The Rev. Chandler Whitman Irwin, CRMD

Division Officer, USS GEORGE WASHINGTON (CVN 73)
LTJG (Lieutenant Junior Grade) Chaplain Corps, U.S. Navy

What is your relationship with the Church? Share a little about yourself. How have you ministered in the Church?
Raised a Roman Catholic, I began attending The Episcopal Church in Memphis, Tennessee, upon an invitation from my best friend. Becoming very involved as a youth, I fell in love with the Church whose liturgy was familiar and welcoming along with a vibrant youth program. While ministering to the Church as a layperson, I discerned a call to the priesthood. In September 2018, with the ecclesiastical endorsement of Bishop Carl Wright, I was commissioned as a Lieutenant Junior Grade in the U.S. Navy.

How and where does Bless show up in your ministry?
In the traditional ministry setting, blessing looked very sacramental to me. As I transition into this new calling of military chaplaincy, I am quickly experiencing blessing in a much broader sense. While I see blessing show up in the Christmas Eve service as we sing Silent Night alongside those who are on duty and unable to be with their families that night, I also see it as I facilitate for those whose faith differs from my own and care for all sailors who are seeking a safe space for counseling. While serving sailors does not fall into one of the seven sacraments, the holy nature of the work, which is for all of the people whom I serve alongside, is making it sacramental for me.

How did it feel to give Blessing?
It feels abundant and holy. What I mean is, that giving blessing to others in my context never feels limited or as if there is only so much to give. I currently serve over 2,500 sailors assigned to USS GEORGE WASHINGTON, and I have the ability to be a blessing to each of them, when they need it. Even though I am endorsed by The Episcopal Church, my ministry goes far beyond those who share their faith with me to all those who share the uniform.

What gives you hope about the future of your ministry?
I work alongside other ministers, other chaplains in the Navy – right now it happens to be a Church of God minister, an imam, and a Southern Baptist pastor. Serving alongside others whose beliefs differ from mine, and yet we are all called to serve our fellow sailors, seems pretty hopeful to me for making the way for love.

The Way of Love is the Presiding Bishop’s vision for The Episcopal Church. What about the Presiding Bishop gives you hope?
The excitement that Bishop Curry has about God’s vision, as well has his ability to hone and craft that vision, is what gives me hope. It gives Episcopalians the language to talk about what we have always believed, while reinvigorating the excitement behind Jesus. Love has always been at the center of my experience with The Episcopal Church, and I am thankful for him giving language and space for people to live into that Love.

T.J. Houlihan - Development Officer

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