Prayer breakfast offers food and fellowship for the Camp Zama community | Article
CAMP ZAMA, Japan — The guest speaker at Camp Zama’s National Prayer Breakfast said all the elements that made up the event — food, fellowship, music, prayer time — are essential to fostering a community strong and healthy.
Speaking at the Camp Zama Community Club Monday morning, Chaplain (Col.) Gary Fisher, the U.S. Army Pacific Command chaplain, described it as exciting to have been invited to attend and take the speak at the event.
“This is the first time in a very long time that the community has been able to support a national prayer breakfast,” Fisher said, referring to past cancellations due to COVID-19. “It’s an incredible honor to be here for this event with such great organization.”
In his welcome address after the invocation, Colonel Christopher L. Tomlinson, commander of the U.S. Army Garrison in Japan, told the more than 100 attendees the story of the event in America. In 1952, President Harry S. Truman signed a bill proclaiming the National Day of Prayer, which President Ronald Reagan amended in 1988, designating the day to be observed as the first Thursday in May.
“It’s also important to note that the military places a high value on religious accommodations and the rights of our soldiers to observe the tenets of their respective religions,” Tomlinson said. “As members of the Army family, we are diverse in our practices, but united in our goals.”
Attendees helped themselves to scrambled eggs, potatoes, bacon, sausages and French toast and ate their meal to the accompaniment of music from the US Army Japan Band.
Community members of different faiths and backgrounds being able to share a meal together is a big part of what makes the prayer breakfast a beneficial event, Fisher said.
“I come from the South, and food is an integral part of who we are as human beings,” he said. “There are things that happen around the dinner table – conversations and connections – that can’t happen anywhere else. Sitting at a table and enjoying a delicious meal with those you know or not is extremely important.
Different command chaplains offered various after-meal prayers — for families, for peace, the armed forces and the nation — before Fisher was introduced.
The chaplain’s remarks focused on the idea of contentment. He urged those present to choose to learn to be content with life’s circumstances, problems and challenges.
“I think sometimes we get stuck,” Fisher said, referring to those challenges. “The important take-home message from today is that you can ‘unlock’ yourself by choosing to understand what contentment is and by choosing contentment despite the circumstances you find yourself in.”
The post resonated with first-time attendee Shannon Hutchinson, who said it was something she could take with her and apply to her day-to-day life and work. From Fisher’s remarks, Hutchinson said she learned that a person can “be satisfied without things or bits of things…fulfillment often happens from within.”
Hutchinson, assigned to the U.S. Army’s G-1 in Japan, said she appreciated the event for bringing the community together and for welcoming people of all faiths and even those who don’t consider themselves religious.
“It’s a great opportunity to hear words, to hear a message, to hear something that I wouldn’t normally hear,” Hutchinson said. “It involves our community and it’s about prayer, so you can’t go wrong.”
Chaplain (Captain) Chris Dorsey, the chaplain for the 311th Military Intelligence Battalion, offered prayer to the nation over breakfast. He praised the event for creating the opportunity for a community weary from COVID restrictions to rebuild a sense of togetherness.
“It’s important to have chances for the community to recover… [and] get to know each other,” Dorsey said. “I think the prayer breakfast was a great opportunity to do that, [and] to thank God not only for the things that went well, but for meeting the challenges we faced and continue to face.
Fisher agreed, saying having faith and living the tenets of one’s beliefs are two ways to deal with these challenges. Events like the Prayer Breakfast help underscore that, he said.
“[These events allow us] to be able to understand and know God, to have a relationship with him and with each other,” Fisher said. “And even without [considering] faith…this whole program allows us, as a people, to come together and focus on something outside of ourselves.