Congregation leaders and chaplains awarded 262 chapel volunteers for contributing more than 9,000 hours of service in 2018 at a banquet, themed “Simple Moments Change the World,” held at the Main Post Chapel May 16.
“We give thanks for all your prayers, for all the time you gave, for everything you gave up to make service possible, for all the things we know and all the things we don’t know that you have done,” Director of Religious Education Martha Strong said. “Through those many simple moments, you have changed the world for the better and you’ve planted seeds of faith in the lives of others.”
Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Jeffrey Van Ness, Maneuver Support Center of Excellence deputy chaplain, echoed Strong’s statements in the opening prayer.
“We recognize (volunteers’) crucial part in our mission and we thank (God) for their commitment that is always to the highest standards of excellence,” he said. “May they accept this banquet in recognition as our real appreciation for what they do to make ministry better all year long.”
The Youth Praise Band performed worship music following an intermission.
Chaplain (Col.) David Bowlus, MSCoE Garrison chaplain, credited good works to the volunteers responsible for them.
“None of this can happen unless God’s people do the work — that’s plan A,” he said. “There is no plan B. He puts the spirit in us, he calls us and then we go and do it.”
Bowlus described Col. Dave Caldwell, MSCoE chief of staff, as a “true servant of God,” before introducing him as the event’s keynote speaker.
Caldwell spoke from a Christian perspective, giving his background as a pastor’s son, but said “many religions hold to acts of kindness as fundamental.”
“Volunteering at the chapel is just a form of serving others as we are commanded to do in God’s word,” he said. “Some may attribute this to the Army culture or Army values, particularly selfless service, and although that mindset and trait certainly doesn’t hurt, it is a value that means nothing without action.”
He added that continuous dedication is not easy and often requires work even when it is fun.
“Serving often requires sacrifices of time, effort and resources, even when it’s enjoyable,” he said. “But serving with passion and love is different than doing a task out of duty; it’s contagious and resonates more strongly to others and helps them see God’s love.”
Caldwell invoked the theme of the event and reminded people that service can occur in small acts.
“None of us needs to be a religious hero, but each of us are called to serve others,” he said. “Thank you for reaching the lost, hopeless, discontent and those who need love.”
Bowlus praised volunteers’ dedication to planning events like this one.
“We are seeing God work in such a powerful way at Fort Leonard Wood,” he said. “You guys are all just very special to us, we are so thankful to have been a part of this congregation.”