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Faith and Inspiration

Graduate from Apopka's Forest Lake Academy serves with the Navy Chaplain Corps


MILLINGTON, Tenn. - Lt. Bron Jacobs recently completed training at Naval Chaplaincy School to serve as a chaplain for America’s seafaring warfighters. 
Jacobs graduated from Apopka's Forest Lake Academy in 1995 and earned a Ph.D. from the University of Missouri.

The skills and values needed to succeed in the Navy are similar to those found at Forest Lake Academy in Apopka.
Lt. Bron Jacobs graduated from Apopka's Forest Lake Academy in 1995 and earned a Ph.D. from the University of Missouri.
Lt. Bron Jacobs graduated from Apopka's Forest Lake Academy in 1995 and earned a Ph.D. from the University of Missouri.

“The one thing that I could say I've learned from my hometown would be advice I received from an elder mentor of mine,” said Jacobs. “He told me that if I kept my hands and heart pure and had an industrious work ethic, the sky would be the limit to my potential with what God could do.”

Jacobs joined the Navy one year ago.

“I joined the Navy because, after a 23-year pastoral ministry career, I felt God calling me into a more ecumenical environment where I would be able to minister to people from various backgrounds and different religious spectrums,” said Jacobs. “After a season of prayer, the United States Navy felt like an ideal option.”

More than 800 Navy chaplains from more than 100 faith groups, including Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and Buddhist, serve in the Navy Chaplain Corps. After seven weeks of training at the Naval Chaplaincy School and Center at Naval Station Newport, Rhode Island, the chaplains set on their mission to support and guide sailors, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen at sea and on the shore.

“In conversations about national defense, you hear about great power competition and competition among peers and near-peers,” said Capt. Charles Varsogea, chaplain and commanding officer of the Naval Chaplaincy school. “The people of the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard have no peers. Part of what makes them peerless defenders of the Constitution is their determination to do so with body, mind, and spirit. No nation on earth can replicate the fighting spirit of our sea services. The graduates of our Basic Leadership Course are trained, developed, and inspired to give our seagoing warfighters the strength of spirit necessary to complete their missions with honor.”

Chaplains and religious program specialists (RP) play a critical role in helping the Department of the Navy achieve and maintain a ready force through the delivery of professional religious ministry and compassionate pastoral care. Chaplains and RPs are embedded within commands operating at sea and ashore to ensure 24/7 availability. They provide a source of comfort and refuge that enables service members and their families to practice and grow in their faith and to face personal and professional challenges.

“Navy chaplains encourage their shipmates to connect to the ultimate good and to a community that shares their convictions about what or who that good is,” said Varsogea. “Navy chaplains help people find the value, the meaning, and the purpose of their lives. Navy chaplains support people in their willingness to serve and sacrifice for the greater good.”
In the Basic Leadership Course, Navy chaplains learn to tailor religious ministry to life in the sea services, said Varsogea. They also learn how to facilitate the free exercise of religion for people of faiths other than their own. They learn service-specific ways to care for all people and how and when to render their best military advice.

With 90% of global commerce traveling by sea and access to the internet relying on the security of undersea fiber optic cables, Navy officials continue to emphasize that the prosperity of the United States is directly linked to recruiting and retaining talented people from across America's rich fabric.

Jacobs serves a Navy that operates far forward, around the world, and around the clock, promoting the nation’s prosperity and security.

“We will earn and reinforce the trust and confidence of the American people every day,” said Adm. Lisa Franchetti, chief of naval operations. “Together, we will deliver the Navy the nation needs.”

Jacobs has many opportunities to achieve accomplishments during military service.

“At this point in my career, my most significant accomplishment in the Navy is passing all of the physical requirement tests, especially considering the age waiver required of me to join the military,” said Jacobs.

Jacobs honors those service members who came before him.

“When I think of serving in the Navy, I think of many of the African-American sailors who came before me who demonstrated a loyalty to the Navy even when the Navy was not loyal back to them,” added Jacobs. “The history books are filled with stories of sailors of color who gave their all to the Navy despite dealing with stiff discrimination and facing severe racial barriers. It is their legacy that gives me the will to press forward.”
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