Skip to main content
Related Content
Document Type
  • Documentary Histories
Wars & Conflicts
  • Vietnam Conflict 1962-1975
File Formats
  • PDF (Portable Document Format)
Location of Archival Materials
The Navy Chaplain's Manual

The Navy Chaplain's Manual.pdf


Navy Chaplain’s



Chaplain, U.S. Navy
Introduction by

With an Introduction by

Issued by
Authority of the Secretary of the Navy






Copyright 1918 by John B. Frazier

Published by the General Committee on Army and Navy Chaplains of the Federal Council of the Churches of Christ in America and the General War-Time Commission of the Churches, 105 East 22nd Street, New York City. 

Note: Minor editorial corrections to the original text have been made throughout this 2017 reprint. This edition has been prepared with the assistance of the Naval History and Heritage Command, Washington, DC.





In 1917, Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels appointed Captain John Brown Frazier as the first Chief of Chaplains of the Navy. Frazier was immediately faced with a daunting task: molding a disparate group of sea-going clergy into a cohesive Chaplain Corps.

To that end, a year later, Chaplain Frazier published a short book—a booklet really—The Navy Chaplain’s Manual. He did not intend his manual to be comprehensive. Frazier does not touch on theology and he more or less assumes (or hopes) that a Navy chaplain is already a religious ministry professional. Rather, Frazier attempts to explain how a competent clergy member can be effective in the unique setting of the Navy, specifically aboard Navy ships.

Of course much has changed in the century since Frazier published his little book. Today’s chaplain will probably not attempt to “scare them to death” by painting a horrible picture of venereal disease for his sailors. And a commanding officer might find it strange if her new chaplain pays an official call on her quarters within three days of reporting as regulations then required.

But much of Frazier’s wisdom remains helpful. Chaplains today can profit from his description of what makes a good shipmate. His analysis of the chaplain’s difficulty caused by facing few prescribed tasks along with many un-prescribed tasks remains valid. And what chaplain has not shared Frazier’s wistfully understated experience: “Great companies of men, separated from the refining influence of home and exposed to the temptations of seaport towns, are not always in a frame of mind or heart that leads to a ready response to the Chaplain’s efforts”?

Chaplain John Brown Frazier started the Navy Chaplain Corps on a path of greater professionalism, a path it remains on today. The Navy Chaplain’s Manual continues to provide wisdom, humor, and encouragement to competent clergy members seeking to be effective chaplains in the Navy.


Margaret Grun Kibben

Rear Admiral, CHC, USN

26th Chief of Chaplains of the Navy





Having been a minister to all sorts and conditions of men for many years, and a chaplain in the Navy for three months, I have learned enough to be glad of the privilege of commanding this sound, whole¬some, inspiring little handbook about the duties and the work of a naval chaplain.

The writer, Chaplain J. B. Frazier, is a man of long experience and marked success in this particular branch of the manifold Christian ministry to human life. He knows the difference between the work of a regular pastor in a church ashore, made up of families who live in houses and are engaged in the ordinary affairs of civil life, and the work of a chaplain in the Navy, whose flock and force are all men set apart to a special service for their country, spending most of their lives afloat, under orders which may send them around the world to main¬tain the honor of the flag and defend the life of the republic.

These men of the Navy are in a class by themselves. They must needs live, for their country’s sake, under special conditions. They have their own traditions and customs, their regulations and strict rules, necessary to that fine discipline which makes our Navy an efficient force, ready for service anywhere at any moment.

Yet while they are thus set apart, they are men like their brothers. Indeed, they seem to be notably endowed with the qualities of common manhood. Their hopes and desires and affections, their temptations and their wants, their strength and their weakness, are all most evidently and appealingly human. They need the ministry of religion just as we all need it, for cheer and comfort, for guidance and inspiration, for restraint and encouragement, for self-reliance and brotherhood, for mortal consolation and for immortal hope. But the men of the Navy need this religious ministry in a form which recognizes and meets the conditions of their daily life. Christ must come home to them on the sea.

Here is the value of this book. It is not a theological treatise. It is not a handbook of ecclesiastical rites and ceremonies. It is a simple and wise manual of applied Christianity in the service of the Navy.
Every minister of religion may read it with profit. It teaches the great lesson of spiritual adaptation.

Take that paragraph on page 14 on “the faithful performance of unprescribed duties.” There is the secret of good work in the cause of Christ. Lay that lesson to heart. Unless we go beyond what is required of us we are unprofitable servants.

The book is full of sanctified common sense. It is true to the spirit of Christ; and it expresses the best ideas and traditions of the American Navy.


Henry Van Dyke


Of better stuff than heroes men are made Who in this are of deadly awful strife Stand all alone, uncrowned, unheralded, Proclaiming for the noblest things of life.

