RSO awarded thousands in grant money

The U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart Religious Support Office recently received a $148,000 ecclesiastical equipment grant to enhance the spiritual well-being of the Stuttgart military community.

Every year the Army Chief of Chaplains Office collects residual offerings from all the Installation Command garrisons around the world and places the offerings in a grant account, according to Chaplain (Col.) Warren Kirby, the USAG Stuttgart command chaplain.

Photo by Gloria Colon-BuzatuMauriceWilkes (left) and Ike Nwangoro perform with the gospel choir during the USAG Stuttgart Gospel worship service Feb. 10 at the Panzer Chapel. The USAG Stuttgart Religious Support Office recently purchased $64,000 in musical instruments with funds from an ecclesiastical equipment grant.

Photo by Gloria Colon-BuzatuMaurice
Wilkes (left) and Ike Nwangoro perform with the gospel choir during the USAG Stuttgart Gospel worship service Feb. 10 at the Panzer Chapel. The USAG Stuttgart Religious Support Office recently purchased $64,000 in musical instruments with funds from an ecclesiastical equipment grant.

The grant program assists commanders with needed funds to improve facilities and worship services in constrained budgetary environments.

Like many grant programs, applying for an ecclesiastical equipment grant is a complicated and intense process.  The time-consuming task, according to RSO officials, was worth it. The Stuttgart RSO received the largest grant award given this year.

“We did not want to pass up the opportunity to be ‘blessed’ from the Chief of Chaplains Office,” said Chaplain (Lt. Col.), Steven Jerles, U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart deputy command chaplain and grant project lead.

“We worked hard and sat down together as a team … to identify our needs and justify what we needed. That’s the process,” Jerles said.

The RSO had August and September to plan and gather all the justifications required to meet the application deadline.

“It was no small task,” said Andrea Spencer, U.S. Army Stuttgart RSO command chaplain administrator and grant project team member.

RSO chaplains and staff asked all chapel-sponsored organizations, such as Strong Bonds, a chaplain-led program, or Mothers of Preschoolers what they needed to enhance their capabilities and ministry.

“Justifying the needs was very intense. We had to research each item on whether it was cost effective to purchase in Europe or the U.S., how easy it would be to replace parts, and whether safety would be an issue,” explained Spencer.

In all, the RSO requested 20 different types of equipment that included furniture, stools and DVDs for watch care, an RSO childcare program offered during worship services and special programs, and three grand pianos and other musical instruments.

“Music is a requirement as an element of worship and is an essential element of religion,” said Garrison Command Chaplain Kirby.

Thanks to the grant, the Youth Ministry will now have musical instruments they didn’t have before, such as guitars, bass guitars and a cajón (an inexpensive instrument for a full drum sound), according to Deputy Command Chaplain Jerles.

The chapels on Panzer Kaserne, and Patch and Robinson Barracks will each add a grand piano, digital keyboard, and digital multimedia projector with enhanced lighting for high-quality images.

“All three chapels will now have the same capability for video. The units that use the facilities for training, like for suicide prevention or any number of other training opportunities, now their capabilities increase as well,” Jerles added.

The Garrison Command Chaplain compared the grant process to scripture (Matthew 7:7): “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”

“You get not if you ask not,” Kirby said. “If we would have chosen to do nothing, we would have got nothing.”

The USAG Stuttgart RSO offers Protestant, Church of God in Christ, Catholic and Jewish worship services. Other programs include Protestant Women of the Chapel and religious education classes. For more information, visit 

www.stuttgart.army.mil/RSO/RSO.html.