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U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. John M. Mabus, the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) chaplain, reads a sermon to Marines as part of religious services during Realistic Urban Training (RUT) at Camp Lejeune , N.C., Aug. 20, 2017. RUT allows the 26th MEU Marines to gain operational experience working as a unit in a simulated forward deployed environment as preparation for an upcoming deployment. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Clemente C. Garcia)

Photo by Sgt. Clemente C. Garcia

Religious ministry team visits Marines and Sailors during RUT

27 Aug 2017 | Sgt. Clemente C. Garcia 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit

The religious ministry team, which consisted of two U.S. Navy chaplains and two U.S. Navy religious program specialists, visited units at three separate remote sites to provide service members with religious services.

“We do this because according to the First Amendment of the United States Constitution everyone has the freedom to practice their faith,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Timothy G. Robinson Jr., a religious program specialist with the unit. “When our guys are out in the field, we bring the church to them. No matter what faith group they have, we try to accommodate their religious requirements.”

 The religious ministry team came out not only for services, but also to interact with the service members.

“The philosophy of the Navy Chaplain Corps is to be where it matters, when it matters, with what matters,” said Lt. Cmdr. John M. Mabus, the 26th MEU chaplain. “Engaging with Marines and Sailors in the midst of training helps build mutual trust with chaplains. Chaplains can then better encourage mission readiness as a spiritual fitness and religious resource to Marines.”

The team provided both Protestant and Catholic services, but was there for anyone interested to observe their particular religion.

“While I was sitting down, a friend of mine asked me if I was going to the service,” said Pfc. Aaron L. Crider Jr., a landing support specialist with Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 26th MEU. “As soon as I found out the chaplain was here, I was over here in a couple of seconds. I was very excited.”

The visit served also as a morale booster for service members who had been training for several days out in the field and were away from their familiar environments.

“I’m really glad whenever I get to go to church, even if it’s out in the field,” said Pfc. Brent M. Webb, an antitank missile gunner with BLT 2/6, 26th MEU. “Having this out here makes me happy, because it means that they care about my faith. This helps me through the training mentally, physically and spiritually.”

The Marines and Sailors are in the second phase of their pre-deployment training program in preparation for deployment at sea.

“As long as we’re out here, we can provide this service to them and hopefully give them a break in their day and a chance to reflect on a more personal level of why they’re out here together and what it means to them,” said Robinson.

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