MILITARY & VETERANS RECOGNITION SERVICE
Suggested Order of Worship
WELCOME & ANNOUNCEMENTS : Explanation of Today’s special emphasis & congregational greeting
Program notes and suggestions : Conduct this entire service much as you would any other Sunday worship service. You may use some or all of the special program elements included in the other suggested worship formats (color Guard, PowerPoint programs, etc). You will decide what you wish to use and how it best fits in your overall service plan. You will take some time to significantly recognize your veterans and military personnel. This may be as brief as five minutes or as long as 45 minutes, depending upon which special program elements you decide to utilize. If you have taken the time to advertise and invite visitors this will also give you an opportunity to display some of the special ministries and areas of giftedness of your local church. What follows are merely suggestions on what to include to make this special service meaningful to the military and veterans from your congregation and community.
Information for Church Bulletin or handouts : Gather the names of as many of your local church veterans and military personnel as possible. (Be sure to include the names of military reservists and National Guard personnel.) List their name, rank, branch of service (Army, Navy, etc.) when they served and perhaps a list of some of their medals, awards and decorations. If they are or were on active duty during the time of armed conflict and/or if they were wounded or cited for special service, this is always noteworthy. If your church has an LCD projector you could scroll the names, photos and information about these persons on the screen during the service or just before or after the service as the congregation is coming in or going out of the sanctuary.
Special Designated Seating for Veterans and Military : Ask as many of your active duty and reservists as possible to attend the service in their “Class A” or dress uniforms. This is optional but may prove to be very meaningful to your group of military and veterans. If you decide to do this you will want to get a commitment from some of your veterans/military ahead of time to sit in the designated area. You will also need to have a procedure in place to direct your visitors to this special seating area. Often, military and veterans are initially reluctant to call attention to themselves or to their military service. They usually appreciate, however, attempts to honor their military comrades and are deeply patriotic. If you request they participate to help you honor those brave men and women they served with and those still serving, then they will joyfully assist you. In the end, most veterans, military and family members will genuinely appreciate your attempts to honor our military.
Military Procession : One church I visited assembled many of their veterans & military in the church fellowship hall prior to service. The pastor personally thanked them for their sacrifices on behalf of the church and the nation. He asked them for the privilege to lead them into the morning worship service that morning. As the congregation was assembling for the morning worship service they were allowed to view, via an LCD projector, a pictorial review of the veterans, military and reservists from their local church. At precisely 11:01 AM the veterans and military (some of them in uniform) marched down the center aisle of the church to the designated seating area accompanied by an instrumental recording of God Bless America. Praises, applause and ultimately a standing ovation greeted the veterans and military. This proved to a particularly moving tribute to these worthy servants of the Lord. This idea may be adaptable for your setting if you think it is appropriate.
RECOGNITION : Of military, reservists, National Guard and families who are attending service with you. You may follow the outline of the Formal service or adapt totally for your setting. In any case take time to have all of your veterans, surviving family members, active duty, reservists and National Guardsmen to stand. Publicly thank them, ask your congregation to applaud them and then offer a prayer of thanksgiving and blessing upon them for their contributions to the safety and freedom of our nation. One very effective way of identifying all veterans and military personnel is by asking them to stand when a portion of their particular service hymn is played. (You may do this even if they are not sitting together in a designated area.) You can assemble this from live or recorded music. Another way, if you have access to a computer and an LCD projector, is to use a copy of the MTTM PowerPoint Presentation with music that includes the service hymns and program to honor all branches of the military including the Coast Guard. It is on CD-ROM and is about 11 minutes in length.
Be Creative! Approach this observance prayerfully and diligently. God will help you to make this a very significant event for your church and community. Please let us know how we can assist and what ideas worked for you.