On battlefield the sound of clashing arms Makes cowards fight and drives the weakling’s blood Through stagnant veins that ne’er before have known A near approach to warrior’s crimson flood.

But he who fights against relentless foe When silence reigns and cheer of eager van Greets not he ear, but steadfast and alone Drives back the hosts of sin, he is a man.







The Chaplain’s Manual

At a banquet given in Seattle, Washington, to a visiting fleet, the Commander-in-Chief was asked to respond to the toast, “Our Chap­lains.” The Admiral was a gentleman who well deserved the esteem and respect of all who knew him, and one whose long and varied ex­perience gave weight to his words. In the course of his remarks he somewhat startled his audience by the statement that “after a service of more than forty years in the Navy, he was convinced beyond the shadow of a doubt that the office of Chaplain is the most difficult in the Naval Service.” I have often thought of these words of the old Admiral. My own experience, though not so extensive as is, leads me heartily to concur in his statement.

The opinion that prevails among some people to the effect that the office is an easy one and may be filled by almost anybody, so long as he behaves himself, and frequently when he does not, is either the result of ignorance or of failure to give to the office that importance to which it is entitled and which it must have if it would succeed.

Frequently I am asked by officers of other corps why it is that we do not get better men in the Chaplains’ Corps. My invariable reply has been that “it is because so much better men are required for the Chaplains’ Corps than for any other.” I mean by this that a Chaplain must have so many virtues, and so many accomplishments, and so many other distinctively good traits of character which are considered non-essential in officers of other corps, that so long as men are made of “mud,” it is hard to get many of the who can make themselves conspicuous by reason of such superiority. I believe most officers will agree with me that the chaplaincy would not be raised in standard or efficiency were it filled by men of the caliber of other corps any more than would the standard and efficiency of other corps be low­ered were they filled by men from the ministry. The one cannot and must not be measured by the standard of the other, for there is a sharp  




line of demarcation between the two, one not alone is a difference in the nature of the work to be performed, but also by the personality of the man, the delicate nature of his office, the circumstances under which he works, and other considerations as numerous as the prover¬bial “sands.” A few concrete illustrations will bear out this statement. Other officers may cultivate a “grouch” and still be able to hold their own and get along fairly well with their work; but no matter what the difficulties or occasion for clouds and gloom, the Chaplain must always be cheerful. Other officers have their prescribed duties, and when these are completed there is very little more, if anything, that they are expected to do. The Chaplain has few prescribed duties, but if he doesn’t succeed in keeping busy, he is branded as a loafer, no mat¬ter how well he performs the duties specified in the Regulations. Oth¬er officers have a definite time and definite place, and hence definite opportunity, for their work. In addition, they are clothed with definite authority for the performance of their work, so that no man or officer dares interfere. On the other hand, the chaplain has to ask for his time and ask for his place and ask for his opportunity. In fact, he must be content to gather up the frayed ends and weave them into opportunity. Also he must stand in no one’s way, and must conflict with no one’s duty. Instead of being able, as are other officers, to tell people what they “must do,” he can only persuade, entreat, and exhort, oftentimes in the face of opposition and discouragement. Add to this the fact that a battleship is primarily a fighting machine—that this is the reason for its very existence, and that all energies must be bent toward the reali¬zation of this objective—while the Chaplain’s duties are unfortunately considered of secondary importance when compared to this greater work—that, despite his constant effort, he is unable in most cases so to magnify his office as to claim and secure time that could be used in perfecting a fighting machine—and you have a situation as difficult to contend with as one could well imagine. But this is not the conclusion of difficulties, there is another situation confronting the Chaplain with which no other officer in his work has to contend; namely, that great companies of men, separated from the refining, Christianizing influ¬ence of home and exposed to the temptations of seaport towns, are not always in a frame of mine [sic] or heart that leads to a ready response to the Chaplain’s efforts. To influence them morally and spiritually is his supreme work, and in doing this he has to battle not alone against the usual obstructions, but against these obstructions accentuated and multiplied by adverse and unnatural surroundings. If other corps were 



“up against” conditions that confront the Chaplain, it is safe to say that the results of their labor would be no more apparent; and if they understood these conditions, they would perhaps feel a broader spirit of sympathy and helpfulness for the Chaplain in his task. There is no harder field, nor is there one that affords greater opportunity to the man who has in his makeup the stuff that the job requires. Not a great many have it. If one has, he will find it out very soon. If he has not—and many good and great men are without it—he will either discover it for himself or somebody will tell him. Fortunately, no Chaplain is compelled to remain in the Navy, and if one finds that his talents are not such as to bring success to the work, the only honest course is to resign.

