Church honors military on Veterans Day

Veteran Jian Lee Sun carries the American flag into the sanctuary of St. Stephen's Episcopal Church on Sunday, Nov. 11.

Church honors military on Veterans Day
November 15
10:07 2018

By Judie Holcomb-Pack

On Veterans Day, Sunday, Nov. 11, veterans not only received a blessing by the Rev. Dr. Hector K. Sintim, priest-in-charge at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, but also an inspirational message in a sermon preached by the Rev. Ralph Botte, N.C. National Guard chaplain and a member of St. Stephen’s.

Veterans from the church were honored or memorialized in the bulletin.

Originally from New Jersey, Rev. Botte attended St. John’s University and Wake Forest University Divinity School, graduating in 2014. He was a minister of a small congregation in Walnut Cove and later a police officer in Greensboro, but felt a deep calling to the military.

He has been in the Reserves for six years and is currently assigned to the 363rd Engineering Battalion in Raleigh, where he counsels service members with their spiritual, relationship, financial and other needs, such as connecting them with community resources.

He said he and his wife had been looking for a new church and when they came to St. Stephen’s, they felt they had found their church home.

When he began his sermon, Rev. Botte said that he hadn’t been in the pulpit and preached in a year, but when he was asked to give the sermon, “my soul started to flutter, a feeling of excitement to preach again.” Rev. Botte preached on the Gospel from Mark 12:38-44, about the poor widow who put in two small copper coins in the treasury. He said that this passage is often used during a church’s stewardship campaign because it showed the unselfish giving of the widow. But Rev. Botte said there was another interpretation that could be made. The widow had choices: She could give what she had, she could have given nothing, she could have stayed away from the temple, or she could have begged outside and given those coins.

Rev. Botte said that we also have choices, to give of our money, our time, our talents. Veterans know what it’s like to give their all; their jobs and their mission come before everything else, including family. They all come with a will to serve and may even have to give their lives. Jesus gave his life for us. Rev. Botte asked the congregation to ponder the question: What are you willing to give your all to?

After the service, veterans were honored at a luncheon in the parish hall. Several veterans told stories of their time in service, many of them humorous. There was one veteran from World War II and several from the Vietnam War and Desert Storm. One veteran got a big laugh when he commented, “The two best days I ever had were in the Army: the day I went in and the day I got out.”

Rev. Botte mentioned that today’s military personnel, especially those in the Reserve, need the support of the community. “Ask them what they need,” he suggested, “and grow the awareness of the needs of service members.”

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