Sometimes changing the world begins on the homefront.
For Regent University School of Divinity (DIV) students Brian Payne ’17 and Camea Baksh ’17, it will begin on the frontlines as they continue to learn what it means to serve in the United States Navy as Chaplain Candidate Program Officers (CCPOs).
“This is a day of joining the community of Navy Chaplains. Today holds a huge significance for you and your families,” said Dr. Mark Jumper, assistant DIV professor and retired U.S. Navy Chaplain. Jumper addressed Baksh and Payne with their families at the commissioning ceremony on Regent’s campus, hosted by the Office of Military & Veterans Affairs on Friday, May 29.
“To become a chaplain is to become a blessed ‘insider.’ You will have a privilege of ministry that no other will have,” said Jumper.
Jumper charged Payne and Baksh with the challenge to uphold the long and honorable heritage that is entrusted to chaplain officers. And while this heritage of the work of the chaplains who’ve gone before them is imperative to Payne, he began the program simply for the sake of being a “good friend” to service men and women under spiritual or mental duress.
Payne said it was a mentor who first guided him to the idea of becoming a military chaplain. His ability to be a “good friend” and the traits of his personality matched the job description. And from there, Payne’s interest peaked.
“I’ve had friends struggle with post-traumatic stress and combat stress,” said Payne. “And I feel very strongly about American’s right to practice faith freely. I know that as a chaplain I’ll get to help other people express their religion in their own setting. In stressful times, religion brings comfort and peace. That’s what I love about the idea of the job.”
Baksh also felt a strong pulling to chaplain ministry during her first year as a seminary student. To her, the idea of ministering behind a pulpit was less attractive than the role of leading others in the field. She’s putting this to use right away as an intern in Bon Secours Hospital’s Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) program. Baksh serves as the chaplain to patients, their family members and the hospital’s staff.
“I’m excited about the work of the ministry; the healing of souls through compassion, and the divine movement of God’s love,” said Baksh. “And I’m also excited about my acceptance back into the U.S. Navy. I’ve always been a proud veteran, and I’m truly excited to serve my country again.”