The ministry of chaplains to the Australian Defence Force was front and centre on day four of General Synod as the Bishop of the Defence Force Grant Dibden addressed members and Sydney Navy chaplain Cath Wynn-Jones introduced a video highlighting the work of Army, Navy and Air Force chaplains.
The video (view here) featured a warm commendation of chaplaincy from the Chief of the Defence Force, General Angus Campbell, who described the work as nurturing of “character, moral strength and resilience”.
The General said Defence chaplains supported the moral decision-making of individual sailors, soldiers, aviators and commanders as they made life-and-death decisions.
“They walk side by side with our people in the toughest of times and harder situations you can imagine”
“We need chaplains to stand with them in their darkest moments, to provide pastoral care and to help them heal the moral injury and spiritual wounds that service can inflict.”
General Campbell spoke highly of chaplaincy work in the field of conflict. “In Afghanistan, our chaplains were critical to sustaining the resilience, the strength and the commitment of the force, particularly under some extraordinarily difficult circumstances.
“When some of my people were killed by troops they had been training – an 'insider attack' as it was known – it was the work of our chaplains that brought together the team in shock and grief and helped them understand a pathway forward. [It was] incredibly powerful and utterly vital to continuing our mission. I'm deeply appreciative of their service.”
The Synod then affirmed the importance of Anglican Defence Chaplaincy as a critical element of the Church’s ministry and encouraged each diocese to work with the Bishop to the Defence Force to recruit men and women for chaplaincy. It also commended churches to mark Defence Sunday – the Sunday before Remembrance Day.