A SALUTE TO OUR VETERANS- MINISTRY
1. BASIS FOR THE RECOGNITION
WHO RECEIVES THIS SALUTE?
NOTE: WHILE THIS FORM OF MINISTRY IS NOT BEING MANDATED OF THE LMSG-CHAPTER, IT HAS BEEN USED IN OUR FELLOWSHIP, AND IS HIGHLY RECOMMENDED BY THE LMSG-NATIONAL.
This “Salute” is given to any congregant in our two Synods who is former military, who has received a honorable discharge from service. It is an honor bestowed by the congregation, sponsored by the local LMSG. The military person is recognized for his/her military service to God and country.
A SPIRITUAL PRINCIPLE TO CONSIDER
As a general principle, the Church has a divine mandate to serve man’s spiritual needs with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and so it should not be side-tracked by starting programs and having annual events that have no or little legitimate tie-in with the Gospel and it’s ministry. So it is good for the Liaison and the LMSG-Local to understand and be able to explain the principles involved.
WHY WOULD THIS RECOGNITION BE GIVEN?
Why would a congregation in our fellowship take the time and energy to salute one of their congregants for his/her military service? Consider the following as we relate the previously mentioned spiritual principle to the “A Salute to Our Veterans” presentation.
The theme of this proposed form of ministry to our Veterans is the following:
“A SALUTE TO OUR VETERANS”
Answered the Call To Serve…Protected Our Religious Freedom
Let’s explain further. An excerpt from an Honor Ceremony as part of the “Salute” (as presented by Christ Ev. Lutheran, ELS, Port St. Lucie, FL), provides the connection between the service of the Veteran and the Gospel ministry.
Elder: Members and friends of Christ congregation, I introduce to you our Veteran honoree for today. You know him as Keith Kreuger. But for a moment in time, for the purposes of this Ceremony of Honor, we address you, Keith, as PFC Keith Gordon Kreuger. Welcome PFC Kreuger to this ceremony held in your honor as we give special recognition to your military service to God and country.
Veterans like yourself, PFC , have nobly served our nation in protecting it’s borders from those outside who would do us harm and who would take away our liberties. In protecting the nation, Veterans like you also protect our Constitution, the document that guides our nation in governing itself. One of the ways you have protected this nation, is in protecting our 1st Amendment rights, our rights to “religious freedom”. Without those rights we would have no guarantees, no guarantee that we would be allowed to believe as we do, no guarantee that we would be allowed to express our faith in the public marketplace, and no guarantee that we would be allowed to gather publicly for worship of our one true God. Veterans like you, PFC Kreuger are part of the reason we can enjoy the right to worship Jesus…”
2. GETTING ORGANIZED
This project can be handled by one main person with minimal support help, but many might find it advantageous to share duties on this with other congregants, especially trying to involve those who have had military service.
The costs are relatively minimal in light of the great benefits to the honoree and the congregation. Depending on how many of the suggested elements you include and how many you add on your own, the cost would be from$25.00 to 200.00 per Salute. If your LMSG-Local does not have a treasury as yet, then try to discover a military or non-military person who shares with you a passion for recognizing these Vets and learn if he/she is willing to donate the cost for the first “Salute”, understanding that congregational approval is still needed before this initial planning can become concrete.
Creating a List of Honorees
Using your church’s updated Members/Friends Contact List, create a list of Vets that includes their date of enlistment. List them- starting with the earliest date of enlistment. Determine how many due to age/ill health, might have to be “honored” sooner rather than later despite their enlistment date.
3. PRESENT THE PROPOSAL
Work Up Your Proposal
A sample template is provided as a guide to setting up your proposal. You can insert your revisions that fit your local situation. To view the sample click below.
Who Gets The Proposal?
Depending on your church structure and By-Laws, the proposal would be addressed (Bd. of Elders, Stewardship, Church Council, etc.) according to the group that oversees all church auxiliary societies/groups.
How to Make it More Personal?
Ask to be able to present it live before the next meeting of that Board. Prepare an appropriate number of copies of the proposal on LMSG Letterhead.
