Mail Call

The discovery of a 46-year-old book adds a new chapter to the history of Strength for Service books

NASHVILLE, Tenn.––In 1969, Army Chaplain Robert Covington noted how important mail is for members of the Armed Forces serving overseas.

“No one knows better than the soldier away from home how important mail call is,” said Covington.” He noted that occasionally mail brings bad news, but most of the time “it relieves our fear, strengthen our hope, and gives us comfort in love.”

The message from the chaplain was included in a 1969 edition of Strength for Service to God and Country, a book following the format of a 1942 book of the same name.

That book was found on eBay by Larry Coppock, executive director of the Strength for Service Corporation. “I didn’t know such a book existed,” said Coppock who was looking for additional copies of the 1942 edition. “We always thought there was no similar resource after the end of the Korean conflict in 1953.”

As the first book, the shirt-pocket-size book contains Scripture passages, meditations, and prayers by 120 military chaplains, pastors, editors and community leaders. Unlike the first book, the meditations in the smaller book are not designated for the days of the year.

In his introduction, Lawrence Fitzgerald, editor of the 1969 collection, says the idea for the book came from the Rev. Walter MacGowan who was very familiar with the first World War II book. “Shouldn’t we have another edition, bringing its ideas and format up to date?” he asked.

Members of the Methodist Commission on Chaplains and Armed Forces Personnel agreed the book “should be written by men who knew how to direct the soldier, sailor, airman to the God who is able to meet those needs.”

Abingdon Press, an imprint of the United Methodist Publishing House, agreed to serve as publisher for the new edition.

“Finding this book changes our understanding of the history of this ministry to military personnel,” said Coppock. “Up to this discovery we always assumed there was no similar resource between 1953 and 1998 when Evan Hunsberger decided to republish the 1942 edition.”

In 1969, Chaplain Covington noted the importance of mail to U.S. servicemen.

In 2015, we understand how important Strength for Service books have been to members of the Armed Services from 1942 to 2015.

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