Civil Air Patrol: A Pastor’s Opportunity

Daryl S. Jeffers

FrontLine • May/June 2009

On a beautiful summer day in 1996 I stood on the porch of the old terminal building at the Jimmy Stewart Municipal Airport in Indiana, Pennsylvania, and watched a challenging competition taking place between some highly skilled aviators. Another spectator observing the same contest saw my interest in this exhibition of piloting skill and, after introducing himself to me, explained the rules and purpose of what I was watching. Thus began my relationship with Captain Keith Rearick and my introduction to the chaplaincy of the Civil Air Patrol (CAP). When Keith, the local CAP squadron commander, found out I was both a pilot and a pastor, he inquired as to whether or not I would consider joining the local CAP squadron and becoming its chaplain. After learning more of the program and the opportunities it would afford me to expand the boundaries of my own pastoral ministry, I agreed to his request. This was a chance to serve my local community and my country as a citizen and a Christian.

I soon found out that becoming a chaplain in the Civil Air Patrol is a somewhat lengthy process. Chaplain candidates must meet the same religious standards as US military chaplains. They must receive an ecclesiastical endorsement from a national religious official approved by the Armed Forces Chaplains’ Board (AFCB) and possess both accredited undergraduate and graduate seminary degrees. The candidate must also be engaged in a vocation acceptable to the AFCB-approved endorser for clergy of his denomination. While I had the necessary ministry experience as well as the undergraduate and seminary degrees required to become a chaplain, my degrees were not from institutions that were accredited at the time of my graduation. In order to have these validated, I applied for endorsement to the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship International Commission on Military Chaplaincy. I received invaluable help from Dr. H. Philip Kissinger, the Chairman of the Commission. He spent countless hours on my behalf appealing to key personnel in the Air Force Chaplain Service to accept my endorsement and appoint me as a Civil Air Patrol chaplain. Because of his untiring efforts I was accepted and approved as a chaplain in the United States Air Force Auxiliary on May 12, 1997.

My time as a CAP chaplain has been a richly rewarding experience affording me many ministry opportunities. I have had the privilege of ministering to many cadets and senior members, both locally and statewide. I conduct monthly cadet character development sessions and have had many doors opened up for me to witness to everyone from Wing Commanders to the newest cadet member. I am one of the few chaplains in Pennsylvania who is also a pilot, which has helped me gain respect from fellow CAP pilots and has afforded numerous occasions across the state to share the gospel. As a pilot chaplain I have flown numerous missions involving search and rescue, drug eradication, homeland security, cadet orientation flights, and mission check pilot sorties. As a CAP chaplain I have been privileged to perform weddings, make hospital visits, attend funerals, and conduct workshops. As the Pennsylvania Group One chaplain, I wrote a monthly chaplain’s column entitled In the Grid, which was disseminated to CAP and Air Force personnel across the state.

I am fortunate to pastor a church where the members encourage my participation as a chaplain in the Civil Air Patrol. Every year my church invites the CAP members and their families to join them for a special service designated as CAP Sunday. The chaplaincy has afforded me this and other venues to preach the gospel to those who may never have heard it otherwise.

If you are looking for an opportunity as a pastor to broaden your pastoral ministry while simultaneously serving your community and country, let me encourage you to become a member of the Civil Air Patrol. It is a wonderful way to make a positive impact on people’s lives for eternity. Incidentally, Captain Keith Rearick, the man who introduced me to the Civil Air Patrol, and his entire family have become members of my church. The CAP chaplaincy is indeed a rewarding ministry.

Dr. Daryl Jeffers holds degrees from Central Baptist Theological Seminary and Bob Jones University. He pastors Calvary Baptist Church of Clymer, Pennsylvania, and has been an active member of the Civil Air Patrol for thirteen years. He is the recipient of both the Civil Air Patrol Pennsylvania Group 1 Chaplain of the Year and the Northeast Region Chaplain of the Year awards. He and his wife, Janet, have four children.

(Originally published in FrontLine • May/June 2009. Click here to subscribe to the magazine.)