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Chaplain in Afghanistan Invents Portable Chapel Kit

By 1st Lt. Ashley Dellavalle, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service

KER KHOT CASTLE, Afghanistan, April 10, 2007 – Army Chaplain (Capt.) Andrew Shriver dedicated the first “expeditionary portable chapel kit” on Good Friday, April 6, during a ceremony at a small forward operating base in the southeastern region of Afghanistan.

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Army Chaplain (Capt.) Andrew Shriver stands next to his expeditionary portable chapel kit in preparation for its dedication and first worship service on Good Friday. U.S. Army photo

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Shriver, 864th Combat Engineer Battalion chaplain, developed the chapel kit as a means to provide religious service to this small FOB. The kit is the middle-ground solution between “containerised,” or prefabricated, chapels, used at large forward operating bases, and a chaplains’ kit, a small bag that chaplains hand carry.

Shriver said he designed the kit to address the problem of bringing religious support to small operating bases where a chaplain is not present all the time.”

“The soldiers themselves can utilize the kit each week for worship services and bible studies,” He said.

Among the guests at the Good Friday service were the command sergeant major of Task Force Rugged, Army Command Sgt. Maj. Frank Busch; the 864th Engineer Battalion commander, Lt. Col. Mark Deschenes; and the battalion’s senior enlisted leader, Command Sgt. Maj. Charles Turner.

“Chaplain Shriver has been very creative in designing this whole idea, which I think will not only benefit the soldiers here, but could also be utilized at many small operating bases around this country,” Deschenes said.

The expeditionary portable chapel kit consists of a large folding table for an alter, 24 folding chairs, an altar cross, candlesticks, chalice and paten (a small plate to hold Communion hosts), alter linens, silk flower arrangements in vases, votive candles, a chaplain resupply kit, and religious candles, among other items.

Shriver handcrafted the vases for the silk flower arrangements out of mailing tube, spray paint, and sand. All of the items, except the chairs and table fit in a wooden crate that easily can be transported on a helicopter.

The 864th Engineer Battalion plans on using the concept on Construction Base Pacemaker in the future, officials said.

(Army 1st Lt. Ashley Dellavalle is the public affairs officer for Task Force Rugged.)

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Related Sites:
Combined Joint Task Force 82

Click photo for screen-resolution imageArmy Chaplain (Capt.) Andrew Shriver prepares for the dedication of the expeditionary portable chapel kit on Good Friday. The kit fits in a wooden box that can easily be transported on a helicopter to remote sites. U.S. Army photo  
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