By Scott Prater
Chaplain (Maj.) Glenn Gresham is an ordained Presbyterian Pastor. He has served as the wing Chaplain for a fighter wing and spent six-months on a deployment to Iraq. He worked for a time in an Army hospital as well, but in all of those places his day-to-day function didn’t change much.
Chaplain Gresham now calls the 50th Space Wing home, and he’ll perform the same as he has in all the places he’s served.
“Primarily, most of what we do is offer confidentiality,” Chaplain Gresham said. “What anyone wants to share with us, we cannot reveal. So, we provide a safe place for people to come and discuss their problems, whether they be work or relationship related. Hopefully, we can guide them into the help they need if we can’t provide it. So those issues, no matter what the mission is, the personal issues: marriage, dating, workplace, moral and ethical issues. Those don’t change with the mission.”
Ironically, he almost never entered the chaplain profession — and the Air Force was responsible.
“I always felt a desire to enter the military,” he said. “I tried to go the pilot route, but my eyes weren’t good enough. Of course, many folks may notice that chaplains tend to be older folks, and I think that’s because we generally pursue other careers first.”
He also pointed out that chaplains generally earn masters degrees before being ordained into their denominations.
“I was in seminary when I found out about this chaplain candidate program,” he said. “Basically, you enter the reserves and you actually do your reserve time at various chapels, so my wife and I did that and we loved it. We ended up doing three reserve tours at different chapels.”
Once ordained by their denominations, ministers can then enter the Air Force either as reservists or active duty, and attend chaplain school, which teaches them how to function in the military environment.
“The chaplaincy is very good,” he said. “They provide continuing professional education courses and other learning opportunities along the way.”
Chaplain Gresham began his Air Force career at MacDill AFB, Fla. 13 years ago followed by Clinical Pastoral Education training at Walter Reed Army Hospital. The CPE training requires chaplains to work with patients while also studying and writing papers.
“If you want to work in a hospital as a chaplain, most if not all hospitals require you to go through CPE training,” he said. “The Air Force sees benefit in running chaplains through it and every year, we see six to 10 enter the program.”
From there, he moved on to Germany, where he served at Spangdahlem Air Base for three years. History will also show that Chaplain Gresham was the very last chaplain to serve at Onizuka Air Force Station, Calif., a base in the process of closure.
Once leaving Onizuka, Chaplain Gresham returned to one of his earliest stations, Shaw AFB in South Carolina and the 20th Fighter Wing. After three years there, he changed duty stations again, arriving at Schriever early this year.
He said the first thing he noticed about the base was the accomplishments of the Chaplain Corps.
“Chaplain (Capt.) Christopher Underwood just won the Wing Staff Agency Company Grade Officer of the Year award and was named Air Force Space Command Company Grade Chaplain of the Year,” Chaplain Gresham said. “Staff Sgt. Kimberly Swanagan is an outstanding non commissioned officer who does a great job running our chapel activities day-to-day. Tech Sgt. Scott Devine, our NCOIC is currently deployed to Khandahar.”
Airmen who see Chaplain Gresham receive a warm smile and hardy greeting. It’s clear he holds a passion for what he does.
“There is a great sense of satisfaction in helping people, and for me as a minister, this is the ministry God has called me to,” he said. “It’s not that we’re out being evangelistic and thumping people on the head with bibles, it’s an opportunity to help people who are in crises.”
His message to all Schriever Airmen is one of building awareness.
“The Schriever chaplain corps is here to serve the men and women of Schriever AFB and to facilitate their right to freely exercise their religion,” he said. “There is always a chaplain on call and our door is always open. If people need to contact us after hours they can contact the command post, who will contact us.”