Clergy Training Scheduled for Mount Vernon, Bloomington, Elgin and Springfield
FOREST PARK, IL (10/14/2011)(readMedia)-- A group of 18 clergy members from the Chicago area gathered at the Living Word Christian Center in Forest Park Oct. 5 to attend the first of several free training events sponsored by the Illinois National Guard. Similar training will occur at other churches across the state later in October.
The training is designed to raise awareness among community religious leaders about the challenges faced by servicemembers and their families, with a focus on deployment related issues such as anger management, suicide prevention, military marriages, and church and community support for the military.
Partners in Care is a program dedicated to providing servicemembers community resources through local congregations, said Capt. Vincent C. Lambert of Chicago, Illinois National Guard chaplain with the 2nd Battalion, 122nd Field Artillery Regiment in Chicago.
The goal of Partners in Care is to provide military personnel with local community support in their geographical area, said Lambert.
There are 68 congregations across Illinois that are part of the organization, which was started in fall 2009. However, Lambert said, most of these are in the northern region of Illinois and more support is needed in other areas of the state.
With only a handful of chaplains to minister to 13,000 Illinois National Guard members, the need is great, said Lambert.
"We know that anger is a significant issue for those who are in military service, particularly those who are returning from deployment," said Lambert.
Juliann Steinbeigel of Springfield, the director of psychological health for the Illinois National Guard, spoke about anger management issues. She discussed stress triggers and coping mechanisms to deal with the stressors and emotions that can impact a Soldier's life, such as survivor's guilt.
Steinbeigel said servicemembers are at a heightened stress level when returning from a deployment and may be bothered by things that did not upset them before.
A new initiative for Partners in Care, said Steinbeigel, is to link up with units who are scheduled to deploy as a way to be pro-active in providing support for military families.
Pastor Jerry H. Gleason of Bartlett, who ministers at Twin Oaks Baptist Church, was another guest speaker at the seminar. Gleason retired from Illinois Army National Guard at the rank of lieutenant colonel after serving for 31 years as a chaplain. He talked about ways to bridge the gap between the church and the military.
"For the most part, servicemembers face the same challenges as non-military families," said Gleason. "They are simply overwhelmed by life issues."
Gleason said clergy can develop a veteran's ministry by rallying the servicemembers within their congregation and developing services that emphasize the church's support of the military.
"The local church will always be there...when other people and agencies often move on or back off," said Gleason.
Maurice L. Lofton, of Chicago, a Vietnam War veteran and church elder at Liberty Temple Church, said the need to provide support for returning veterans is vital.
"When guys deploy, men come home, and women now, they need someone to bring them back into society...they don't know the society that they left...I mean everything's changed," said Lofton. "There are issues when they come back."
Lofton, who attends meetings on a regular basis to help him deal with his experiences as a Marine in Vietnam, even 43 years later, hopes to start offering a veterans support group at his church.
"What I'd like to see, even as far as the clergy is concerned, is to ease them back into society. We know it's not going to be easy," said Lofton. "You need this to help bridge that gap that's missing right now."
Capt. Oluwatoyin O. Hines of Chicago, a chaplain with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 108th Sustainment Brigade in Chicago who works full-time for the Wounded Warrior Ministry, said she was grateful for the support she received from her church when she returned from deployment.
"Partners in Care and the church environment allows the servicemember to reintegrate emotionally, spiritually and psychologically in their own time and in a nurturing environment," said Hines.
Lambert said he hopes to see more servicemembers and congregational communities join Partners in Care to increase its outreach to troops and their families in Illinois.
"Faith group leaders will receive pertinent information to minister, not only to military personnel, but to the community," said Lambert.
There are still seats available at all the remaining 2011 Illinois National National Guard Church Leaders Training seminars, held at various locations throughout Illinois during October.
All are encouraged to attend. For further information, please contact Chaplain Lambert at
October 18---Logan Street Baptist Church, 601 South 21st Street, Mount Vernon, IL 62864---9am-1pm
October 20---Illinois Army National Guard Armory, 1616 S. Main St., Bloomington, IL 61701---9am-1pm
October 25---Harvest Bible Chapel, 1000 N. Randall Rd. Elgin, IL 60123---9am-1pm
October 26---Illinois Military Academy, Camp Lincoln, 1301 N. Macarthur Blvd, Springfield, IL 62702---9am-1pm
Photo 1: U.S Army photo by Spc Starr A. Ivey, 139th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment - Eduardo (Edward) Negron, of Berwyn, Assistant to the Member Care Department at Living Word Christian Center, asks a question at the conference for Partners in Care on October 5, a training seminar geared toward faith leaders. The event, sponsored by the Illinois National Guard, aims to provide a support network between local churches and the military community.
Photo 2: U.S Army photo by Spc Starr A. Ivey, 139th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment - Mariann J. Blacconiere, Licensed Clinical Social Worker at Hines VA Hospital, gives a lecture about suicide prevention (Operation SAVE) at a Partners in Care training seminar, held at the Living Word Christian Center in Forest Park, October 5.
Photo 3: U.S Army photo by Spc Starr A. Ivey, 139th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment - Capt. Vincent C. Lambert, Illinois National Guard chaplain with the 2nd Battalion, 122nd Field Artillery Regiment in Chicago speaks during an Illinois National Guard Church Leaders Training event at Living Word Christian Center in Forest Park, Oct. 5. The seminar is the first of seven held throughout Illinois in October. The training educates faith leaders about the needs of servicemembers and helps bridge the gap between the church and military families.
For high resolution photos, please contact the Illinois National Guard Public Affairs Office at
Story by Spc. Starr A. Ivey, 139th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment