2014-02-14 / Chaplain's News

Army’s 23rd chief of chaplains to speak at National Prayer Breakfast Feb. 26

By Bonnie Heater
Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office

February 26 promises to be a spiritual day for those planning to attend the Fort Gordon National Prayer Breakfast. The event, sponsored by the Religious Support Office, starts at 7 a.m. at the Fort Gordon Catering and Conference Center on 19th Street.

Chaplain (Maj. Gen.) Donald L. Rutherford, U.S. Army’s 23rd chief of chaplains, is the guest speaker. He leads the chaplain corps which is composed of 1,500 active, Reserve and National Guard chaplains. The Kinderhook, N.Y. native was ordained a priest of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, N.Y. in 1981. Upon ordination, he served in the Army Reserve with the 364th General Hospital until 1990 when he entered active duty.

Rutherford has held numerous chaplain assignments to include serving as the 22nd deputy chief of chaplains, U.S. Army, at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.; command chaplain U.S. Army Europe and 7th Army, Heidelberg, Germany; and command chaplain Multi-National Corps Iraq, Camp Victory, Baghdad, Iraq; XVIII Airborne Corps chaplain, Fort Bragg, N.C..

In addition, he served as the installation staff chaplain, U.S. Army War College and Carlisle Barracks, Carlisle Pa.; community chaplain and the 235th Base Support Chaplain, Ausbach, Germany; Division Staff Chaplain, 3rd Infantry Division (Mechanized), Fort Stewart, Ga.; senior chaplain recruiter, Office of the Chief of Chaplains, Washington, D.C.; and Deputy Division Chaplain and Division Artillery Chaplain, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.

The annual installation National Prayer Breakfast brings together individuals of all faiths, economic status, and political ideologies.

According to Chaplain (Col.) James Watson, the installation chaplain, the program is designed to promote spiritual wellness, and offer encouragement and hope for the Fort Gordon community. The Fort Gordon National Prayer Breakfast is fashioned after the National Prayer Breakfast held annually in Washington, D.C.

The practice began back in 1942 at the height of World War II, as a small group of senators and congressmen met informally to pray together and provide spiritual support for one another. The two groups met quietly for 10 years.

Then in 1953, Senator Frank Carlson invited President Dwight D. Eisenhower to the first combined prayer breakfast for both houses of Congress. He did this after learning the president felt lonely and cutoff in the White House. The breakfast and fellowship soon began an annual event and has become known as the National Prayer Breakfast.

Today, military installations follow the commander in chief’s precedent and conduct a National Prayer Breakfast each February in a sincere effort to improve spiritual fitness and invoke Divine favor on the mission to maintain national security, according to Watson.

The Fort Gordon installation chaplain encourages everyone to come out and enjoy a hearty breakfast, music provided by the U.S. Army Signal Corps Band and the U.S. Navy Choir and a special message from Rutherford.

Tickets are available from all chaplains on post, members of the unit ministry teams or the Religious Support Office, 791-5653. Suggested donations will be accepted for the cost of the meal.

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