Marking Veterans Day in our faith communities

by the Rev. Mark W. Olsen

Our 2016 Metro D.C. Synod Assembly overwhelmingly adopted a resolution entitled “Gratitude and Support for Military Service Members and Veterans.” Combined with similar resolutions from other synods, that resolution was forwarded for consideration of the 2016 ELCA Churchwide Assembly and overwhelmingly adopted there as well.

Chaplain Todd Iverson, US Navy Reserve, deployed for a year-long mission in Djibouti, Horn of Africa. Parish pastor at Immanuel Lutheran Church, Watertown, Wisc.
Chaplain Todd Iverson, U.S. Navy Reserve (center), during his year-long mission deployed in Djibouti in the Horn of Africa. He is a parish pastor at Immanuel Lutheran Church, Watertown, Wisc.

There were many ways in which we encouraged one another to show gratitude and support to military service members and veterans in these measures. One of them was a call to set aside the Sunday closest to Veterans Day to especially remember in prayer those in military uniform, the veterans who have served, the wounded and their families in their recovery and in their coping, and the families of those who have lost their lives in military service who now live with pain and loss.

With Veterans Day (November 11) and the closest Sunday (November 13) fast approaching, there are two resources you may find helpful in preparing your congregation to mark the occasion with prayer.

  • The first is a website: www.elcachaps.com. Affiliated with our ELCA Federal Chaplaincy Ministries, this website offers a central place to find tried and true resources help you in your ministry to military members, veterans and their families. Under the “Congregational Resources” tab you will find prayer resources, litanies and the like which you can use as is or tailor to your context.
  • The second is a letter from our presiding bishop, the Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, calling our church to just such a time of prayer on the Sunday closest to Veterans Day as was encouraged by the 2016 ELCA Churchwide Assembly. Presiding Bishop Eaton’s letter can be read in full online.

Finally, on this Veterans Day we would do well to remember and give thanks for all our ELCA pastors serving as Military Chaplains, whether on active duty, in the reserves or in the national guard. Theirs is a vital ministry of our church that needs our encouragement and support.

Yours in Christ,
Pastor Mark Olsen


Our guest blogger, the Rev. Mark W. Olsen, Associate Director, ELCA Fund for Leaders, is our synod’s “Centurion Contact.” In this role he fosters connections between Lutheran veteran/military personnel/families with congregations, synods and ELCA churchwide colleagues, agencies and institutions. Centurion Contacts encourage prayer, networking and foster support by highlighting and advancing creative ministries taking place within the synod. Contact him at pastormarkolsen@gmail.com.

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