by George Merritt
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (BNc) — In the 68-year history of Fort Rucker, this is the first time churches of Christ have conducted worship on post. In fact, Christian families in the military say it is rare for our brotherhood to be so represented on military installations.
George Merritt, a long-time minister in Southeast Alabama, and CW4 James Baker have both been certified by the U. S. Army to lead the 1:30 p.m. worship each Sunday afternoon at Rucker’s historic Wings Chapel.
“We are targeting some 4,000 student soldiers here, especially those affiliated with the church of Christ,” says Merritt.
The first meeting on post was in mid-September, 2009, after six months of paperwork for approval.
In the first few months, the brethren coming onto post from surrounding congregations have had a taste of how they hope to assist more and more troops and their families.
One WOC candidate saw the service promoted on the marquee soon after arriving. For two months, the early afternoon service gave him a Lord’s Day respite from the confines of “lock down” and the rigors of class and field training. It afforded him the opportunity to observe the Lord’s Supper, study God’s word, sing, pray, and fellowship with other Christians.
A Christian father and his two children came after seeing a flier announcing the service in the PX immediately upon arriving at the “Home of Army Aviation”. A young soldier’s wife with two small children and expecting a third sees the worship service as a way to be near her husband during his time away from his family. Other soldiers, too, have already found this unique “congregation”, including a Lieutenant from Nashville, Tenn., in flight school.
Several nearby congregations have committed to supporting this work with their presence on designated Sundays. Among those who come each week is Betty Marcum who was a civilian employee at Fort Rucker 37 years and whose husband is retired military.
“It’s such a blessing that the chaplain’s office has embraced this work and made it possible,” Marcum says.
This ministry is under the direction of the Ariton, Ala., congregation, with which Merritt works. Congregations sending people to assist are Christian Home at Wicksburg, College Avenue in Enterprise, the Ozark, Geneva, and Clio congregations.