The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Letters of a Lutheran Army chaplain

Fort McClellan, Ala., Feb. 15, 1942
"This is Sunday afternoon after ... church services which went over successfully, if I can believe my Colonel who was there. But much work must be done to bring out the boys. ... Yesterday I met a group of 500 draftees at the depot. It is very sad and I sometimes feel like running away from such dreadful scenes, lost and forgotten. I announced myself to them as a Lutheran and Protestant chaplain. They know that they will probably be pushed into war. ... I wish the Lord would make many pastors willing to take on this work here. How they are needed."

Fort McClellan, Ala., Feb. 22, 1942
"I am exceedingly happy with the large number of soldiers who attended services this morning. ... The soldiers, too, told me again and again that they enjoyed the services. ... I gave them the Bible, sin, grace, love, all from the Bible and I am satisfied ... that is what they want and need. ... I am so glad that we have the WORD to give."

Fort McClellan, Ala., March 31, 1942
"I have been working on my monthly report which goes in to the Chief of Chaplains tomorrow. I think it is a good report and that gives me much satisfaction, a report in terms of souls saved and many having been preached to. That is about all the chaplain does. He is perfectly safe in the army if he takes care of that work since that is what the Chief wants. ... You should see what some of these men must endure and how they have to sacrifice for this war effort. I can and I always will be what a soldier is expected to be--ready at all times to take it without a whimper. ..."

Fort McClellan, Ala., April 12, 1942
"One train came in filled with men from New York ... very few Protestants among them. Then came another trainload--a whole battalion. What a line that was marching in the dark to a place where they could be halted, lined up according to names, and marched to our regiment. I never saw such a long train and so many getting off. ... I could have stayed at home and met them in the morning some time but I know just how much these men appreciate having a chaplain around who greets them and gives them permission to smoke and even the high-ranking officers do not contest my permission. That tickles these men. Just these few friendly greetings and telling them that they are in a fine regiment does their hearts lots of good and gives them zest to march. ... I feel that I would be doing wrong by not being there."

Fort McClellan, Ala., Feb. 8, 1943
"The men who have come in yesterday and today are so young that it almost seemed pathetic to take them away from home. They are really homesick and I have been working on them all morning and plenty to do before they get lined up. Some of them are just little babies not very much older-looking than Teddy--cute. I would like to take them into my hut and just adopt them. They need a kind of daddy badly. The last group came in at 2:30 this morning, beaten and bruised mentally."

Check out this week's articles:

cover3The Lutheran sense of vocation: (right) It's key for ELCA colleges and ELCA faculty at secular schools.

Transformation in Iraq: Lessons of war matter, but so does staying open to God's teaching today.

Pay(ing) pal: Two teenagers a world apart attend school--one paying for the other.

Celebration of art: For 15 years St. Louis museum has displayed work from various faith traditions.

Also: My retirement detour.

Also: A 'phenomenal' woman.

Also: In San Diego, a campus ministry.

Read these articles at our front page ...

Discuss Vocation at ELCA colleges:Rambachan

Today through Nov. 18: Join Anantanand Rambachan (above right) and Bruce W. Benson (below right), both of St. Olaf College, Northfield, Minn. to discuss vocation at ELCA colleges and universities.

They'll lead a discussion about how a sense of vocation is key for ELCA colleges and ELCA Benson faculty at secular schools.

Consider reading "The Lutheran sense of vocation" before joining in.

Join the discussion ...


Last chance to tell us: Why worship?

The following questions could be for you or for someone you know if you're willing to pass them along:

So you prefer the Church of the Holy Comforter (the one on your bed)?

• If you used to be a regular worshiper, what made you stop?
• How do you feel about your decision?
• If you go occasionally, what draws you?
• What do you miss or not miss?
• How do you tend to your spiritual needs?
• What would bring you back to worship?

Respond to any or all of these questions in 400 words or less to julie.sevig@thelutheran.org.

This is your last chance to provide feedback. The deadline is Monday, Nov. 17.

Julie Sevig
This week on our blog:

Sonia Solomonson blogs about the end of the election season.

Julie Sevig (right) blogs about prayers for Obama.
Andrea Pohlmann blogs about the Christmas season.

Check out our staff blog ...

The November issue of The Little Lutheran has arrived!

Don't let them miss another issue.Nov LL

The Little Lutheran helps children 6 and younger learn about God's love for them and the world in which they live. It teaches them about Jesus, their friend and savior.

Adults, you will want this for the children in your life. Pastors and congregations, you will want this for education and evangelism. See how you can subscribe for nearly half the price.

Subscribe today ...


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Embracing diversity