What elements are necessary to success? Too many to be tabulat¬ed here, but these three must not be lacking: “Grace, Grit and Gump¬tion.” There is another “G” that should be included. The reader many work that out for himself. These four “G’s” cover too wide a field to be exploited here. It may be well to say, however, that “Grace,” while embracing “faith,” means a great deal more than “to believe.” A Navy Chaplain must have not only the faith that would remove mountains, but he must have sense enough to know when to move them, and how and where to put them down. An English professor, when addressing a graduating class in theology, said to them, “Young men, there are three things essential to success in your calling. The first is Grace, which the Lord stands ready to give you; the second is Knowledge, which I have done my best to impart; the third is Common Sense. If you haven’t got the latter, neither God nor man can help you.”


The Senior Commissioned Officers live in the wardroom, and there the Chaplain has his quarters. This room, which corresponds to the sa¬loon on a liner, or a combination dining-and-sitting room in one’s own home, is the place of common gathering where, during unemployed intervals, the officers gather to read, loiter, or mingle socially. It is a place of discussion; and association here is of so intimate a nature that, despite one’s efforts to conceal and conserve, all that a man is and is capable of becoming reveal themselves as in an open book. So true is this that it has become a proverb throughout the Service. “Do you know such and such an officer?” “Yes, we have been ship-mates.” 



This probably means that he does know him—knows him as one could never know another in the walks of civil life. It therefore behooves every occupant of the ward-room to be very careful of what he does, of what he says, of how he says it, and of what he is. Especially does this advice apply to Chaplains. Their faults, if there be any, and there usually are, will be more surely magnified than if they were the faults of some other Corps. Many a career has been hopelessly ruined by neglect of the little courtesies and niceties of life; and many a sensi¬tive nature has been embittered beyond sweetening; and many a heart has been broken by a careless word, a dis-courtesy, or an open affront in the intimate association of the ward-room. It is the ship’s crucible where character is made, shaped, revealed, and marred. A friendly dis-cussion in this intimate circle lends spice and variety to the dull monotony of sea-life, and may be participated in with profit and pleasure to all concerned; but when such argument borders on the personal, or attacks the character or faith, whether political or religious, of an¬other, unless the Chaplain is sure that the occasion demands that he give a reason for the “belief that is within him,” or feels that perhaps he may be able to relieve the tension, he had best steer clear of such discussion. This does not mean that he should run away from a fight or habitually shirk from argument, but rather that discussion on delicate subjects very seldom ends in a solution of the problem or contributes to good fellowship.

One of the duties of every officer in the Navy is to be a good shipmate. In order to become one he must be willing to bear his social end of the burden, and to contribute wisely and tactfully, not alone to the good fellowship among members of the cross, but among those who may chance to be their guests. The inclination to run away when visitors appear is too often followed and frequently results in those officers, whose sense of all duty restrains them, having to bear alone a burden that belongs to all.

Don’t be too sensitive or resentful about what you hear or see in the ward-room or about the ship. Remember that your views about things that may be objectionable to you are not necessarily right; and are most assuredly not always entertained by gentlemen whose belief is just as conscientious as your own. You owe it to them and to yourself to be charitable and reasonable in your attitude towards habits of a lifetime and customs that may not meet with your approval.



If occasion should arise when your offended sensibilities cry out for redress, strangle the voice until such time as you shall have had opportunity to think the matter over. By the help of the light that comes with the “sober second thought” you may find a way to lead the erring one to higher things. It takes a wise man to “pull a mote out of a brother’s eye,” and nobody but a fool would attempt to do it with a “marlin spike.” Patience, tact, self-control, and a life so lived that it justifies the administration of brotherly reproof must predominate in the man who would show another his fault.


Every ship has a Commanding Officer. The Regulations require that officers reporting aboard ship shall pay its Commanding Officer a social call within three days after arriving. This occasion affords the Chaplain a much-needed opportunity, not only to become acquainted with his Captain, but also to discuss with him such matters as may be of importance to his work.

The next in command is the Executive Officer, who represents the Commanding Officer, as between the Chaplain and himself. In other words, the Chaplain transacts all his business through the Executive Officer. If he wants to hold church he asks the Executive Officer. If he wants to do anything else of an official nature—and all his work aboard ship is of such nature—he consults with the Executive Officer.

Generally speaking, some time is necessarily required for one to familiarize himself with the customs and traditions of the Navy; and no man reporting aboard for the first time can hope to avoid mistakes. That they may be as few as possible, it is suggested that a new Chap¬lain, within a reasonable time after arriving aboard ship, go to the Executive Officer’s room, preferably in the evening when he is un¬employed, and tell him frankly that he knows little of his new “job”; that he wants to do everything within his power for the crew, and that he would appreciate it beyond measure if he, the Executive Officer, would advise him, and, if practicable, suggest ways in which he, the Chaplain, may make himself useful. In the majority of instances, such 6




conference will result, if tactfully conducted, in establishing a whole¬some relationship of mutual confidence and understanding which the Chaplain will fine of inestimable value in the course of his career.

