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Summer Spirituality

Four Chaplains' Day

By Brad Seligmann

February 3 is Four Chaplains’ Day, which commemorates four U.S. Army chaplains who gave their lives saving others when their ship, the SS Dorchester, was sunk on February 3, 1943. The chaplains helped soldiers board lifeboats and gave up their own life jackets when supply ran out. They remained on the deck, joined arms, and sang hymns as they went down with the ship. They included Catholic priest Fr. John P. Washington, Reform Rabbi Alexander D. Goode, Methodist Rev. George L. Fox, and Reformed Church minister Rev. Clark V. Poling. After their deaths, the chaplains were hailed as “interfaith in action.” President Truman said their sacrifices “teach Americans that as men can die heroically as brothers so should they live together in mutual faith and goodwill.” At a time when anti-Semitic and anti-Catholic sentiments were common, their interfaith solidarity, giving their lives in support of others, was unheard of.

We have come a long way since the four chaplains’ interfaith in action, but the challenge of “living together in mutual faith” still faces us. Over the next month there are a number of opportunities to learn about the religious beliefs and practices of others. This Wednesday at 4:30 pm, you can learn about how many religions use prayer beads, and make your own set of beads. To register, visit http://tiny.cc/PrayerBeads/. Later on February 17th and 24th will be two interfaith visits to different places of worship in Dayton. Previous visits have included mosques, gurdwaras, and temples. To sign up, visit http://tiny.cc/InterfaithVisits/.

Brad Seligmann
Campus Minister for Interfaith Engagement

 

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