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May 20, 2004

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Chris,

Thank you for your blog and your attention to this issue. I am also a Free Methodist Elder and I must confess a somewhat new initiate to Free Methodism—began attending in 2006; ordained in 2009. I am a former Marine now active duty Navy Chaplain. I came from the Vineyard movement—where I had spent the majority of my 27 years as a believer.

I have recently begun wearing a collar. I spent 2 years in Canada as an exchange Chaplain and nearly all of my counterparts in the Canadian Forces wore clericals off duty as well as part of their uniform. This was striking to me because in Canadian culture it identified them as ministers in and out of uniform. When I would deploy with my sailors, I would almost always wear my uniform on liberty and shore leave so my guys could identify me—either for ministry or accountability [both ways].

I’m now back with US I choose to wear clericals on liberty when deployed for the same reasons. It’s a uniform. It helps my guys identify me out on town and shows them that I am there to care for them. It also encourages them to be accountable for their actions when the see me. It makes me conscious of my own conduct and appearance—reminding me that I should never seek to blend in. Being general population can lead to a sense of anonymity and hence temptation.

Thank you for your encouragement on this issue. I know that the collar has been stained by the bad conduct of a few. With that, I believe it’s our calling to reclaim this symbol of one dedicated to caring for Christ’s Bride and ministering to the lost.

Semper Fidelis and in His grace,

Chaplain Dave

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