Raleigh Court Presbyterian Church has a long and storied history of acknowledging and honoring our Country’s military personnel as well as our own military Church members. Recognition of their service during early military conflicts is currently located on the second floor near the elevator.
Recent focus, however, was renewed when RCPC undertook the task of developing our Mission Study Report entitled, Past, Present, and Future adopted by the Session on August 25, 2014. The Mission Study team (addressed herein under separate cover) was charged with developing a comprehensive and definitive mission for our Church, to be initially used to aid the Pastoral Search Committee charged to replace our retiring Pastor, Tupper Garden. The Study, however, was and is, an ongoing document to be used as a guideline for the future direction of RCPC.
A review of the Study addresses many facets of our Church’s operation and activities. On page 55, under the heading “Our Call,” one will find an outline suggesting what our direction might be as we go forth with our activities…to reach out to active duty service members and military veterans and their families in our community.
In early 2015, Dale Hanslik, having served in the military during the Vietnam era, undertook activities to investigate the needs of our local military personnel. Having the Veterans Administration campus located in Salem Virginia, an investigation was undertaken to determine what and how our Church might provide assistance to veterans as outlined above. Other Church members participating in this endeavor were Bob Atkinson, Bill Foster, Jean Harrison, Tweetie Lyon, Steve Nash, and Wade Whitehead. With the assistance of VA Chaplains Ronald Michaux and Harold Bryant, a need was presented to our committee. One of the services offered by the VA entitled The Chaplain’s Marriage Enrichment Retreat ---From Warrior to Soulmate was in need of reinstatement and funding. After experiencing long periods of separation due to military assignments, this service has been long recognized as an integral part of assisting married couples in reestablishing relationships with each other as well as with their children and their community. The program is held once in the spring and once in the fall. It is very well designed, conducted by well trained presenters, is limited to no more than 10 to 12 couples, and is intense. Every session starts with a “meet and greet” promptly at six p.m. on Friday evening at one of the local hotels in Roanoke. Couples stay at the hotel, no children are allowed, and all expenses including hotel accommodations, meals, and class materials are provided at no charge. The meetings culminate on Sunday afternoon after lunch.
After researching and gathering documentation on this program, Dale and Bob Atkinson presented a program review to the RCPC Endowment Board of Directors on April 30, 2015, After reviewing a request for $10,000, the Board approved funding for two sessions (one year). Since that time, our Board of Deacons has adopted this VA program as part of our Church’s Mission Program and has sponsored eight sessions for approximately 85 couples (as of the end of 2018).
The VA considered the relationship with RCPC a valuable partnership with them. Dale, frequently accompanied by one of the original committee members, opened each session with a 10 to 15 minute welcoming introduction and an explanation of RCPC’s role in their program. In the fall meeting of 2017, he was joined by Andrew who also welcomed the group. On the Monday following each session a telephone call was made to the Chaplains so that a complete report could be presented to the Board of Deacons. Since our Church had been a part of this endeavor, there have been numerous success stories of couples who were on the brink of separation and divorce only to recommit to their marriage and begin a new and stronger life together.
On March 5, 2017, two of the afore mentioned VA Chaplains visited our Sunday eleven o’clock service and spoke to our Congregation during “a minute for missions.” Both expressed sincere gratitude for our kindness and support…and expressed what a pleasure it was to partner with Raleigh Court Presbyterian Church.
POSTSCRIPT - VETERANS OUTREACH
It is with deep regret that RCPC will no longer sponsor the Veterans Outreach program.
Officially known as “From Warrior to Soul Mate,” our church stepped up to join the VA in its effort to reestablish its marriage enrichment program, discontinued due to budget cuts. The VA’s program was designed to help married couples, suffering from prolonged “duty station separation,” be supported and reunited in their vows, and help them re-establish their strong commitment to each other and to their family.
As one of its ministries, RCPC provided financial support for four and one-half years. The results of the program have been heralded as remarkably successful. Over 80 couples attended the eight sessions we supported, several marriages were saved, and several couples visited our Church as a result of our generosity.
Regrettably, due to recent changes at the VA and after careful deliberation, RCPC made a decision in May 2019 to discontinue our support. We will use the funding made available by this decision to support other Ministries at RCPC.