Two chapels on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton are holding worship services this weekend for the first time since closing in response to the coronavirus pandemic earlier this year.
Pendleton’s Marine Memorial Chapel and Blinder Memorial Chapel have taken several precautions to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Some of the precautions will limit the number of services the chapels will provide for base patrons attending the different worship services.
“We are glad to announce that on June 7 at 8 a.m. we will have our first worship Catholic service, and at 10:30 a.m. we will have our Protestant service,” said U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Greg Coates, the deputy command chaplain for Marine Corps Installations West, MCB Camp Pendleton.
Marine Memorial Chapel will host the Catholic service, and both locations will hold a Protestant service.
The chapels’ staff members have been preparing to open by creating solutions to mitigate the spread of disease. A mask is required in order for service members and their families to attend religious services. The chapels have also installed hand sanitization stations at the entrance. When service members and their families walk into the chapel, they will also notice the pews are staggered to maintain social distancing.
“This is our attempt to make this place a safe place for people to go for worship,” said Coates. “We will also wipe down every surface after every service.”
The chaplains are also warning high-risk individuals should refrain from attending services. High-risk individuals include people with underlying medical conditions, such as chronic lung disease, asthma and serious heart conditions.
U.S. Navy Capt. Kevin Sweeney, the command chaplain for MCI-West, MCB Camp Pendleton, says chapels have been closed for months and chaplains have never been away from the service members and their families for this long. Chaplains and religious program specialists have been using social media and conferencing applications to provide mentorship and counseling to their service members. This unusual routine has been challenging because they haven’t been able to support the service members and their families in the traditional way.
This is a step toward getting chaplains back in front of their service members and families to help practice their faith in traditional ways. The chaplains want to continue to keep the area and worship services as safe as possible till things go back to normal.
“We are super excited to gather as a community of faith again,” Coates said.
To find more information about the reopening of the base chapels and worship services being provided, visit https://www.pendleton.marines.mil/Staff-Agencies/Chaplains/.