By Rev. Austin Miles
In a colorful ceremony complete with pageantry, on Sunday, September 25th, 21 chaplains were certified for duty in the East Bay area of Northern California. The sacred and joyful event began with this writer (who founded the East Bay Chaplains and trained them), starting the ceremony with a brief talk and opening prayer, then introduced Priscilla Martinez who had been appointed as the new Chaplain Instructor.
Following her informative address, Priscilla next introduced the graduates. General Dan Helix and Colonel Timothy Vaughn, both in dress uniforms, led the processional. After each was standing in place, the certificates were presented.
General Helix gave the keynote address which was interrupted several times with appreciative applause. Then, in a totally unexpected move, The General called this writer up, “Front and Center.” to present an award certificate and medal-of-honor for having organized and taught the original chaplain classes.
Pastor Felix Golden, who graciously hosted this event in his church, His Presence Christian Worship Center, the home church of Chaplain Priscilla and 17 of the new chaplains, wrapped it up with a brief but very meaningful talk. And the entire event packed with action, went exactly one hour. Two other churches were represented, as well, including His Praise in Antioch and the Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter Day Saints in Oakley.
The East Bay Chaplains play a vital role in Contra Costa County. Their motto is: Stand Ready, Be Prayed Up, and Keep the Vessel Clean.
Several have already received assignments. New chaplain Felicia Purcell, dressed in colorful African apparel, is being asked to be the chaplain for the wives and family members the Golden State Warriors basketball team.
Joan Segura is already officially the Chaplain for El Pueblo low-income housing in Pittsburg. Christian Rap Artist George Miller and his wife, Salena Boatner-Miller will be chaplains for their concerts while Bill and Julie Swenson who both were certified, work as a team to broaden their ministry to the homeless and addicts.
Olga Chavez and her husband Jose Chavez are looking to take their ministry back to their homeland Peru when Jose retires. Jeffery Robinson is interested in serving in a prison ministry. John Foster plans to work with addicts. Tim Vaughn works with veterans and holds a position with East Bay Chaplains. Pat Martin will use her new position as part of her counseling ministry. Karen Manuel has been working with Visions Beyond Borders helping where needed and will be taking her ministry to Southeast Asia, Thailand, Nepal, Burma, India Laos, Cambodia, Cuba and Romania. Kermese Harrell, who is 80-years-old mentors young women.
All others will be placed, some with Instructor Priscilla, who is chaplain of Shepherd’s Gate, a home for battered women and children. And this is just the beginning.
At the end of the service there was a long standing ovation. The chaplain’s motto is: “To serve others at their time and place of need.”
It is a totally devoted ministry where they willingly give up all rights to themselves to always be available to others. There is no such thing as convenience for chaplains. They are there for the convenience of others who need them, often at a split second notice. It is a totally unselfish endeavor that places all others before themselves.
This new class is an example of diversity at its best, with graduates coming from all backgrounds and a couple from different countries. Each one would be a welcome addition to any community.
“I am looking forward to see these new chaplains ministries grow and helping them along the way,” said Chaplain Priscilla Martinez. “I feel so honored to know each one of them.”
Priscilla Martinez contributed to this article.