Kadena Chapel hosts clergy day for local religious leaders
Kadena Air Base, Japan -- More than 50 local religious leaders from Okinawa visited Kadena for Japanese Clergy Day April 17.
Local Catholic and Protestant religious leaders from Okinawan churches came to Kadena Air Base with the Kadena Chaplain Corps for a day of religious commonality, nicknamed the "Spiritual Air Show."
"Together We Can Build Bridges" was the theme for the day; because of their shared faith, the clergy benefited from working together for the good of the community despite cultural differences.
Several Christian denominations and six Okinawa prefectures were represented by the visiting religious leaders.
"The purpose (was) to showcase to off-base clergy members what we do as a chapel staff here on Kadena," said Staff Sgt. Rachel Barnes, 18th Wing chaplain assistant. "We (were) also giving them the opportunity -- a lot say they have never had this offered to them before -- to see Kadena AB and what we as Airmen do here on the base to bridge local community relations."
The chaplains and their assistants created a full day of activities for their visitors.
The visiting clergy were given a brief history of Kadena at Chapel One, which emphasized religious and community involvement. The chaplain corps personnel were introduced and guests were able to ask questions of Chaplain (Col.) Steven McCain, 18th Wing head chaplain, and Col. Brian McDaniel, 18th Wing vice commander.
Several Japanese participants, including John Kina, pastor of the World Mission Christian School, spoke about their Christian faith, expressed appreciation for American community involvement, and said how glad they were to be able to meet each other in such a friendly setting.
Immediately after the briefing, the religious leaders observed a static display of Army equipment, including an unarmed Patriot missile launcher.
Following the Army equipment display, the group was ushered into the Quonset Hut in the Air Power Park, where a short deployment-like church service was held. Chaplain (Capt.) Kevin Humphrey, 18th Wing chaplain, gave a short sermon and the hymn "Amazing Grace" was sung in both Japanese and English.
All participants were given a base tour as they passed through Kadena on the way to the flightline. Their day concluded with tours of the 33rd Rescue Squadron's UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter and the 44th Fighter Squadron's F-15 Eagle fighter aircraft. While onboard the 909th Air Refueling Squadron's KC-135 Stratotanker refueling aircraft, they also were briefed about the 18th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron's mission in transporting patients across the Pacific.
"It was a wonderful opportunity to bring the Japanese clergy on base, not only to fellowship with them but to share one another's experiences," said Tech. Sgt. Brian Smilowitz, 18th Wing chaplain assistant. "I believe it was very beneficial to both sides, Americans and Japanese, to understand different approaches to ministry."
The Kadena Chaplain Corps invited pastors throughout the island, and considered the event a success in Kadena's goal of continuing positive community involvement.