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New York sailors carry historic book of devotions

By J. Richard Peck*
Nov. 9, 2009 | NEW YORK (UMNS)

Sailors aboard the newly commissioned USS New York carry copies of “Strength for Service to God and Country,” a historic book of daily devotions.

Published by the United Methodist Publishing House and funded by financial gifts from 5,000 individuals and groups through the United Methodist Commission on United Methodist Men, the books have now been distributed to 400,000 people, mostly men and women in the armed forces.

The new Navy vessel is the sixth to carry the name USS New York. Sailors aboard the fifth USS New York, a battleship that saw action in both World War I and World War II, probably carried copies of the same book as the publishing house distributed over 1 million copies shortly after Pearl Harbor in 1942.

The first edition of “Strength for Service to God and Country” went to men and women in both World War II and the Korean War.

That first edition was forgotten until 11 years ago, when a California Boy Scout found a tattered copy on the bedside of his grandfather, a Navy veteran of both wars. Evan Hunsberger, a Roman Catholic, asked the United Methodist Publishing House for permission to reprint the historic book for men and women stationed at the Joint Forces Training Base in Los Alamitos. Upon approval, Hunsberger added 40 additional devotions from current national leaders.

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Hunsberger received a major boost when United Methodist Men offered to help raise funds for the project. Neither Hunsberger nor the Nashville-based commission would have guessed they would raise $1.5 million.

Chaplains stationed in Iraq, Afghanistan and bases around the globe have requested copies of the 400-page, pocket-sized book. USS New York Religious Program Specialist Edmond Garrett, a United Methodist from Mississippi, originally requested copies of the updated book. He assists Lt.Cmdr. Laura Bender, a United Methodist who serves as the ship’s chaplain.

Further information is available at www.strengthforservice.org

*Peck is director of communications for United Methodist Men.

News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or newsdesk@umcom.org.


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