Marines

Chaplains: serving since 1776

26 Feb 2008 | Lance Cpl. Thomas J. Hermesman

Chaplains are a very unique part of the Marine Corps. The Chaplains Corps was formed only a year after the Marine Corps itself was created.

 In the second article of the Navy regulations of 1775 which started the movement toward the chaplains read: "The Commanders of the ships of the thirteen original United Colonies, are to take care that divine service be performed twice a day on board, and a sermon preached on Sundays, unless bad weather or other extraordinary accidents prevent."

 Even though chaplains are not mentioned in this article, the reference of sermon or religious ceremony being held on board the ships shows Congress did intended to have ordained clergyman on board.

 The first chaplains were mentioned in the Journals of the Continental Congress. The Notion was to ensure the chaplain was given his fare share in the distribution of prize money.

 On January 6, 1776 Congress passed a resolution about the prize money shares and names the chaplain and his place in the Navy.

 The first chaplain known to have served in the Continental Navy was the Reverend Benjamin Balch, a Congregational minister, whose father had served in a similar capacity in the Royal Navy.

 Benjamin Balch's son, William Balch, is the first chaplain known to receive a commission in the United States Navy after the Navy Department was established in 1798.

 Now the Navy accepts clergymen or ministers for more than 100 denominations of religions and groups of faith.

 The Globe will be running a series of articles aimed toward area chaplains. These articles will cover the faiths, jobs, locations and ministries of each individual chaplain. Each month a new chaplain will be featured.