All requests for equipment and the like should be made to the Executive Officer. Permission to leave the ship or station and anything else of an official nature should also be secured through him. It is strongly advised that, so far as leaving ship is concerned, it be done as infrequently as possible, especially for the first few months. Request for extended leave ought not be made by a young officer in the first year of service. These are busy times, and everybody is supposed to be “on the job,” and it is a good indication for a Chaplain to feel that his presence is just as essential to the well-being of the situation as is that of any other officer.

Remember that the manner in which one addresses his superior officer is always noted and never forgotten. It must be respectful both in tone and manner; not only in tone and manner, but in form as well. The word “Sir,” when addressing any officer, should never be omitted. The salute also should never be neglected. You salute all your supe¬riors; and, should one whom you rank neglect to salute you, don’t be angry about it. It is his neglect, not yours, and it in no way reflects on you. On the contrary it bespeaks ether the ignorance or perhaps the character of the negligent officer.


It would be difficult to find a place where one’s personal habits are subject to closer scrutiny or are more constantly on exhibition than in the cramped quarters of a man-of-war. A few weeks of this intimate association are sufficient to publish to all on board what a man does and is. Habits that in civil life might not make one particularly ob¬jectionable are here so magnified by the intimacy of their touch as to make one who on shore might be a fairly decent fellow anything but a desirable ship-mate. To be a gentleman in the usual acceptation of that term is hardly a sufficient criterion. In fact, a lot of things that are ac¬cepted without hesitancy on shore would not apply to life aboard ship. Many gentlemen in civil life do not bathe oftener than once a week. Some of them shave only when the beard becomes uncomfortable. Others neglect the hair-cut, and some no doubt are not familiar with 




the hygiene of the tooth-brush or the nail-brush. The failure to observe these sanitary laws may not materially interfere with their standing; but, while such neglect on board ship may be tolerated, it brands the guilty one as lacking the elements of decency.

No one likes to eat beside another whose awkward manipulation of his knife and fork endangers the clothing of his neighbor, and to have such manipulation accompanied by the musical disappearance of soup is enough to interfere very materially with the success of tone who has no other faults.

One’s personal appearance is the first introduction one has to a stranger. The observing man who meets another for the first time for¬mulates an opinion of him even before he grasps his hand or hears the sound of his greeting. With one glance he takes in his personal appearance, and though the opinion later may be changed, first impressions are lasting. Well shined shoes, clothes carefully brushed, and linen on which there is no grime, covering the person of a careful man, bespeaks an inward cleanliness that goes far toward establishing him in the good graces of one who meets him for the first time and toward maintaining his standing among those who know him well.

There are some habits and practices in other officers that are not considered objectionable, but which in a Chaplain are at least not be¬coming. These are mentioned not to set a standard for other men—for each must be his own judge—but because young chaplains have asked for information. It is a difficult fact, but a fact nevertheless, that a clergyman is not expected to live according to the standards set by the world. Like Caesar’s wife, he must be above suspicion—not only aboard ship but on shore. He is the moral and religious “pace setter”; and when he, by “slowing up” through conformity to the ways of the world, forgets this fact, his influence as a moral and religious teacher ceases.

There are clergymen who play cards, but it is a question as to whether this practice has ever added anything commendable to the reputation of a single one. There are others who consider it not unbecoming to take an occasional drink of wine or other intoxicant, not habitually, but on occasions of ceremony. The practice is bad, and un¬doubtedly has resulted in destroying the influence for good of many men who otherwise were above reproach. One whose breath is tainted 




with that “which steals away the brain” is in no shape to preach temperance to another who, by reason of indulgence is on the downward way. One of the chief duties of a Chaplain is to uphold by precept and example the efforts of wise men to make and keep the Navy sober. Only those of us who have been in the Service under the old and the new regime are in a position to pass judgment on the wisdom of that law which forbids the use of introduction of intoxicants on board ship. Every officer who has the welfare of the Service at heart should thank God for the day when “booze was piped over the side” and pray that it may never return.

The temptation to indulge in the recital of questionable stories is peculiar to companies of men who live apart from what Dr. Johnson calls the “elegant and elevating influence of female friendship.” Such stories may be good to raise a laugh, but they are not good for those who hear them, nor for the one who tells them. For a Chaplain so far to forget himself as to relate a vile or a lewd story is unpardonable, and while men may laugh, deep down in their hearts there is a sense of disgust.

