News

SAGU alumna serves as chaplain in U.S. NavyWaxahachie, Texas — June 25, 2013 — Southwestern Assemblies of God University (SAGU) alumna Jennifer Reffel Howe serves as a chaplain in the U.S. Navy.

Howe says, “I love getting to know the people I work with. It’s an honor to hear their stories and walk alongside them.”

Howe was commissioned for active duty in January 2013. She is stationed at Naval Support Activity Panama City Beach, Fla., where she works with a variety of service members, such as members of the Navy Diving and Salvage Training Center. Howe says, “In addition to being present at various training exercises activities, I spend the majority of my time counseling.”

Howe coordinates volunteer efforts twice a month as part of a tradition called COMRELS. “COMRELS are opportunities for sailors and civilians to give back to the community through a variety of service projects,” says Howe. She continues, “Some of my favorite experiences are participating in volunteer opportunities within the community. We are able to step away from our daily tasks to volunteer at places such as the Panama City Rescue Mission, Habitat for Humanity and various Catholic charities.”

Howe elaborates on the unique challenges of chaplaincy, “Learning to minster effectively within an institutional, pluralistic setting versus a church setting has often been challenging. As a chaplain in the military, you provide for those of your own faith, but also facilitate for members of faiths groups very different from your own. There are boundaries and ways things have to be done, and you must learn to work within those boundaries.”

Howe is from Mansfield, Ohio. In Fall 2001, she began the Master’s Commission program at Fort Myers First Assembly of God in Fort Myers, Fla. During her two years in Master’s Commission, Howe developed an interest in Navy chaplaincy.

In Fall 2003, Howe enrolled at SAGU. She graduated in Spring 2006 with a Bachelor of Science in church ministries with a counseling and psychology specialization.

Howe believes that her time at SAGU prepared her academically for further studies and for a career in chaplaincy. She says, “At SAGU I continued to develop the spiritual foundation built during Master’s Commission and began developing an academic foundation. I began to see how God intended my spiritual and academic lives to work together.”

Howe enrolled at Ashland Theological Seminary (Ashland, Ohio) in October 2006 and graduated with a Masters of Divinity with a concentration in clinical counseling in June 2010. In 2011, Howe received her license as a professional counselor from the Ohio State Licensure.

In November 2009, during her last year of graduate school, the Navy commissioned Howe into the Chaplain Candidate Program Officer (CCPO). She attended Officer Development School in Newport, R.I., and Navy Chaplain School at Fort Jackson, S.C. Howe received on-the-job training with active duty chaplains at three locations: the Navy SEABEES in Port Huneme, Calif., Marine Officer Candidate School (OCS) in Quantico, Va., and the Naval Medical Center Portsmouth in Portsmouth, Va.

Howe worked as an associate pastor at Velocity Church in Mansfield, Ohio, for two years. During this time she also served as a staff counselor at Samaritan House Counseling Center in Mansfield.

Southwestern Assemblies of God University (SAGU) is a private, Christian university located 30 minutes south of the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex in Waxahachie, Texas. The university was established in 1927, and now offers more than 60 associate, bachelor’s or master’s degrees on campus or online. More information is available at www.sagu.edu or by calling 1-888-YES-SAGU.