Office of the Suffragan Bishop for the Armed Forces

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Office of the Suffragan Bishop for the Armed Forces

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Dates of existence



The Office of the Suffragan Bishop for the Armed Forces grew out of the Army and Navy Commission established by General Convention in 1919 "to press upon the attention of Congress the need for Army and Navy Chaplains." For the next 25 years the Commission raised money to aid churches near military camps, provided portable altars and communion sets to chaplains, distributed A Prayer Book for Soldiers and Sailors, paid the pension premiums of chaplains when needed, and contributed to chaplains' discretionary funds to help them respond to emergencies among service men.

In September 1945, the Commission decided to dissolve the existing body and on January 1, 1946, the Army and Navy Commission became the Army and Navy Division of the National Council, reporting to the Presiding Bishop. Since WWII had ended there was no longer an immediate need for chaplains, allowing the focus of the work to shift from wartime ministrations to reintegrating the soldiers into a peacetime society.

In 1946, General Convention determined that a position of Suffragan Bishop for the Armed Forces was required. However, the call for a bishop was not made until 1964 with the election of Arnold M. Lewis, which was due in part to the Unites States becoming fully involved in the Vietnam War. In 1988, the office expanded its scope, and was renamed under the umbrella of Federal Ministries.

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