About half of all service members serving in Iraq and Afghanistan are members of the National Guard or Reserves, which means they return to their home communities and churches after deployment – and often churches do not know how they can help.

“How they re-enter daily life after combat is a significant question for local churches,” said the Rev. Tom Carter, director of endorsement and pastoral care for the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry’s United Methodist Endorsing Agency.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has developed online help to support congregations needing assistance in ministries to returning combat veterans. Those resources, including a PowerPoint presentation with attached videos are available online.

“Many resources have been developed and provided for churches, but these are the best that I have seen,” Carter said. “They developed as workshop resources for congregations or individuals, provides background information of the issues of serving in combat and practical ways for individuals or congregations to reach out in love and support.”

Produced by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America , the resources can be used in workshops for pastors, caregivers, or as an adult Sunday school, Carter said. Headded that although much attention is given to physical injuries or post-traumatic stress disorder, there are many other issues that face service members returning from combat. And a local church can play an important role in making returning service members feel welcomed back into their communities.

“What has your congregation done to support those who have been willing to risk their life in support of your way of life?” Carter asked.

To learn more, visit www.gbhem.org/chaplains.


A local church can play an important role in making returning service members feel welcomed back into their communities.



A UMNS photo by Staff Sgt. Chris Farley

U.S. soldiers return home following deployment to Iraq. The needs of service members leaving for and returning from Iraq and Afghanistan is the focus of the United Methodist Endorsing Agency which recommends congregations needing assistance with ministries to returning soldiers, use resources developed by Evangelical Lutheran Church in America chaplains.