One of the joys of serving Unitarian Universalism as a member of the Central East Regional Staff has been the commitment of the leadership of the Unitarian Universalist Association and the members of our congregations to my also serving as a Chaplain in the U.S. Army Reserves. Combining these two ministries has made me better in both of my roles, and I have been grateful for the support I have received from our Regional Lead, Rev. Megan Foley, from my colleagues on the Central East Regional Staff, from the members of the Association’s Leadership Council, and from Unitarian Universalist ministers and leaders in the congregations of the Central East Region.
Some of you may have noticed a position vacancy announcement for a 1-year Interim position on the staff of the Central East Region. The reason for this opening position is that I have been designated for deployment to the Middle East as a part of Operation Spartan Shield, to serve as a Chaplain in Medical Command. It is my intention to go on unpaid leave from the Unitarian Universalist Association beginning sometime in July (depending on training requirements) and to be away from the UUA for approximately one year. Through the summer I will be focused on completing some necessary training requirements, as well as being available for my soldiers and their families. I will be traveling to the Middle East in the fall and will be there for approximately 9 months. I expect to return to serving as a member of the UUA Staff during the summer of 2019.
Though I did not volunteer for this assignment, I will admit to being willing to go. Though I have deployed several times as a soldier, I have never deployed as a Chaplain, and I am grateful for the opportunity to do that before the end of my military career. Though I cannot share much about the mission, I will say that it is in-tune with my personal faith and with my Unitarian Universalist Values. I will be with a team of Medical Command soldiers who were specifically selected for this mission, many of whom already know me as “their” Chaplain.
I want to thank the leadership of the Unitarian Universalist Association, who have been very supportive through this time and who have expressed a commitment to my having a job when I return home… a blessing that not all of my soldiers or fellow chaplains have. I also want to thank all of the friends and colleagues who have offered to be supportive to my family during the time that I am away. It is good to be a member of this faith community, and I know that I am not taking on this mission alone.
And, I want to thank all of those who are considering applying for the Interim position on the Central East Regional Staff. Knowing that the congregations I serve will be well cared for by the whole Central East Regional Team will allow me to focus on making sure I am part of our saving lives overseas, as well as making sure I come home.
And, until I go on leave in July, I am still serving as a member of the Central East Regional Staff, and the work I have already committed to doing with congregations will be accomplished before I leave. Thank you, and I look forward to seeing you all before I go, and again when I return.
Chaplain (CPT) David Pyle
8th Medical Brigade, 3rd Medical Command (Deployment Support)
Fort Wadsworth, Staten Island, NY