Adventist military chaplains gathered for the first time at the Defence Chaplains Conference, organized and supported by the Australian Union Conference (AUC), September 7-13, 2022.
Seven military chaplains attended professional development and training seminars with Chaplain (Brigadier General) Andrew Harewood, who serves at the Pentagon; Ivan Omana, director of the General Conference Adventist Chaplaincy Ministries (ACM); and Gilda Roddy, associate director of the North American Division ACM.
Harewood and the ACM directors traveled to Australia’s capital city of Canberra and met with military chaplaincy delegates from the army, navy, and air force, as well as members from the Religious Advisory Committee to the Services (RACS) at the Mansford Theatres, Royal Military College, Duntroon. Discussions highlighted the importance of the ministry of military chaplains in Australia and its potential for growth over the next few years.
As a special guest, Harewood and the ACM directors met with leaders from the South Pacific Division in Sydney and traveled to Avondale Memorial Church, where Harewood gave a presentation to church members on Sabbath.
For Army chaplain Gys Seegers, a highlight of the trip was meeting with Sergeant Jesse Stanfield and his chaplain from Williamtown Air Force Base.
“Jesse was recently baptized and has since completed his first year of theological studies at Avondale University. We got together to bless and pray for him in his plans and desire to become a minister and chaplain for defense,” Seegers said.
On the final part of their tour, chaplains met with leaders at the AUC office in Ringwood, Victoria, for training and to share how God has been working through this ministry.
“Both the meetings with defense service chaplains and RACS members at Canberra and the conference at the AUC office were a first in many ways. It not only established an important strategic connection between Australia and United States Defense chaplains but also acknowledged and celebrated our Adventist Defense chaplains as a new missional presence for our church here in Australia,” Seegers said.
Seegers said that “it was a significant visit [that] laid the foundation as a collaborative relationship with Adventist Chaplaincy Ministries, the AUC, and our Seventh-day Adventist defense chaplains.”
“It was a wonderful opportunity for our chaplains to meet, pray, and learn together as our ministry in the Australian Defence Force matures and grows,” AUC ACM director Michael Worker said. “We hope to create more opportunities for our chaplains to gather for mutual learning and sharing in the future.”
Ragoso Tagaloa, an Adventist pastor, shared his passion for this ministry. “As an Adventist chaplain serving in the Royal Australian Air Force in Townsville, it has given me so much scope in doing ministry to servicemen and women and certainly, a ministry without boundaries. [It is a] privilege to be serving in this new mission field as the new age Daniels, Shadrachs, Meshachs, Abednegos, and Josephs for His glory,” he said.