The Church and Society
The College for Bishops Leadership Institute was established to provide educational resources for new bishops as well as trending informational resources for all bishops. The Church and Society focuses on the following specific topics:
New items are added on a monthly basis. To comment or suggest additional topics or resources, please use the feedback form located at the bottom of this page.
War & the Church
Drawing on ancient religious practices and the latest research on “moral injury,” the Episcopal Veterans Fellowship is building a community of healing and reconciliation for military veterans. In an effort to heal from moral injury and build a community for struggling veterans, members participate in reconciliation services, retreats and pilgrimages. They also teach other churches about their peer-led model, the first of its kind in the Episcopal Church. And with the support of the Episcopal Church Foundation, former U S Army chaplain Rev David Peters travels to parishes around the country to help them create their own veterans ministries.
Desmond Doss, the true-life hero of Mel Gibson’s new ﬁlm Hacksaw Ridge, has a few things in common with the director’s other favorite protagonists. He’s stoic to a fault, a Seventh-day Adventist who’s eager to volunteer for World War II but refuses to carry a weapon, infuriating his commanders. He’s a man of deep faith, a combat medic who won the Medal of Honor because of his daring rescue of 75 comrades while under ﬁre at the Battle of Okinawa. Hacksaw Ridge, like most of Gibson’s other ﬁlms, is a fairly simplistic work. But it’s undeniably eﬀective, a movie about the power of religious conviction that batters viewers with depictions of horriﬁc violence and chaos.
Moral injury results from a kind of irreversible schism between one’s perceived moral self and one’s actions. A person is morally injured when she comes to recognize herself – when she has witnessed herself failing to live by her own moral convictions, especially in profoundly demanding circumstances. For veterans, this circumstance is war, however directly or indirectly it is experienced. Veterans must continue to try to articulate the void of moral injury. Their neighbors must continue to try to see it, to hear it, and to come to terms with it. There must be people and institutions capable of bearing that responsibility in order to open pathways of hope.
Many Americans know little about chaplains, perhaps recalling only Father John Mulcahy from M.A.S.H. A new documentary, Chaplains: On the Front Lines of Faith, which aired last fall on PBS stations, asks who chaplains are and how they work in the military, healthcare, and prisons. It also introduces viewers to chaplains in some surprising places, including workplaces (Tyson Foods), police forces, Hollywood (through the Motion Picture Television Fund), NASCAR, and on Capitol Hill. What might these chaplains share much beyond the title of chaplain?
War has been such a constant in the American experience that most of us are all too familiar with the labels typically given to its emotional consequences: battle fatigue, shell shock, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Most Americans are less familiar with the affliction now being termed "moral injury." This Washington Post article details the meaning of this term and describes the role military chaplains are playing in helping veterans.