Base chapel staff hosts 2009 National Prayer Luncheon

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Dillon White
  • 341st Missile Wing Public Affairs Office
More than 130 Malmstrom Airmen and families attended the 2009 National Prayer Luncheon Feb. 9 at the Grizzly Bend Club. 

The national prayer luncheon's roots can be traced back to 1942 when according to the prayer luncheon program, senators and congressmen gathered to pray for the nation during World War II. 

The historical significance of the luncheon is not the only aspect that makes the event special. 

"It is a great example of uniting diverse faiths under the common goal of prayer for our nation," said Chaplain (Maj.) Keith Muschinske, 341st Missile Wing chaplain. 

The luncheon also provides chapel staff with an opportunity to show the wing what their daily mission involves, which is supporting and facilitating the religious freedoms of the Air Force family. 

This year's event began with musical arrangements played by the Chinook Winds, a quintet from Montana State University, the Malmstrom Men's Ensemble and the Malmstrom Gospel Choir. 

Following these performances, Airmen read selections from the Quran, the Torah and the New Testament. Airman 1st Class James Anderson, 341st Missile Maintenance periodic maintenance team member, even read Al Fatiha, a passage from the Quran, in both Arabic and English. 

"I really like that [Airman Anderson] read it in both languages," said Airman 1st Class Concordiajo Duplechin, 341st Security Forces Squadron member. "He kept up with the 60 beats-per-minute pace that it is supposed to be read at. I was impressed." 

Chaplain (Brig. Gen.) David Cyr, Air Force deputy chief of chaplains, delivered a message outlining prayer topics for those in attendance. He said although we are from different backgrounds, in community settings like the prayer luncheon, people come together as one nation under God to share common beliefs that resonate within the American heart. 

"The prayer luncheon is a great example of the strength that comes from diversity -- diverse religious faith, diverse musical styles, diverse backgrounds and talents of our Airmen," Chaplain Muschinske said. "It is solid evidence that we can be even more than 'tolerant' of those who are different -- we can celebrate our diversity even as we celebrate the unity we share as defender-citizens of this great country." 

The chaplain opened his message with a joke about long sermons, and promised to keep his message short. 

"I am pretty open to every message I hear in regards to prayer," said 1st Lt. Miranda Thompson, 341st Mission Support Group executive officer. "I especially liked the acronym the general presented: PRAY People, Responsibility, America, You ... just a few things to consider when praying ...." 

The acronym PRAY was the backbone of the message which began with 'P' for people.
The chaplain said as a nation, we represent every kindred, tongue, nation and continent. He described American people as "a beautiful bouquet of diversity; a diversity that has become our strength." 

He urged the guests to pray for courageous people from American history like Nathan Hale and Rosa Parks, and to pray for such individuals in our time. 

'R' stood for our responsibility, he said. 

"It's who we are. It's our mission. We are our nation's military arm and what we do every day is extremely important," Chaplain Cyr said. "It makes the difference in whether the people in the United States get up in the morning and go about their routines or not." 

The chaplain said we must do our jobs well because if a generation fails to, it risks everything. 

The 'A' represents America. To illustrate his thoughts on America, Chaplain Cyr quoted French writer Alexis de Tocqueville, who, in his opinion, "Hits the nail on the head." 

"'I sought for the greatness of the United States in her commodious harbors, her ample rivers, her fertile fields, and boundless forests -- and it was not there,'" the general recited. "'I sought for it in her rich mines, her vast world commerce, her public school system and in her institutions of higher learning -- and it was not there. I looked for it in her democratic Congress and her matchless Constitution -- and it was not there. Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits flame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because America is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great!'" 

"'Y' stands for you," he said. "America's true heroes sit at these tables right here. They are the ones who go in harm's way to defend this great nation's honor, national security interests and keep this blessed way of life going. You go in harm's way for millions who you may never know this side of heaven so they might enjoy the freedoms of this great land." 

Families who wait for loved ones to return and those who stay behind to take on the extra work are in the truest sense, what it means to be a hero, he said. 

The Malmstrom Men's Ensemble followed the general's remarks by leading the luncheon in a rendition of "America the Beautiful." 

From its start in World War II, national prayer observance's popularity has grown; events are now held in more than 70 countries.