SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany -- Pastor Philip Redmond, Trinity Baptist pastor in Metterich, Germany, plays background music during Spangdahlem's 2010 National Prayer Luncheon Jan. 29 at Club Eifel. The national prayer luncheon is an annual interface luncheon that recognizes moral and religious values. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Nick Wilson)
SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany -- Staff Sgt. Aaron Kazer, 726th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, reads a passage from the book of Psalms during Spangdahlem's 2010 National Prayer Luncheon Jan. 29 at Club Eifel. The national prayer luncheon is an annual interface luncheon that recognizes moral and religious values. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Airman 1st Class Nick Wilson)
SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany -- Chaplain (Brig. Gen.) David Cyr, Air Force deputy chief of chaplains, gives a coin to Senior Airman Patrick Lott, 52nd Communications Squadron, during Spangsahlem's 2010 National Prayer Luncheon Jan. 29 at Club Eifel. Airman Lott was coined as a welcome back from his deployment in Ali Al Saleem Air Base, Kuwait. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Airman 1st Class Nick Wilson)
SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany -- Chaplain (Brig. Gen.) David Cyr, Air Force deputy chief of chaplains, gives a speech during Spangdahlem's 2010 National Prayer Luncheon Jan. 29 at Club Eifel. The national prayer luncheon is important to the military because it allows servicemembers to gather to concentrate on the importance of spiritual health, one of the four pillars of wellness. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Nick Wilson)
by Airman 1st Class Nick Wilson
52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
2/5/2010 - SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany -- As members of the armed forces, exercising Airmen spend a great deal of time in the gym pumping iron and doing exercises to become physically fit. Though being physically fit is a critical part of mission readiness, being spiritually fit is also equally important. Spangdahlem had its annual National Prayer Luncheon to emphasize the importance of spiritual fitness at Club Eifel Jan. 29.
"In thinking about how our military folks right here might increase their ability to become (mission ready), I probably would say their spiritual self is critically important," said Chaplain (Brig. Gen.) David Cyr, Air Force deputy chief of chaplains and guest speaker at Spangdahlem's 2010 National Prayer Luncheon."We spend a whole lot of time going to the gym, and appropriately so, to pump iron and to become physically fit... and that's something you can see. That's critically important, but that's not the only (component).
We have those types of intangible things that also need to be taken care of, and that's the spiritual side."
The national prayer luncheon is an annual interface luncheon that recognizes moral and religious values.
Beginning as a presidential prayer breakfast during President Dwight D. Eisenhower's administration in 1953, Eisenhower, his cabinet members, and House and Senate members attended the first breakfast.
In President Eisenhower's words, the purpose of the National Prayer luncheon was to, "bring together the leaders of this nation in recognition of the moral and spiritual values upon which this nation was founded."
Since then, what servicemembers now call the National Prayer Luncheon has extended to military, small communities and civic organizations.
The national prayer luncheon is important to the military by allowing servicemembers to gather to concentrate on the importance of spiritual health, one of the four pillars of wellness, during challenging times. The luncheon also reminds servicemembers to come together and pray for their nation and leaders.
"(The national prayer luncheon helps remind) us of that spiritual side that we all have. I think that prayer makes a difference and (reminds) us that we need to take the time to be at prayer for our nation and leaders," said Chaplain (Capt.) Ronald Kiser, 52nd Fighter Wing chaplain. "Not only for our leaders on the national level, but also our leaders here on the base level. Because they all have a lot of responsibilities and they all make a lot of decisions that directly affect us. They need wisdom because they are making those choices and this is a great reminder for us to be taking that seriously."
In addition to the chapel staff and first sergeants, there were about 15 Sabers who volunteered their time and efforts to make the national prayer luncheon a success. A full pasta buffet was provided at the luncheon, Chaplain Cyr was the guest speaker, and there were lines from the Qur' an and Bible given by the 52nd FW chapel's lay leaders.
There were also appearances by the Singing Sabers, a Spangdahlem choir, who sang the German and U.S. national anthems, and Vickey Costin, who performed the song "I get on my knees." Piano music was played by Pastor Phillip Redmund, Trinity Baptist pastor in Metterich, Germany, and Staff Sgt. Doug Witham, a chaplain assistant, was the emcee.
The Air Force Chaplain Corps provides funding for this annual event.
"The Air Force Chaplain Corps makes a major commitment to the importance of prayer and spirituality throughout the world each year, as evidenced by the unbelievable travel schedule maintained by the chief and deputy chief of chaplains to conduct these events," said Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Dondi Costin, 52nd FW chaplain. "In addition to this commitment of resources, the generous giving of Spangdahlem chapel members helps defray a good portion of the cost of meals as an outreach to the community."
The national prayer luncheon is open to active duty, civilians and family members. According to Chaplain Cyr, the luncheon could provide interest to those who aren't actively religious at all.
"Amendment rights are such that we will protect people's right to worship or not to worship and so we're all included in that as a military, we are very much aware of the respect issues. So it is in an event like this that everybody is welcome to come and to be a part of this," explained Chaplain Cyr. "People who may not be very much into prayer certainly would be interested in the tradition of our country and could gain meaning for that in their own lives, and so people of every belief and background are welcome."
During his speech, Chaplain Cyr discussed the importance of prayer during deployments and times of war.
"Getting together with those who like faith in a community of faith where you build one another up, and make each other strong on the inside as well as the outside is critical to being strong," Chaplain Cyr said. "We are a nation at war, we have multiple deployments, and some of our colleagues have been deployed not once but as many as four or five times. And you can do that once and say, 'That was alright. That was fun,' and you stay strong. But because of the stress (and) the nature of what we do, it's very fatiguing. It takes its toll on us spiritually and emotionally... so you need to take care of your inside self as well."
The luncheon concluded with a benediction from Chaplain (Capt.) Gary Willeford, 52nd FW chaplain, who led the song, "God Bless America," and Col. Kevin Anderson, 52nd FW vice commander, presented Chaplain Cyr with a gift of appreciation for visiting Spangdahlem as the guest speaker.
"Any time our community gathers to focus on God's blessing on our nation, its people, our way of life and our responsibilities as a result of how God has blessed us, it's a success by definition," said Chaplain Costin. "With the help of the host of volunteers, the generosity of Spangdahlem Chapel's worshipping communities, and the inspirational message by our deputy chief of chaplains, we can say of this year's event - like last year's - mission accomplished."