LANSING, MI -- It was a calling for Lt. Col Theodore Whitely when he became a chaplain in the military 21 years ago.
Chaplains are available to take care of the spiritual needs of their “flock” and Lt. Col Whitely will be doing just that in his new position. In September of 2010, he became the Sr. Chaplain for the State of Michigan’s Air National Guard.
In this capacity, he will provide ministry to Michigan Air National Guard personnel and their families.
Lt. Col. Whitely said, “There are three main issues I will be focusing on, ministry of presence, counseling and spiritual needs.”
He also performs weddings, funerals, memorials, participates in Wing functionings with prayers and benedictions. The Chaplain Office serves all, and the Squadron visits of ministry of presence enhances the morale of the Air Force military and civilians as well. In the Chaplain Section they offer worship experiences both catholic and protestant services, and they are open to serve other faith groups to be diversified in their ministries.
Lt. Col. Whitely began his military career by attending basic military training at the Navy Boot Camp Training Center in 1968 at the San Diego Navy Basic Training in San Diego, California. He served in the Navy 1 year 8 months and 14 days as a Yeoman and he was honorably discharged in 1969.
While serving as a Yeoman he worked for the Assistant Squadron Duty Officer typing up flight schedules and dispersing pay roll checks to enlisted and officers, in addition to that he was in charge of barrack linen distribution.
In the early 70’s while attending college he served as a Chaplain’s Assistant in both the Army Reserves and the Army National Guard. He was discharged in the late 70’s with a rank of E-4. After completion of the required courses for Chaplain, he was commissioned as a 1st Lieutenant on April 24, 1989. His first duty station was Wurtsmith Air Force Base in Oscoda, Michigan from 1989-1993. In the year 1993-1995 he transferred to Scott Air Force Base in Oscoda in Belleville, Illinois. In 1995 he transferred to Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Harrison township, Michigan.
In his previous capacity as Wing Chaplain of the 127th Wing, he supervised Staff Chaplains and Chaplains assistants.
While Chaplains go through the same rigorous training, education and requirements as others, they are forbidden to take violent action against the enemy unless it is in self-defense.
Lt. Col. Whitely is also the pastor of two churches, Calvary United Methodist Church in Detroit, MI and Henderson Memorial United Methodist Church also in Detroit. His new office will be at the Joint Forces Building in Lansing, MI.
“After 21 years of military service of being a Chaplain in the Air Force, hard work pays off. From different Air Force settings, particularly being a Chaplain for 15 years at Selfridge Air National Guard Base was truly challenging and a blessing. I thank everybody there for my service. An opportunity opened up for me to honorably serve as Senior Chaplain of the Air National Guard. Thanks to Major General Thomas G. Cutler, Major General Robert H. Johnston, Colonel Walter R. Wingard and others who made this happen. Most importantly I thank God," said Lt. Col. Whitely.
2nd Lt. Anthony J. Lesterson of 127th Public Affairs at Selfridge Air National Guard Base provided information for this story.
This article was printed in the October 10, 2010 - October 23, 2010 edition.