Story by CPT Linda Gerron on 07/24/20189th Mission Support Command Soldiers and community leaders gathered here July 3 to celebrate a ribbon cutting and dedication ceremony hosted by the command unit ministry team for a non-denominational prayer room designed for the Soldiers of the Fort Shafter Flats community.
The celebration also recognized the completion of a stained glass by Michelle Caron, a local artist who was awarded the contract to design and construct the window in 2017, which now adorns the sole window of the Ke Alaula Prayer Room in building 1550, room A240.
"By having a room dedicated to religious practice and spiritual fitness, this command and this community communicates to Soldiers the importance of religion and spiritual readiness," said Chaplain (Col.) Charles E. Lynde, the 9th MSC command chaplain.
"The stained glass, which is associated with sacred spaces and the beauty of Hawaii, helps bring light to a once windowless room and encourages Soldiers to practice their faith and gain the spiritual strength, love, hope, peace, and grace that is available from God alone, yet are so crucial to overall readiness and resiliency," he added.
According to Sgt. 1st Class Jostene Philostin, the 9th MSC senior religious affairs NCO, prior to the Ke Alaula Prayer Room, services were conducted at various locations throughout the 9th MSC.
"We didn't have a specific place of worship," he said. "There were times we held services in conference rooms and even cubicles, and those locations were always based on date and time availability."
Fortunately, in 2016 Lynde received word of a vacant room and requested to occupy it through the Theatre Support Group, the unit that manages Army Reserve facilities, and was approved; thus setting the path to renovate it as a prayer room.
"As soon as we received approval from the TSG, we immediately applied for and were awarded the Ecclesiastical Equipment Grant by the Army Chief of Chaplains," said Lynde. "This in turn made it made it possible for us to completely furnish the prayer room."
However, Lynde says the overall key to making this project a success wasn't entirely based on the award, but rather the hard efforts that came from Philostin and Caron.
"It was Sgt. 1st Class Philostin who initiated the contract paperwork, cleaned and prepared the room, and arranged for the dedication ceremony," said Lynde. "I am grateful for his hard work and faithfulness to complete the task."
"I am also thankful for Caron's perseverance," he added. "This was the first time she ever contracted with the federal government, so she had to learn the contracting system from beginning to end, while also designing and building a beautiful piece of stained glass art."
Since the ceremony, the Ke Alaula Prayer Room has been the used by multiple chaplains for services, group meetings, and other religious affairs.
The prayer room is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and can be reserved through the command unit ministry team for weekend activities.