How to conduct oneself in the midst of unaccustomed surround¬ings and conditions, that to a clergyman may be embarrassing, is a great big problem. The sense of adaptability in some men is such that from the very beginning they have no difficulty; but for most young chaplains the ordeal is extremely trying, and unless one carefully guards himself will result in driving him either into seclusion or indulgence in that which is not becoming. To avoid these extremes, one should remember that the day of the cloister and convent for men is past, that while a Christian is ordered not to be “of the world,” never-theless, in order to do a man’s work, he must be in it. It is, therefore, his business to face difficult situations like a man, and to adapt himself to them in such a way that while not compromising his principles he may still not give offense. A ship is like a little city, and just as no citizen can regulate and order the life of another in that city, just so can no individual on board ship arbitrarily form and fashion the conduct of another. If your next-dor [sic] neighbor gives a party to which you are not invited, and it does not meet with your approbation, being a gentleman you have no right, nor can you afford to refer to the slight or express your disapproval. The ship is the home not of one but of all, and all have equal rights, and so long as men do not think alike, so long will they not act alike. Accordingly, instead of dictating the 





policy of others, “act well your part,” remembering that “there all the honor lies.”


Under this head it seems wise to say, that you may be prepared for the shock, that according to Regulations, the Chaplain has few prescribed duties. The Blue Book says, “He shall hold church when the weather and other circumstances permit.” Not infrequently a six knot breeze, unless the Chaplain insists that it is a “glorious day,” is magnified into a howling gale; and adverse circumstances on one side of the ship, in the way of clothing inspection or something else, is as infectious as measles in detention camp, and liable to spread from bowsprit to flagstaff. In other words, a Chaplain must not only be willing but anxious to hold church, regardless of circumstances, and must tactfully overcome the suggestion that it be omitted.

On arriving aboard ship, consult the Executive Officer as to the best place to hold church; and, having determined on such place, decide in your own mind just how church should be rigged to make it most attractive and convenient.

When Sunday morning comes, ask permission to have church. The officer of the deck will give orders that church be rigged, but it is best for the Chaplain to be on hand to see that the working party rig it attractively, and that all things are made ship-shape for the occasion. As to the form of service, the Regulations leave this to the discretion of the Chaplain. It is well however, not to have the service too formal. Men like to sing, and as soon as the Chaplain becomes familiar with the crew, he will find men here and there who are only too glad to be of assistance to him in arranging an attractive musical program. The way to find out who these men are is to spend a good deal of time forward between working hours, when the men sit about the deck, passing the time away. Here and there you will discover a group or an individual, singing the songs of the sea or the hymns of their boyhood days. If approached tactfully, many of these men will be glad to assist at the Sunday service, even to the extent of singing a solo or taking part in a quartette. Most ships carry bands. The Chaplain should ask the Execu¬tive Officer if he may use the band at church. On securing permission,  





he should consult with the bandmaster and arrange with him the music for the following Sunday. He should always be present when the band rehearses the songs, otherwise they will make a “mess of it.”

It is difficult to tell another how he should preach, but some advice along this line may not be out of place. The average man does not care a great deal about the ancestry of Isaac and Jacob, or the history of the lost tribes of Israel. What he wants is something that will help him bear cheerfully and bravely the difficulties that confront him now; something that will help him live rightly, do his duty, and die like a man.

There are certain subjects which should be presented to each congregation at least once a year; the importance of reading the Bible, the meaning of prayer, the punishment of sins, the forgiveness of sins, the sovereignty of God, the love of God, the grounds for our belief in a life after death, obedience to law, patriotism, reverence for things sacred, manly Christianity, and the like. These subjects cover the fundamentals of Christianity and are of vital importance to every Christian life. Aside from these, the Chaplain in his preaching should be intensely evangelical, practical, and non-sectarian. He must constantly bear in mind that he is not there as a Methodist, Presbyterian, or Catholic clergyman, but is a Chaplain to men of all faiths. A sermon should never be over twenty-five minutes long, and the entire service should not consume more than an hour. It should never be allowed to drag or resolve itself into a matter of form. Lifevirile, strong and helpful—should breathe in every song, in every prayer, in the reading of the Word, and above all in the message which the Chaplain brings. If possible there should be two services on Sunday, morning and evening; and contrary to the expectations of those who have not tried it, the evening service will be the better attended of the two and the more impressive.

It will be well just here to sound a word of warning about the possibility of allowing the Sunday service to drift into a function of secondary importance. The Chaplain who does not know how to emphasize Divine Worship has no business on board ship. No matter what proficiency he may display in the social activities of the crew, if he omits or neglects or fails to make attractive and appealing the 11





worship of Almighty God, he has failed as a Chaplain. He must guard himself carefully, therefore, against this very thing; for he will find that the tendency is to enthuse over the thing that other people enthuse over, and to neglect the matter which they treat with indifference. This is not saying that the officers and men will treat Divine Service with indifference, but most certainly they will if he does, and probably they will until they find out that he does not.

