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Chapel Services Changing, Refocusing Resources

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Fewer church and liturgical services doesn't mean less ministry is taking place. The number of religious services at the base chapel is decreasing, beginning in August with Catholic Mass going to one session on Sundays followed by reductions to Protestant services later in the summer. However, that doesn't translate into the overall work taking place through chapel staff coming to an end.

"More goes on here than church on Sunday," said Chaplain (Maj.) Matthew Boarts, 21st Space Wing chaplain, "This is a vibrant place." Many groups utilize the facility throughout the week for things like meetings and commander's calls as well.
Announcements about worship service reductions began in March and Boarts said there was a lot of stress over those announcements.

Funding resources are changing, not allowing for musicians and other similar parts of worship services to be paid for out of tithes and offerings collected during services. For example, the money for musicians required to support four services was cut in half, so the number of total services had to be reduced as well.

That is part of the story, but a desire to reshape base chapel involvement to something resembling a deployed situation is another major part.

"We are revamping to reshape and mold religious services to that in a deployed setting," said Chaplain (Maj.) Dan Forman, 21st Space Wing deputy chaplain. In that setting he said the relationship between garrison and chapel is symbiotic. A positive aspect to changes is now chapel staff can focus more on unit level engagement.

The refocusing of manpower means more attention will be placed on squad level warrior care and getting out to the units to better engage Airmen.  Concentrating on that level means paring down services previously offered, but that are available elsewhere off base.

"We don't want to compete. We are trying to meet needs of what is not being met elsewhere in town," Forman said.

"We want to focus on what's unique," added Boarts. As an example, Boarts pointed out that the Chapel staff is the only group who can go out and engage with Airmen in their workplaces. "We encourage people to get out for worship, but there are unique military things and worship on base is important. Yeah, we've got a fence around the base, but you can't put a fence around needs."

Cutbacks and refocusing requirements have the chaplains being creative in continuing to meet some needs. There are a number of volunteer opportunities, which unlike in many off-base churches, allow people like musicians to be involved in serving fellow Airmen right away.

Things like hospital counseling, funerals, weddings and such for non-active duty personnel will be steered toward community resources, Boarts said.

"We have a great support network of local churches," He explained. "And one of the Space Wing's priorities is to enhance community relations."

Forman said it can be tough, being the compassionate people they are, having to back off some services. But the chapel staff will still work to connect people with places in the community that match their need.

Times and days of the new services are:
Catholic Mass - 9 a.m. Sunday
Protestant Services - 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Sunday

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