Chaplain speaks at alma mater for military appreciation

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Joel Mccullough
  • 445th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

 In a full-circle moment, one chaplain’s alma mater invited him back to North Carolina to speak at an event he found personally meaningful.

Chaplain (Capt.) Patrick Stalnaker, 445th Airlift Wing Chaplain Corps, spoke Sept. 7 at the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, in Wake Forest, North Carolina, where he earned his master’s and doctorate degrees.

“I was given the opportunity to share what God has done for me and the direction he has put my life on, that 15 years ago was not even on my radar,” Stalnaker said.

A third-generation Airman, Stalnaker is also a pastor at First Baptist Kettering in Ohio.

He said his ties to both the military and civilian communities led to the school’s invitation.

He said they were looking for someone who could speak about military chaplaincy and civilian ministry as well.

“I’m both, which is a very unique thing that they were asking for,” said Stalnaker. He added that at one point in life, he considered hanging up his military hat so he could take on a pastoral role in civilian ministry. “I didn’t know you could put the two together, but boy was I wrong.”

Stalnaker and his family, wife Anne and daughter Adeline, were all invited to the evangelical seminary for the military appreciation event.

A chapel service is held twice a week at the school where students are required to give a sermon for course completion.

That morning the captain preached at the chapel service.

“In that same room 15 years ago is where I felt called to service as a chaplain,” Stalnaker said. “It’s pretty cool how that came full circle.”

In his sermon, he shared why he serves both in the military as a chaplain and as a pastor. He said his purpose is rooted in a Biblical event, the Great Commission, detailed in Matthew 28.

According to Stalnaker, this passage serves as a call to action for missionaries all over the world.

The Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary is known for equipping and sending out missionaries, he explained.

Stalnaker said he’s deemed a missionary to the military, and he always knew he would end up serving in the Air Force; he just didn’t know it would be in this way.

That night he spoke again as a keynote for the school’s military affairs office. The primary topic of his speech at the event was discussing how military members are wired just a bit differently.

“We understand sacrifice in a different way,” Stalnaker said during his speech. “Every one of us that has deployed brings back more than sand on your boots. It leaves marks and memories in your brain. Those experiences are part of the process that shape us and build character.”

He added this invitation was a once-in-a-lifetime event for him and one of the most humbling things he’d ever done.

“It’s so surreal. There are words I can’t find for it,” Stalnaker said. “The emotions of sitting in the front row when your friend of 17 years, who’s in leadership at the school, introduces you, and shares things like his view of me. It still hasn’t fully sunk in for me. Having my daughter there, who was born there, so many things came full circle for us.”