Commission begins non-denominational ministry, new book

August 13th, 2012


Photo: A chaplain serving in Afghanistan presents a copy of Strength for Service to God and Country to a squad member.

NASHVILLE, Tenn.––The agency responsible for ministries to and with United Methodist Men is in the process of creating a new organization that will continue the publication of a World War II book of daily devotions and publish and distribute a new book of daily devotions for community-service employees and volunteers.

The General Commission on United Methodist Men has overseen the renewed publication and distribution of Strength for Service to God and Country, a 1941 book published by the former Methodist Publishing House for World War II troops. The book was discontinued in 1954 after sending over 1 million copies to troops in World War II and the Korean War.

Over a decade ago, the commission supported a California Boy Scout’s effort to republish the book as an Eagle project in honor of his grandfather. A total of 460,000 copies of the updated and expanded book have since been printed and distributed, primarily to U.S. service men and women stationed around the world.

While some of the books were given to fire fighters, police officers and other first responders, these public servants found the pocket-sized volumes were written for military personnel and less relevant to their needs.

In an effort to address the needs of these community workers and in order to reach people from all denominations, the commission is in process of forming a new non-denominational non-profit (501c3) Strength for Service organization.

A new book of daily devotions titled Strength for Service to God and Community is currently being developed and should be available for public servants in November.

The new organization will be responsible for raising funds for the endeavor and they may want to provide other spiritual resources as needs arise.

L.W. Smith, a layman from South Carolina who led fund-raising efforts for the republication of the World War II book, chairs the task force creating the new organization.

After reviewing portions of Strength for Service to God and Community, the Rev. Dr. Daniel G. Tackett, director of the International Police & Fire Chaplains Association, said the book will become an important tool for police and fire department chaplains. “Sometimes these highly trained people can draw a blank during a highly stress/trauma situations . . . The book is a tool to help the mind, soul, and spirit find peace.”

Scores of letters from members of the armed services telling of the importance of the original Strength for Service book may be found at the website.

While serving in Afghanistan, Captain Karen Bagzis, a member of the U.S. Army Nurses Corps told the commission about how much she valued the book––especially after losing a patient.

“On one of our toughest days here I returned to my room and said to God before opening the book, ‘This better be a good one... I need you’ and the devotional spoke about ‘Glorifying God in Suffering.’ It was one of the most moving readings and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for creating this book. It has helped me through a very tough time in my life and has become one of my most treasured possessions.”

Captain Bagzis has since returned to her home in Allentown, Pa.

“I hope fire fighters, police officers, EMT workers and other first responders will also find the new book as helpful as military personnel found the 50-year-old volume to be,” said Smith. “These first responders may not receive combat pay, but they risk their lives and they know firsthand about major injuries and death. This book will address their daily situations.”