Director of Public Affairs
Academy Senior Staff Chaplain (Col.) Keith Darlington realized a dream of his own last week .
He was contacted by the Air Force Chief of Chaplains’ office and offered the opportunity to represent the Air Force at church services at the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta as part of Black History Month.
Chaplain Darlington became the first Air Force chaplain ever be part of services at the home church of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., where he delivered his ministry of nonviolence. King still serves as the inspiration for the church today.
“It was truly an honor to represent the Air Force and the Air Force Academy,” said Chaplain Darlington. “The history of the church and what it means to African-Americans is humbling.”
The 23-year Air Force veteran and Cambridge, Mass., native led the congregation in prayer at both the 8 and 11 a.m. services, which were broadcast on radio and television in the greater Atlanta metropolitan area. His prayer covered a multitude of issues including the church, its members, the country’s leadership, and men and women of the U.S. military and their families.
“I really wanted Ebenezer Baptist Church to hear about the sacrifices our servicemen and women, as well as their families, make on a daily basis,” the chaplain said. “And, based on the response of parishioners during the service and my conversations with them following, I think it really hit home. I talked with many people who were very appreciative of those who serve.”
Following each service, Chaplain Darlington had the opportunity to meet the congregation of Ebenezer.
“That was truly one of the highlights of the day,” he said. “As a chaplain, it always makes you feel good to hear people who are strong in their faith, and also thankful for our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines who help provide that right for people to worship when and how they choose.”
Chaplain Darlington also had the opportunity to meet privately with Ebenezer’s pastor, Rev. Raphael Warnock, and was impressed with his vision for the church and support for its members.
“We talked about the history of the church and Reverend Warnock’s plans for the future,” he said. “It is amazing to see the legacy of the church and how Reverend Warnock plans to continue to not only serve the members of his church, but also expand and continue the fight for social justice. I also think it was helpful to provide someone such as the Reverend Warnock the opportunity to meet with someone in uniform because most people in Atlanta aren’t exposed to the military very often.”
“I’ve been to amazing places and served with incredible people during my career, and this is definitely a once in a lifetime experience,” Chaplain Darlington said in summing up the experience. “I’m honored to represent the Air Force and the Air Force Academy at such a prestigious event and be a part of Black History Month.”