NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — As the chapel celebrates its 50th Anniversary this October, 50 years can seem like a long time, but age is relative.
For example, there are ongoing debates of how old the universe is, its existence ranging from thousands to billions of years. Consider that the United States is only 237 years old compared to a more mature 763-year-old Stockholm — the city that was close to where my father was born. World War II ended 68 years ago, and even our own United States Air Force is 66 years old. Fifty years of ministry for the 99th Air Base Wing Chapel is significant and yet, it is just a moment in time.
A lot has happened in these past 50 years including wars and conflicts in Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq. Deployments have increased across the globe. Our Airmen faced and still face danger and some have even died for their country. The chapel has stood tall as a light on a hill, a beacon in the fog during this period to help people get through these ever changing times.
The 99th ABW Chapel team started taking care of people in 1963, and it still does so today. One reason for this 50 yearlong success is the connect-ability that happens when you are there. The dictionary defines connect as to join, link, unite or bind, to establish communication. Connect-ability is the ability to connect with other people in a variety of social settings.
By nature, people are social creatures. We were never designed to be alone. Humanity thrives on its ability to connect with each other. The chapel has always been a place where people can connect to their faith, family and friends.
This social network happens at this chapel, and other chapels around the world, even in deployed locations. Airmen enjoy this connection to people so much when they retire they still choose to worship at a military chapel. We have lots of veterans that still serve our young Airmen and their families as they meet throughout the week in the chapel.
We owe a debt of gratitude for those that have served in the past to make the chapel the hub that it is today. One of those Airmen is the late Chaplain (Maj. Gen.) Robert P. Taylor, former chief of Chaplains, and was the keynote speaker at the Oct. 27, 1963, chapel dedication.
Taylor was a World War II veteran. He survived the Bataan Death March and 42 months in several Japanese prison camps. His job while in the prison camps was to minister to more than 10,000 patients at the prison camp hospital in Cabantuan, Philippines. What Taylor was doing was connecting these patients to their faith and to each other. They could not go to a chapel, but the chapel could go to them in the form of Taylor’s ministry.
As the 99th ABW Chapel reaches its 50th year of existence, we have much to celebrate. This chapel has hosted many marriages, baptisms, first communions, confessions, and even funerals and memorials. What is the outcome of all this good connect-ability? – Resilient families.
Connecting to one’s faith is vital for many people. As we connect to our faith, we bring our family along with us. Our family members connect to their faith and to each other and then they make new chapel friends. So the social spiral continues to swirl outwards creating more and more resources for Airmen and our families.
This produces resilient Airmen and that is what the chapel team is all about: connecting Airmen and families to an array of resources in order to weather turbulent times like these. So if you are in the neighborhood Oct. 27come join us at 9:15 a.m. for a slice of cake as we celebrate 50 years of caring for the Nellis AFB community. Come, get connected.