St. Luke’s Episcopal Church reaches out to Camp Dodge
In previous “Faith” articles from St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Pastor Martha Kester’s additional calling as a Chaplain in the Iowa National Guard with the rank of Captain, was discussed. She deployed with the Iowa National Guard for a year in Afghanistan as part of the 334th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team in the 34th Infantry Division. She was in Afghanistan from Fall, 2010, to July, 2011. Pastor/Captain Kester continues to do her weekend duty once per month as well as her two weeks “annual training”, at often distant locations.
The congregation at St. Luke’s wanted to support her military “side”; and one way to do that has been to back her as she conducts services at the Camp Dodge Chapel for soldiers’ spiritual needs. Two services including Holy Communion have been held since Spring, 2014. Additional tentative dates in 2015 are January 11 and April 19. Because Camp Dodge does not have a large permanent duty station contingent, services are timed to when there is a large number of units from across the state and country doing either their weekend or annual training.
The Chapel is a lovely building that has a beautiful view of the Camp Dodge area. It boasts an excellent organ/piano instrument; full kitchen, social room, and, of course, the worship area. Pastor Kester works closely with the full time chaplain who is assigned to Camp Dodge to determine the best date for services.
The Holy Communion services are scheduled at 8:00am so that they are completed prior to the start of training day activities. (Yes, the National Guard has a full day of training on Sundays!) Instead of Holy Communion at 8:00 at St. Luke’s, Morning Prayer is provided by one of St. Luke’s parishioners for those who would rather worship at St. Luke’s. Of course, no service is complete without coffee and refreshments provided St. Luke’s congregation, following the service.
This activity has provided meaningful support for the soldiers around Iowa and the country, who come to the service; allows Pastor Kester to minister to her soldiers; and it provides a way for St. Luke’s Episcopal to live St. Luke’s mission: to enlarge the Kingdom of God through our common witness and to teach the truth of Christ.
By Jim McLallen, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, 515-277-0875