LCMS members to step forward with our military and their families. Join us for this exciting conference and return to your congregations energized and ready to reach out to your neighbors — perhaps even your own sons and daughters — in uniform.”
Members of Operation Barnabas chapters include both veterans and non-veterans, or may be “people simply with a heart for those serving in uniform and their families,” he added.
There is no cost to register for the conference, which is being hosted by Grace Lutheran Church, 327 Avenue C Southeast, Winter Haven. All training materials — plus lunch on both days — will be provided. Twenty scholarships of $500 each are available to help with travel expenses. Scholarship requests will be considered on a first-come, first-served basis.
A block of hotel rooms is reserved at the Holiday Inn Express, 200 Cypress Gardens Blvd., Winter Haven (863-292-2100). Rooms are $82 with a military ID and $109 without. In addition, several members of Grace Lutheran Church also have offered to open their homes to attendees to help defray expenses.
To register, visit the Operation Barnabas website at www.operationbarnabas.org. The deadline is Feb. 1.
Posted Jan. 6, 2012