4. SET UP A CALENDAR/TRACKING FORM
What Is On This Form?
This form contains information that the Liaison will use to make a list of the veterans, and information for determining the order in which the Veterans will be honored. This can also contain information about tying in the Salute schedule with the three-times-a-year schedule for distributing the handouts emphasizing the 3 Support Areas of the LMSG (Active Duty, Veteran, Military Family Support).
Guidelines To Determine The Order Of The Honorees
★ Create an order in which the first Vet is the one with the earliest / oldest enlistment date.
★ Retain the above mentioned order, but there is an exception. If a Veteran is experiencing old age/decline in health that brings into question “how long he might have”, move him up the list.
★ Posting the complete List of all the Vets and dates you will be following for the next couple of years, might heighten possible grumbling and disappointments when you have to deviate from the normal ranking of enlistment dates. Better to create your list, let them know what the criteria and exception might be, and then publicize one name at a time when you know for sure he is the one.
5. PREPARE FOR A COMBINED SUPPORT MONTH & HONOR CEREMONY
POSSIBLE THINGS TO WORK ON-Depending on What You Put Into Your Program
★ Seek a volunteer to use a quality camera for taking photos or video of the Ceremony.
★ Give the Veteran a copy of the Military History Information Form and the Announcement/Invitation Mailing List. Return to the Veteran after he has filled in the info, conduct an interview by going over the information on the sheets, add depth to the info on the sheets. Interviewer uses the printed and verbal info to create a bio of the Veteran and a slideshow/video of the history. See History Form and Mailing List buttons below. Create a short (2-5 slide) slideshow announcing it one Sunday in advance and inviting the worshipper to the coming Honor Ceremony. The same slideshow can be e-mailed to members and friends of your congregation one week in advance of the Ceremony. Once the Honor Ceremony is over, take those and other pictures and produce a longer slideshow that covers the key points of the Vet’s military service, any special service recognition etc. Run the longer slideshow the Sunday after the Honor Ceremony, on the narthex TV monitor.
★ Get prices from a bakery for a cake with special decorations on it, or seek a volunteer who is especially gifted at cake decorating. Cake can be used in a post-Ceremony coffee hour. If the congregation doesn’t have a post-worship hour coffee hour offer to have someone set up for coffee, the Honor Cake, for serving the cake, and for cleanup.
★ Dessert plates and matching beverage napkins can be ordered from websites, such as www.partycity.com or windycitynovelties.com (search under patriotic plates; patriotic napkins).
★ In case the Veteran has no service photos of earlier days, and no uniform to wear for photos that mix the past with his/her present image, and you want to have photos for the slide shows or for “stills”, you could purchase a patriotic shirt that he could pose in that will give you at least a couple of different poses that could go into a short slide story. The shirt would create a visual tie-in with this older person you all know- the shirt speaks of patriotism, and the context of the slides and any printed history you distribute give the person-shirt-military history tie-in. This has been tried and it worked so well the Veteran wanted to wear the shirt to church on the day of the Honor Ceremony. (A possibility: the website of sheplers.com offers various styles of patriotic long and short sleeved shirts.)
★ Go to the LMSG-National website to get the handouts that can be distributed after worship on the Sunday before the Honor Ceremony: Find the handouts by clicking on the button below-Support Service Months. Print the one you need for either February, July, or September, in color, and in sufficient number for every adult and child to get a copy. Pick service-related persons to distribute the handout.
★ Commemorative Dog Tags can be ordered from various websites, such as Cafe Press (Thank You/Flag, #1066898304; Armed Forces- Bible/Tags/ Flag, #1178636502; Am.Flag, #1067920132; Flag/Lady Liberty, #1310129794; Am.Flag, #1292940734; One Nation Under God, #1377888977; and, Praying Hands, #1083124795. There are a hundred to choose from. If you want a drawstring gift pouch for each dog tag, during Check Out, at the bottom, check box for Gift Order and add it as an option at an additional charge.
