USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN, At Sea (NNS) -- The USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) Carrier Strike Group deployed Sept. 11, from San Diego with 7,000 Sailors, six ships, nine aircraft squadrons, nearly 75 aircraft, and more than 50 different religious affiliations.
With 40 different services held at sea each week, strike group Sailors have the opportunity to attend a service that best represents their preferred faith group. Although each worship service is designed around specific faith traditions and expressions, the chaplains on board provide pastoral care to all 7,000 Sailors in the Lincoln Strike Group, for all religious affiliations.
"We recognize our Constitutional obligation to accommodate the free exercise of religion for all members of the military and their families," said Cmdr. Thomas Webber, a Navy chaplain, and the strike group's command chaplain.
"As strike group commander in charge of thousands of Sailors, I've been going to all the different religious services to see how our folks are being tended to spiritually," said Rear Adm. Mark Guadagnini, the strike group's commander. "There are many different religious paths, beliefs and practices in this world and they exist, side-by-side, in peace, on board this floating city called the USS Abraham Lincoln."
The Navy chaplain corps lives by a code of ethics designed to ensure all faiths are represented and cared for spiritually. Lincoln's chaplains understand that as a chaplain for 7,000 Sailors they function in a pluralistic environment, including working with chaplains of other religions, to provide ministry to all military personnel and their families.
"We all have certain values in common," said Webber. "Wholesome family relationships, a desire to serve others, personal education and growth, mental clarity and peace of mind are things we have in common."
Navy chaplains can be ministers, pastors, priests, rabbis, imams or monks, but must be ordained and endorsed by their faith group to serve in the military's chaplain corps. Once this clergy member is approved by his or her faith, he or she then attends the Navy chaplain school for specialized training before reporting to their first duty station.
In addition to performing divine services, chaplains are the ethical, moral and religious advisers for the entire strike group, and in many respects counselors, teachers and mentors to all Sailors.
For more news from USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn72/.