Dr. Jim Spivey, director of the Marsh Center, said it was important for the new organization – founded in 2019 – to attend the 2020 NCMAF and present its programs to those who are committed to ministry in the military context.
“We went to listen. We wanted to network and learn their environment, their issues, and their concerns. We went knowing we had something to offer those whose mission is to educate, support, and advocate the ministry of chaplains,” Spivey said.
Spivey, himself a retired brigadier general and Army chaplain, helped found the Center, which works with seminaries to develop material to train both new and experienced chaplains as they engage in lifelong learning. The curriculum reaches beyond the scope of traditional seminary classwork.
That mission is unique, said Gene Wilkes, president of the B.H. Carroll Theological Institute, which sponsors the Center.
“It is important the Marsh Center engages endorsers, chaplain-supporting organizations, and seminaries to explore common interests specifically designed to develop chaplain competencies. Chaplains minister in unique settings and require unique skill sets. With chaplaincy training rapidly expanding, we recognize the need to build collaborative synergy among seminaries and institutions,” Wilkes said.
NCMAF’s members endorse chaplains for service in the Armed Forces on behalf of their respective religious organizations. They are the point of contact between the Department of Defense and more than 150 religious denominations and faith groups.
Dr. Jim Browning, associate director of the Marsh Center and a retired Air Force chaplain, found numerous opportunities to share the center’s vision, mission, and objectives.
NCMAF 2020 was “an exceptional event of meeting numerous chaplain endorsers, military personnel, and exhibiting seminaries and organizations’ representatives.”
“It provided us a venue to understand their mission, their challenges, and how the Marsh Center might partner with them. We made numerous contacts with some real potential of creating future partnerships in expanding the education, support, and advocacy of chaplains,” Browning said.
The Center is named for Dr. Gerald E. Marsh, a former home missionary of the Southern Baptist Convention and a professor for twenty-five years at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Since 2004, Marsh has served as a Distinguished Fellow of Carroll Institute.
Maj. Gen. (ret.) Marsh served 32 of his 39 years in the military as a chaplain. He retired in 1988 from his eleven-year post as assistant chief of chaplains with the U.S. Air Force.