★ Special Handmade Project: This will need to be assigned and worked on many months in advance depending on which project you choose. If you don’t have quilters, then maybe someone who works with wood could create a commemorative design in wood that could be personalized for each Veteran (share your idea with the national Liaison Coordinator). This “hand-made by a congregant” (Military or Patriot member) adds lasting value and meaning when the gift is presented.
★ One handheld mic, if available. It is important for all worshippers to hear everything said by the Presenter.
★ The Veteran that is to be hosted, in advance, will be asked to fill in the Military History Information Form. Then the Liaison or a representative interviews the Veteran, using the MHIF and info gleaned in this interview, to create a script and slides/movie you can use to tell his story.
★ Go on the LMSG National website and print in color the appropriate Handout of the 3 that are available for that National Calendar date. Don’t worry about making too many- better to have a few left over. Don’t include just the adults with a copy; each child needs the chance to read the Veteran’s history, etc.
★ Select military volunteers to distribute the Handout the Sunday before the Salute is held.
Suggestion:Active Military Support Handout- use any active duty personnel that are in your congregation, if available. Veteran Support Handout- likewise, use Veterans to distribute. Military Family Support Handout- use a Military spouse with child to hand it out.
Reminder- be sure each person distributing the handout has on a personalized name tag (see Template for Badges), and type up a brief announcement that tells the congregation what you are doing that day and tells them the significance of the ones handing out the material (whether actual Active Duty, Veterans, or Military families). Ask your Pastor if he would read it during the Sunday announcements.
★ Available for your “Salutes” is a personalized certificate from LMSG for each of your Veterans that you honor. This handsome certificate with its message from National, can be read to the Veteran when before the congregation. Each certificate will come in a certificate display holder. All requests will need to be made to the National Liaison Coordinator well in advance of the date for the Honor Ceremony.
NOTE: Submit the request by e-mail; include the highest rank earned and the complete name including the middle name, double-check the spelling; give the date of the Honor Ceremony; and provide the name, city, and state of your congregation.
★ Prepare a typed agenda of how you want the Honor Ceremony to proceed. Provide a copy for yourself, any assistant, the organist, and the pastor (though not necessarily involved in the ceremony, he’d appreciate being able to follow along as you conduct the ceremony). A sample is provided for you as a guide to what can be done, subject to your changes and adaptations.
★ Consider purchasing a picture frame for 1-2 pictures from the Honor Ceremony (especially the special presentations made to the honoree) that can be hung in an appropriate spot in your church building. The pictures stay up until replaced by the pictures from the next Salute.
6. REPORTING PURPOSES
★ Keep a digital record of your Salute bio’s, slideshows/video, etc. for your congregation’s history.
★ Submit to LMSG National Liaison digital, e-mail copies of a few photos of your Veteran’s Ceremony. Identify people in the pics. Include a copy of the Veteran’s biography handout. Please list the date of the event. An attempt will be made to put it up on the National website. No materials will be returned to the sender, so only submit copies of the originals.
★ Some cities more than others encourage coverage of local events. Look into having the newspaper send someone to cover the event, or, submit a photo and article for publication.
★ Share with the National Liaison Coordinator any innovative and meaningful ideas that you have used for the Agenda for the Salute, such as an idea in lieu of an Honor Quilt, etc.
7. QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Why Have the Salute After the Service?
A mid-week evening banquet in the church fellowship hall would be appropriate. But if one of the goals of hosting a Salute is to do spiritual outreach and evangelism work, then having it after a worship hour will have brought in for worship many of the honoree’s friends, neighbors, and relatives, not all whom are churched and involved in a church’s ministry. Also, in the early years of your local group getting recognized by the congregation, this allows all worshippers to be involved, not just those who like to go to banquets.
Why Have the Congregation Recite the Pledge of Allegiance?
Is it really proper to be doing an activity of this type in a church service? Remember: It is not being done during, but outside the divine worship service. Reciting the Pledge during the Salute allows for two dynamics. 1. In much of society where adults no longer publicly express their appreciation of God and Country (no longer sing publicly the National Anthem), what a tasteful way to give adults a way to bring back the old practice of adults saying it publicly and proudly. 2. If adults are no longer saying the Pledge, they are also no longer saying it with their children. Doing it during a Salute, allows the children of the congregation and of your grade school where they most likely say it at least once a week as part of the school program, a chance to look up, see, and join with their dad and mom in proclaiming their loyalty to God and Country.
