Life at the 'Lik: Base chapel accommodates all faiths

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Nicole Sikorski
  • 39th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
Editor's note: This article is part of a series designed to provide in-depth information to both current and future members of Team Incirlik about topics specific to Incirlik and Turkey. The goal is to assist Airmen and families in making informed decisions about their move to the area and to provide guidance about local policies, procedures and quality of life matters.

The freedoms of American citizens are being defended by men and women in uniform all over the world every single day - one of those freedoms being religion.

The Incirlik Air Base Chapel staff makes it their priority not only to protect, but also support the first amendment right to freedom of religion, which encompasses all religious beliefs and practices. They are here to accommodate people in worshiping, no matter what their faith may be, said Lt. Col. Paul Castillo, 39th Air Base Wing chaplain.

"We are here to support and accommodate all faith groups that identify that there is a need or requirement to support their faith," said Castillo.

Spiritual wellness is one of the domains of Comprehensive Airman Fitness, which keeps Airmen ready to fly, fight and win.

"Spiritual wellness is sometimes an area that is most neglected," said Castillo.

The chapel offers services on Sunday which include Roman Catholic mass, Protestant gospel and contemporary style, and The church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

These services cater to the largest demographics in the Incirlik AB religious community.

For the services the chapel doesn't offer, the chapel has a list of contacts for Team Incirlik members who help people to practice their faiths.

If there isn't a point of contact, the Chapel is more than willing to coordinate for you to become one, said Staff Sgt. Thomas Myers, 39th ABW NCO in charge of chapel resources.

"We encourage members to step up and help others of their same faith," said Myers. "Once a religious group is registered with the chapel, (we) can then provide support to that program in the form of facilities, manning and even funds."

The base chapel offers space at both the base chapel and The Connection which have rooms available to be used for services, and are authorized to burn candles.

A priority for the chapel staff is ensuring religious accommodation. If assistance is requested, the staff can help sponsor the pursuit of faith through literature or other means the requester needs to conduct their service.

For holidays and religious celebrations, the chapel staff works to the best of their ability to help service members partake in those events. Accommodation starts at the lowest level. If needed, they can utilize their chain of command and the chapel will help educate them on customs.

According to Staff Sgt. Phatsalavanh Oukham, 39th Comptroller Squadron finance customer service supervisor, the chapel has been very helpful in her religious needs.

"They don't have any programs for my specific religion," she said. "In the past I have been able to go to the chapel, and feel that I still could get assistance. One of my past supervisors didn't (understand my customs on a religious) holiday, and the Chaplain helped to educate them so that I could get the day off to celebrate."

For more information about Incirlik AB chapel services please call DSN 676-6441.