"Chaplains and Pluralism in a Changing Society" was the theme at the 2015 Annual International Military Chief of Chaplains Conference (IMCCC) held this February in Amsterdam.
The IMCCC was initiated and has been coordinated by the EUCOM Chaplains Office since 1990. This venue was established to provide a forum to foster cooperation and communication among international Chaplains during combined NATO Operations. The forum expanded over the years when in 2002 it was designated as the International Military Chief of Chaplains Conference. Each year the EUCOM Chaplains Office along with the Minister of Defense from a co-host nation conduct this international conference.
For a week in Amsterdam, I had the opportunity to engage, dialogue and fellowship with the leaders of respective Chaplains Corps from 28 Nations that included many NATO allies and partners from South Africa, South Korea, New Zealand, and Ukraine. Highlighted at this week’s engagements included the participation from GEN Breedlove via VTC, Netherlands Chief of Staff, General T. Middendorp, Netherlands Vice Admiral M. Borsdoom and EUCOM Chief of Staff, RADM J. Christenson as the closing banquet guest speaker.
We addressed the significant changes facing our world and the impact upon our militaries along with our role as spiritual care givers. These challenges are complicated by what Chris Sieple, founder of Institute for Global Engagement, once called a Global Complexity and he further noted that,“There is a common root to this complexity: an inability to live without our deepest differences.”
We explored how as Chaplains we serve our militaries as well as model to our societies by working across and respecting those differences, seeking common ground to serve our people. We spoke to the prophetic task we have to speak to human dignity, hope and justice within our militaries by providing pastoral care and spiritual support. This was evident throughout the week as Chaplains from numerous faith traditions networked on common grounds.
Next year, we are excited to co-host the 27th IMCCC in Ljubljana, Slovenia with our Slovenia Chaplain partners.