How Can I Involve the Congregation’ Active Duty, Veterans, and Military Families In a Meaningful Way?
If you are using the 3-times-a-year occasions for the 3 types of Handouts, and then the next Sunday hosting A Salute, involve one or more persons on each of the Sundays. For example on Active Duty Support Month, pick a couple of your Active Duty personnel to hand out the Brochure, and on the following Salute Sunday, have one Active Duty drape the Dog Tag on the Veteran. For the Veteran Support Month, have Veterans hand out the Brochure and have a Veteran assist with the Dog-tag the next Sunday. For the Military Family Support Month, a couple of the Military wives could be distributing the Military Family Brochure, and one Military wife or child could drape the Dog Tag on the honoree during the next Sunday’s Honor Ceremony.
Is There Any Option In Choosing A Presenter?
The LMSG Liaison of the congregation can certainly be the Presenter. That would be appropriate. Another option is to have one of the church officials who might have helped you get the LMSG-Local approved and recognized by the congregation, assist as the Presenter. This gives the congregation a clear message that the church supports this. That’s one option, and I’m sure there are more one could come up with.
Why Even Host A Salute In The First Place?
What does the Salute as an event held at church have to do with the mission and ministry of the church? You are encouraged to reread the section- A Salute To Our Veterans-Ministry, Parts 1-2.
Also, here are further considerations…
★Increases awareness of the cost to maintain this freedom to believe, express our faith, and assemble for worship.
★Encourages members to learn more about the Biblical basis for defense, just war, etc.
★Helps Vets and Patriots (non-Vets) to know and appreciate one’s past in order to be grateful to the Lord for one’s present.
★Creates a camaraderie and stronger fellowship among the member Vets as service histories are shared and memories are refreshed. Allows our church and school children to know what real heroes are like.
★Opens a channel of awareness that leads God’s people to want to learn about how to materially and spiritually aid and assist a congregational member-Veteran who might be struggling as a result of his/her service.
Is There A Reason Why A Salute Shows Up 3-Times on the National Events Calendar?
The LMSG’s National Major Events Calendar shows it as offered three times a year. This is done to emphasize that it is recommended to sponsor a Salute (or for that matter, any major locally sponsored event) no more than three times a year. The frequency for a Salute is up to you depending on how many Veterans you have, and if a number of them have serious enough health conditions that they might miss their chance to be saluted if it is only offered once a year. You can schedule up to three times a year this special event or another of your own choosing, without causing scheduling conflicts with other National events.
Why Not Do One Big Salute?
You most certainly could host one big Salute in which all veterans in your congregation are honored all on the same day. That would certainly free up your Committee to create and work on other types of events to replace the Salute. Experience with this type of event has shown that each Veteran has a unique history and story to tell…other Veterans and also the other congregants want to hear that unique story…and most Veterans would like to be appreciated as an individual in a way that they will never forget. Individual Salutes could take years to go through the list of all Veterans in some congregations, even at three times a year until you can cut back to twice or once a year, but the individual Salute is what creates that “special moment” of honor given by one’s own congregation.
Can I Change/Revise/Adapt the Agenda Provided Here?
The Agenda for the day of the Salute is not intended as a “set in concrete” program format. It is offered so that you have an idea of what has worked in the past and thus saving you the expense of trying to create from scratch a flow of events. You can use it as a sample of how it has been done, and can feel free to change/revise/adapt it as you please.
How Can I Get Direct Advice About Implementation?
You can direct your questions about any special projects/events to the National Liaison Coordinator. It doesn’t matter what new project or event idea you are working on, check with David Clark for any insight he has to offer. If your questions pertain specifically to the “A Salute To Our Veterans” ministry he has the experience of having created this event and implemented it in one of our congregations.