On every ship there are men who expect and are entitled to an opportunity to partake of the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. The time, place, and manner are left to the discretion of the individual Chaplain. The usual custom on shore of having the Sacrament administered immediately after the morning service will be found inconvenient and impracticable. A better custom is to secure a compartment in a quiet part of the ship and announce at the morning service that at a certain hour the Sacrament will be administered in that place. Invite all of whatever denomination to participate.

If a Chaplain’s ministry is as fruitful as it should be, men will frequently express a desire to unite with some branch of the Christian church. The Chaplain should not only encourage such men and give them the opportunity, but should instruct them in the preliminary steps towards church membership. On learning that a man desires to unite with the church, the Chaplain should communicate with the pastor of a church of that denomination, and at the time appointed by the pastor should accompany the young man to the church and lend such moral and spiritual support as the occasion demands. After his admission into the church, it is desirable that a church letter be secured and transferred to the man’s hometown.



This is seldom if ever a pleasant part of the Chaplain’s duty. Nevertheless, it is one of great importance and will require great tact and good judgment if it is not to be made a mere matter of form. Sick people as a rule are oversensitive and prisoners are usually grouchy and unapproachable. The tendency on the part of both is to feel that “nobody cares.” It is the business of the Chaplain to convince them  




that somebody “does care,” and to do this he must be able to convey the fact without putting it into words.

The Sick Bay is under the immediate control of the Senior Sur­geon. As a matter of courtesy, before visiting the patients, the Chaplain should approach him on the subject, and follow, so far as is possible, his suggestions as to the Chaplain’s relationship to the patients. One not accustomed to visiting the sick, the unfortunate, or the imprisoned is frequently inclined to carry with him an air of gloom which he per­suades himself is a manifestation of sympathy. Nobody else construes it in that light. There is no place, unless the patient be very ill, where a good joke is more highly appreciated. The sunshine of a cheerful face and the music of a genuine laugh go far toward dispelling the gloom of surroundings that are oppressive. Get in touch with the man who is sick or in the Brig by showing a genuine interest—without intrud­ing—in his home affairs, the State from which he comes, his town; and if you happen to know anybody he knows, there will at once be a bond of mutual interest. Also provide reading matter, either from the library or some other source, for those who are unable to get in touch with such things. Offer to write letters for them and to read interesting stories or extracts from popular papers. Always see to it that no confi­dence that may be committed to you is betrayed.

In your visits to the Brig, while showing an interest in the inmates, be very careful to allow none of them, in his conversation, to reflect on any officer. Take “with a grain of salt” the hard luck stories and ac­cusations with which they may regale you. Experience will teach you that in most instances men in the Brig are guilty to a greater or less degree of that with which they are charged. At the same time, when the course of wisdom permits, it is your right to do all you can to establish the innocence of the accused. In endeavoring to do this, remember that the words of the accused and the hearsay of somebody else do not con­stitute a proof of innocence, and officers in authority have no time to listen to what “somebody else has heard somebody else say.” In other words, if it ever becomes necessary for you to appeal to authority for a man under charges, see to it that the proof which you bring really justifies you in making your appeal.

The Chaplain should visit the Brig and Sick Bay at least once a day, and oftener if he finds his visits are helpful. To fail to do this will defeat the very object of occasional visits. Very little escapes the  




notice of the man who has nothing to do but lie on his back and think; and if the Chaplain appears only occasionally, the first thought that comes to the patient is that surely he, the patient, must be in “bad shape” else the Chaplain would not have found it necessary to come around. The effect of such thought on a patient, of course, is not good; to avoid making such impression, the Chaplain’s visits should be so frequent as to arouse no such suspicion.

When a man is desperately ill, the Chaplain should know it; and with the consent of the Senior Surgeon, should inform the patient of the fact. When a man’s life is drawing to a close, opportunity should be given for such preparation, whether of spiritual or material nature, as he deems necessary. There is no greater anguish of mind than that which comes to a servant of God when he realizes that he has allowed a man to die without giving him notice of his approaching end. If the Chaplain is a Catholic and the patient a Protestant or a Jew, the Chaplain should see to it that he is attended by one of his own faith. When this order is reversed a Protestant Chaplain, when it can be pos­sible done, should secure a rabbi or priest to minister the last rites of the church. The latter is especially important because of the emphasis which the Catholic Church places upon this Sacrament. Frequently there are convalescents on the sick list who are unable to climb the gangway to church, and an offer of the Chaplain—after consulting with the Doctor—to have someone carry them up in an easy chair will often be accepted and appreciated.


