1. Called into being by the Mo. Syn. conv., Cleveland, Ohio, June, 1935. It organized February 13, 1936. Chief duties: to give ecclesiastical endorsement to qualified pastors for commissions as chaplains in military service, to counsel chaplains, and to minister to the spiritual welfare of synod's mems. in the armed forces and patients in Veterans Administration (VA) hospitals. The scope of the work increased when the numerical strength of the armed forces of the US was raised through the Selective Service Act in 1940; took on global aspects with WW II. Ex offices were established 1940 in Chicago and a branch service office in Winnipeg, Man., Can., 1943. The ex. offices were moved to Washington, D.C., 1948, to be near the Chiefs of Chaplains. When the U. S. became involved in WW II, a comprehensive program was developed under the slogan They shall not march alone.
2. The commission also inaugurated a comprehensive literature program for the serviceman's private devotional life. From 1958 the commission provided each issue of Portals of Prayer for the serviceman's daily devotion. Each month he receives Loyalty: Christ and Country (a printed order of service with sermon). During WW II, At Ease, a news letter written in a lighter vein, accompanied Loyalty: Christ and Country. From 1951 Double-Time, a pocket-size picture magazine containing news of Luths. in service, their dependents, and US civilians stationed overseas, was mailed quarterly.
5. At the close of WW II the commission maintained 47 Luth. Service Centers and 44 Parish Centers, some alone, some with the NLC In 1951 the Luth. Service Commission, a cooperative agency of the Mo. Syn. and the NLC, was est.
6. An important part of the commission's program was the ministry to patients in VA hospitals.
7. Pursuant to a syn. resolution of the 1956 St. Paul, Minnesota, conv., the commission assumed the added responsibility of ministering to military dependents overseas and to U. S. civilians living overseas at military bases.
8. Christ Church Military Congregation was est. under the commission's supervision 1955. Newly baptized and/or confirmed military personnel not near a civilian ch. or with very temporary residence status were enrolled in this Washington, D.C., transfer to a local cong., pending
9. The commission operated under a team of 3 dirs. an ex. dir., a dir. of special services (since 1951), and a dir. of publications. At peak activity 50 full-time and 43 part-time persons were employed.
10. At the close of WW II the names of ca. 135,000 US members of the Mo. Syn., the SELC, and the ELS were on file in the Chicago office, and of 4,000 Canadian members in the Winnipeg office. Many more were on file during the war. 4,084 Mo. Syn. members were killed in action or died in service since the beginning of WW II.
11. The key figure is the home pastor, who supplies the addresses of members. PLD; LB
12. First called Army and Navy Commission; name changed 1947 to Armed Services Commission; 1965 to Armed Forces Commission. The Armed Forces Commission was replaced 1981 by the Standing Committee for Ministry to the Armed Forces.
Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission
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