Chaplain called to serve God, country

Cannon Air Force Base Capt. Chaplain Kyle Roehrig began his pastoral career as a United Methodist minister for seven years before joining the Air Force, where he’s served as a chaplain for six years.

What do you do all day? “It is very dependent upon the day, the week and the season. As a captain chaplain, we are traditionally the base-level chaplain,” Roehrig said.

Roehrig ministers builds relationships with the medical group and several separate squadrons. He also leads the Protestant service and provides pastoral services to the attending congregation, as well as managing various special projects.

What kind of training did you need? I have a Master of Divinity from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, plus two years mandatory practical experience in a civilian parish/ministry setting. That is the base-line mandatory in order to be an Air Force chaplain,” Roehrig said.

Chaplains may also have an equivalent of a Master of Divinity.

“Once I got into the Air Force, there’s chaplain school that you go to … And I also went to officer training school,” he said.

What made you decide to become a pastor in the first place? “I would imagine ‘God’ is too easy of an answer, but definitely a calling from God. But also many, many years caring, serving and desiring to be in relationship with others,” Roehrig said.

In college, he said, he wanted to be a photojournalist, but a mentor from church “helped me hear and affirm through all that previous experience what it meant that God was calling me.”

All his life, Roehrig wished he’d been called to the ministry, he said. One day, his mentor challenged him to say he was called and see how it felt. Roehrig said it felt right.

What led you into the Air Force? “First thing, my father was a career oral surgeon, did 20 years in the Air Force. I knew what it meant to be an Air Force brat. In the back of my mind, it seemed like not a bad life,” Roehrig said.

During seminary, he wasn’t interested in becoming a military chaplain. However, after being assigned a church, he began to wonder why he wasn’t called to that ministry, and he and his wife often discussed what it meant to serve their country.

At his second church, Roehrig felt the leaders, many of whom were Air Force retirees, affirmed “in the back of conversations” that he’d be a good military chaplain. When he was told he’d be transferred to another church, Roehrig asked his wife about the military.

She told him to go for it. In less than a year, Roehrig was an active duty chaplain, thought the process often takes longer, he said.