The third prescribed duty of the Chaplain relates to “the help which he may give to such as need to be instructed in the elementary branches.” To have school on board ship is a difficult and discouraging undertaking, but it can be done. Whether or not it is done will depend in a large measure on the Chaplain. He must be willing to teach men who are not especially anxious to learn, and to do this at odd hours and in places that are odder still. The attempt to hold school on board ship at atated [sic] hours has been abandoned on account of the pres­sure of other matters. There are, however, in every crew numbers of ambitious young men who are willing to work overtime, and between times, and anywhere, that they may prepare themselves for larger re­sponsibilities. 




The very wise and long deserved Ac of Congress which permits one hundred enlisted men per year to take the examination for An­napolis has stimulated the ambitions of young men throughout the Service. Many of these have had but ordinary school advantages, and, if they are to pass the entrance examination, must be helped with their work. That this may be done effectively, the Chaplain should address a letter through official channels to the Bureau of Navigation, requesting that pamphlets containing sample examination questions be supplied. Such pamphlets, comprising all the examinations since 1907, may be had for the asking. Any young man who can answer all the questions in this pamphlet, and who understands the principles involved, need have no fear as to passing the examination. It is the Chaplain’s duty to find out who these men are, and to offer his services as an instructor at any time the applicant may find it convenient to pursue the studies. A good suggestion is to post on a bulletin board a notice to this effect, and to emphasize on Sunday at church, or at other gatherings, the fact that help along educational lines is available to all who see fit to take advantage of it. Having once enrolled a man in your school, see to it that you yourself are a workman “that needeth not to be ashamed,” and enter into the spirit of the enterprise with such energy as will inspire the student to do his best. Many men now in the service, occupying positions of trust and honor, give credit to the Chaplain for their equip­ment and qualification for these positions.

These three prescribed duties will consume but little of an ener­getic, hustling Chaplain’s time, and are really but an introduction to a field of vast opportunity and privilege, a field that will so constantly require his time that, if he studies at all—and he must if he would suc­ceed—he will have to do it when other people sleep.

A successful ministry in these three fields of labor will depend in a large measure on the faithful performance of unprescribed duties, which at first glance see to have little or no connection with them, but are really, as time and experience will show, the underlying cause of any success that may come to the Chaplain. The reference here is to that vast number of so-called little things, which in themselves appear to have no distinctively religious character, but which nevertheless are means to an end; and they must be used if the end is to be attained. The most important of these will be referred to under distinct needs. 





The monotony of ship-board life can never be known except by men who go to sea. The long hours of toil at one task, repeated with each passing day; the trackless waste of waters unbroken by a sail; hearing the same voices and looking into the same faces week after week, with little variety of any kind to break the tedium of the drag­ging months, make the coming of one who is able to introduce new forms of amusement and entertainment or variety of employment a godsend to any ship. This is distinctly a Chaplain’s work, although the regulations do not so state it. He happens to be the one officer aboard who is expected to do things that other officers would not do; and, if he is capable and willing and possesses the initiative, the authorities will be only too glad to have him take charge of this recreational fea­ture of the ship’s life.

Every ship has, or should have, a moving picture outfit, and, if it should be the Chaplain’s lot to take charge of this and other forms of entertainment, he must see to it that programs, instructive and enter­taining, are arranged and carried out to the best advantage. On board ship there is always talent for entertainments of varied character. A minstrel or variety show, boxing bouts, wrestling matches, boat races, athletic activities on shore, and games such as checkers, chess, domi­noes and the like should be encouraged and actually inaugurated and supervised by the Chaplain, if the Executive Officer sees fit to commit this important work into his hands. He must be careful, however, not to assume control of these activities until he has first talked the matter over with the Executive Officer and been officially designated as the officer in charge of this work. A minstrel show on Saturday night and interest in baseball games throughout the week, combined with asso­ciations that go with such activities and the genuine interest which the Chaplain may display in such matters, will guarantee a larger crowd at church on Sunday morning and a more responsive hearing than other­wise he could possibly have.

Much to the delight of the men in the Service, the civilian popu­lation has been aroused to a deeper interest in the welfare of the men who wear the uniform of our country. In every seaport churches and societies, as well as individuals, are vying with one another to provide wholesome amusements and instructions for our sailors. The Chaplain is the logical officer through whom arrangements will be made under  




the Executive Officer for attendance on these functions. He should see to it that, so far as lies in his power, the men desiring to attend such entertainments have his help in securing permission. A good plan is for the Chaplain to get into communication with organizations pro­viding such entertainments and, when invitations are issued, to take up the matter with the Executive Officer and volunteer his services to accompany the men ashore, and assume responsibility for their safe return at the designated time. This plan should also be followed out in the management of church parties through the week and on Sunday evening. It is good for the men to attend church on shore. I know of nothing that so enlightens the civilian population as to the character of the men now in the service as to see a goodly number of them march to church in charge of the Chaplain.

