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From its establishment in 1941 through the rest of the decade, Civil Air Patrol units were  served by Army Air Corps chaplains as part of their pastoral mission. This changed in January 1950 when the CAP chaplain service was formally organized as an integral part of CAP. The Chief of USAF Chaplains appointed Chaplain, Lt Col, Robert P. Taylor, USAF, as the first National Chaplain of Civil Air Patrol. Assisting him were one Air Force enlisted member and one secretary. The primary task of the National Chaplain's office was to be the single liaison point between the CAP volunteers and the Air Force Chaplain Service. This relationship continued into the 21st Century when the Air Force decided that providing an active duty chaplain was no longer feasible. The Air Force Chaplain Corps continues to exercise direction and interest in the CAP chaplaincy.  CAP chaplains who qualify are named in AFI 52-101 and may be authorized to augment the Air Force Chaplain Corps.


    Growth brought other changes as well. In the early days Extension Course Institute (ECI) courses relating to active duty Air Force chaplains were used for CAP chaplains as well. As the Air Force chaplaincy grew and professional growth and development courses improved, specialized CAP chaplain training courses were developed to match the quality and focus of Air Force programs without slavishly following their content. The first Civil Air Patrol chaplain conference brought together 144 CAP chaplains from all 48 states, plus Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico. This March 1951 event at Bolling AFB, Washington, DC, was the forerunner of the annual regional chaplain staff colleges today. Then as now USAF chaplain resources supplemented CAP resources to insure the volunteers received the best possible training. In many ways, this relationship has benefited both the Air Force and CAP. It has certainly benefited the nation.


    CAP Headquarters moved from Ellington AFB, Texas, to Maxwell AFB, Alabama, in 1967. This year also saw another major change.   CAPR 35-5 brought the initial appointment grade of CAP chaplains in line with Air Force appointment policy. This meant that chaplains with both seminary education and pastoral experience were appointed in the grade of captain. By December 1968, almost 1000 chaplains served CAP. In addition, some Air Force Reserve chaplains earned retirement points without pay by ministering to CAP units. Chaplain Clarence Hobgood, the National Chaplain (as the office was then known), recognized that the special needs of the CAP Chaplaincy required a special "think tank." He spearheaded the creation of the National Chaplain Committee to do advance planning and work as required to fulfill the potential of the CAP chaplains. Chaplain Hobgood also strongly influenced the creation of the 3-day National Laboratory on Ministry to Youth in August 1969 at Maxwell AFB. More than 200 CAP chaplains, 100 cadets, and 50 college students attended this event.


    Chaplain Hobgood also appointed the first female chaplain for Civil Air Patrol. The Rev. Phyllis Keller Ingram, of the Congregational Church, was appointed in 1969. The seventies were a decade of continued major change. The first Sunday in December was designated as CAP Sunday in 1971. Chaplain Ralph Pace gained approval for CAP chaplains to join the Military Chaplains' Association in 1972.  That same year he published "Values for Living," Part 1. In 1974 the Freedom Foundation, Valley Forge, PA, awarded their Honor Award to CAP for its "Values for Living" character development curriculum. That same year, Air Reserve Personnel Center assigned five reserve chaplains to the National Chaplain's office to write the "Values for Living" curriculum. Chaplain, Lt Col (later Colonel), Frank Ebner chaired this group for the next 20 years.


    By the end of the seventies, the National Chaplain Committee proved so valuable that the National Board approved changing the titles of the chairman and vice chairman. In 1980 these positions became the National Chief of Chaplains, CAP, and Deputy National Chief of Chaplains, CAP, respectively.


    The 1990s brought new challenges. The Air Force began shrinking to a size smaller than it has ever been in its history. Consequently, many of the humanitarian missions formerly performed by active duty and reserve components will now have to be performed by CAP and other civilian relief organizations. At the same time, the emphasis on quality is forcing changes in the established ways of doing things. Chaplains at every level of responsibility must become more proactive in planning and executing their ministry. In December 1993 the first chaplain from a non-Judeo-Christian faith group entered the US Armed Forces Chaplaincy. The Civil Air Patrol chaplain service made similar adaptations as the nation becomes more pluralistic in religious composition.  The addition of Moral Leadership Officers to the CAP chaplain service team took place in 1995.  Moral Leadership Officers (MLOs) have more limited qualifications for appointment than chaplains and, therefore, more limited responsibilities.  MLOs were never intended to be chaplain’s assistants, and further, they may not perform the duties that are typically those of a chaplain.


    Significant changes have taken place with the Civil Air Patrol chaplain service since 2000.    In 2001 our nation entered into a “War on Terror” following the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon by terrorists which took place on September 11th.  With the downsizing of the military in the ‘90s and the frequent deployments of military personnel (including chaplains), many Civil Air Patrol chaplains have served as “force multipliers.”  They have offered counseling, officiated at weddings and military funerals, visited military hospitals, performed chapel services, prayed for soldiers leaving the country, and conducted services for returning troops.  Organizational changes took place at National Headquarters which have seen the day to day oversight of the Civil Air Patrol chaplain service shift from an active duty USAF Chaplain to a Corporate Director (2002) to thevolunteer National Chief of CAP Chaplain Service (2005).     


A component of cadet training conducted by Civil Air Patrol Chaplain Service personnel called Moral Leadership was renamed Character Development in keeping with the example of the Air Force Academy enabling the cadet training materials to be utilized in public school programs.  This followed a change in the format of the curriculum form the use of several discussion questions to the analysis of a case study.  The title Moral Leadership Officer became Character Development Instructor.  The USAF Chaplain Service changed its name to Corps in 2009.  To reflect our association, the CAP Chaplain Service followed suit. Later that year a formal Memorandum of Agreement was signed by Ch, Maj Gen Cecil Richardson (Chief of the USAF Chaplain Corps and Ch, Col Whitson Woodard (Chief, CAP Chaplain Corps).


    Yet with all the changes, the task of the CAP chaplain corps remains the same as at its beginning: to be a visible reminder of the Holy for women and men, boys and girls, involved in the three-fold mission of Civil Air Patrol.



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