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Offutt chaplains add virtual services amid pandemic

Hand of a chaplain on a bible with a smart photo recording a mass with empty pews.

Chaplain 1st Lt. Philip O'Neill prepares for a virtual mass. Following the directions of the President and Governor Ricketts, in response to the CoronaVirus pandemic, the base chapel here is changing the format of all worship services from in-person to virtual worshipping. (U.S. Air Force photo by J.B. Artley)

priest at altar holding up raised chalice for blessing with cell phone in foreground recording the mass for virtual reality.

Chaplain 1st Lt. Philip O'Neill prepares for a virtual mass. Following the directions of the President and Governor Ricketts, in response to the CoronaVirus pandemic, the base chapel here is changing the format of all worship services from in-person to virtual worshipping. (U.S. Air Force photo by J.B. Artley)

priest at alter preparing the gifts offered before communion during a virtual mass with a cell phone in foreground.

Chaplain 1st Lt. Philip O'Neill prepares for a virtual mass. Following the directions of the President and Governor Ricketts, in response to the CoronaVirus pandemic, the base chapel here is changing the format of all worship services from in-person to virtual worshipping. (U.S. Air Force photo by J.B. Artley)

priest at altar reading the gospel, with empty pews in the background while recording virtual mass with a cell phone.

Chaplain 1st Lt. Philip O'Neill prepares for a virtual mass. Following the directions of the President and Governor Ricketts, in response to the CoronaVirus pandemic, the base chapel here is changing the format of all worship services from in-person to virtual worshipping. (U.S. Air Force photo by J.B. Artley)

OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. --

Following the directions of the President and Governor Ricketts, in response to the CoronaVirus pandemic, the base chapel here is changing the format of all worship services from in-person to virtual worshipping through the Offutt Facebook page.

This format will not include the daily masses held at the base chapel since the number of worshippers that attend is within acceptable limits.

“We will not shrink back from this crisis and fade away in silence,” said Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Kevin L. Humphrey, 55th Wing head chaplain. “Still, we will be bold, present physically, virtually, electronically and every way so we can meet the spiritual needs of our people during this time.”

There will be locations on the base for people to partake in communion starting next week. The base Chapel is also requesting that supervisors allow service members to take short breaks from their duty day to participate in communion if they choose.

The chaplain’s office is also reaching out to service members of other religions to find out if they need to bring in local religious leaders to the base to accommodate the religious preferences of all members of Team Offutt.

“One on one meetings will be available to any Airmen who want to talk,” said Humphrey. “They may set up a counseling time with the chaplain via phone, but whether physical presence counseling, voice counseling, or virtual counseling, rest assured, we will be there to meet their needs.”

Humphrey also wants the Offutt team to know that during this time of suspending activities in response to the pandemic, he and his staff will still do everything in their power to help maintain the free exercise of religion.

“Adapting to change is part of the job, and all resources will be available to see that our rights to freedom of religion are not compromised,” he said. “Let us ensure that we do everything in our power to promote the free exercise of religion in every other way possible.”

Palm Sunday for the Catholic Parish will be virtual.  However, People will be able to come to the chapel, while remaining in their cars and get palms from their priest following the virtual service. 

Because Easter is such an important day for the Christian Community, we will have multiple Easter services for the Catholic and Protestant communities in which there can be no more than 50 people.  We will ask people to sign up for which service they would like to attend.

Please email the org box for more information at 55wg.hc.channel@us.af.mil