PASADENA, Md. – Members of seven UM congregations met Nov. 5 at Pasadena UMC to honor men and women serving in the Armed Forces. The 275 people in attendance gave nearly $1,000 to the Strength for Service fund.

Prior to Veteran’s Day, Pasadena UMC invited active-duty military men and women and veterans to a “Support Our Troops – Strength for Service Rally.”

The idea to honor and pray for active troops and veterans originated with the Rev. Sherrin Marshall, pastor of the host congregation. She had received information about the historic Strength for Service to God and Country books during a session of the Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference, and she wanted to present the World War II books to local troops and veterans.

“One of the most moving and inspirational moments came from Captain Rose Forrest who spent time in Iraq,” said Marshall.

Captain recalls tour in Iraq

“When my unit arrived in Ramadi Iraq in July 2005, we went to work fortifying the base and improving our area,” said Forrest. “One of our first projects was to build a chapel. It had dirt floors, a plywood ceiling, and sandbags stacked up along the wall to protect us from mortar fire. Despite these conditions, it was the finest chapel I had ever seen. Every Sunday at 1000 hours, and throughout the week if we felt the need, the building was packed with soldiers and marines who came together to pray.”

“When my unit was deployed, it was post Fallujah and pre surge,” said Captain Forrest. “It was the most dangerous time in the most dangerous city in the world. Our mission was to fight the bad guys, protect the innocent, train the Iraqi Army, and build a police force. Many days it got up to 140 degrees; sand constantly scratched our eyes, stuck in our throats, and jammed in our M16s.”

“Throughout that year, I continued to feel the Holy Spirit, through the prayers of the American people, and also through the kind and thoughtful letters and care packages that arrived every day,” she concluded.

Other participants

Chaplain (Colonel) William Sean Lee of the Maryland National Guard expressed appreciation to members of Pasadena UMC their participation in a program that helps families of National Guard troops.

The event included an honor guard by a local Scout troop, choral presentations by choirs, bands, singing and prayers by clergy leaders of the six congregations.

“This doesn’t feel like a Friday night to me – it feels like Sunday morning and I thank God,” said one of the participants. Ken Rabenstein, another attendee said he hopes the service will become an annual event.

The seven congregations participating in the rally were: Pasadena UMC, Asbury Town Neck UMC, Severna Park; Hall UMC, Glen Burnie; Asbury UMC, Arnold; Cape St. Claire UMC near Annapolis; Solley UMC, Glen Burnie: Mt. Zion UMC; and Magothy UMC, Pasadena.

Clergy participants included the Revs. Kay Albury, Patricia Allen, Roger Carlson, Lysbeth Cockrell, Sonia King, David Shank, Jr., and Marshall.

National Guard Chaplain (Colonel) William Sean Lee presents a recognition plaque to the Rev. Sherrin Marshall. The pastor of Pasadena UMC received the plaque for her congregation’s participation in “Partners in Care,” a program that helps families of deployed and returning National Guard troops.