A cruising ship is frequently a visitor to the interesting ports of the world. The information of the average man concerning such ports, generally speaking, is gathered from conversation with shipmates whose knowledge of history is often unreliable. Here is a field for useful instruction. On leaving port the Chaplain should familiarize himself with the interesting features of the one to which the ship is bound, and such information should be embodied in a lecture and de­livered to the crew before or shortly after reaching port. It is not a difficult matter to take these lectures very interesting, especially if the port be in a foreign country. The customs and habits of the people, their agricultural and commercial interests, their religion their form of government, and their history fall naturally into place as one attempts to outline a lecture of this character. If the city visited happens to be an especially interesting one, whether historically or otherwise, the Chaplain should get up parties and arrange for excursions to places of special note—even to the extent, when the distance requires, of securing leave for a week or more for the men who are anxious to accompany him. It will be well to arrange for hotel accommodations and prices before hand, as frequently such an arrangement will result in better accommodations at a greatly reduced price. To illustrate the importance of this kind of work, I have the word of the Commanding Officer of a big ship to the effect that if it had not been just such “little journeys” arranged by the Chaplain while his vessel was at anchor for a long period of time in a very monotonous harbor, there could have been much unhappiness among the crew. When such and enterprise is undertaken, the Chaplain should so select his men that every member of the party is one who can be trusted to obey the laws of the country 





in which they travel and willing to abide by any decision that he, the officer in charge, may make.


Since the writing of this Manual was begun, the Chaplain has been officially designated custodian of the crew’s library. This posi­tion greatly enlarges his field of usefulness, as he will now be able to follow the tastes of the many who apply for books and to direct them as to the character of the books best suited to their needs. He should first familiarize himself with the volumes in the library so as to be able to give intelligent advice to such as may desire it. The ship’s library should be open for one hour every day. This hour should be at a time when the men are not otherwise employed. A conspicuous no­tice should be printed on the library door stating the hour when books may be drawn and returned. It will be well also to have word passed through the ship each day at the hour of opening so that men having books to be returned may be reminded of this duty. When a schedule is made out stating when the library is to be open allow nothing to inter­fere with that schedule, for men looking for a certain thing at a certain time do not like to be disappointed. All books are on charge, so that when one is lost the Chaplain must be able to show who is responsible for the loss.

When a ship is put in commission, libraries are placed on board as part of the ship’s equipment. From this time on, any revision in the library comes as the result of a survey of old books and requisition for new. Now that the libraries are officially in the Chaplain’s keeping, it is “up to” him to show that the change has been a wise one. He can do this only by seeing that the library is kept up to date and is daily avail­able. He must not lose sight of the fact that he is absolutely responsible for the safekeeping of this Government property. Any neglect on his part so to do may result in court martial. Very few of our ships are equipped with space for a reading room. Secretary Daniels is responsi­ble for the wise provision which on our larger ships designates a com­partment for this very commendable use. On such ships the problem is already solved; on others the matter of securing a compartment or space, where during stated hours reading matter, lights, and seats are available to the men, will depend in a large measure on the Chaplain. Unless he happens to be a man who realizes the importance of such a 





place and is not easily discouraged, his defeat in this particular is sure. Unfortunately most ships are crowded for space, and it is quite diffi­cult so to emphasize a matter that caters only to mental recreation and enlightenment as to secure the space that is being used for something else. Perseverance may turn the trick, therefore keep at it. If you once succeed in securing such a compartment, its popularity and necessity will be so apparent that no thoughtful official will for a moment think of depriving you of it. The reading room should be well stocked with all the leading monthly and weekly magazines and periodicals, and should comprise at least five daily papers published in different sec­tions of the United States, so as to give every member of the crew an opportunity to keep in touch with his home news. Two hundred and fifty dollars is a sufficient fund to equip the reading room splendidly for one year. All periodicals should be subscribed for by the year and addressed to the Chaplain’s office.

Files for all papers other than the monthly magazines should be made by the ship’s carpenter and so constructed as to hold the pa­pers securely in place. A good design is two pieces of hard wood with bolts and nuts, the nuts, after the paper is inserted, being screwed up with a monkey wrench so as to make their removal a matter of incon­venience. Otherwise papers will disappear. The reading room should be open at hours designated by the Executive Officer. Except at such hours, papers should be carefully and securely put away.

The profit of the ship’s store should furnish the needed funds for the reading room. If such is not available, it is possible, with the con­sent of the Commanding Officer, to raise a fund by private subscrip­tion among the men.

In connection with the reading room, it would be well to run a daily bulletin board to be known as “the Chaplain’s Bulletin.” Such board should be for his exclusive use, and on it he may post notices of such matters that he desires to bring to the attention of the crew. Also in his reading he will frequently notice things that may be of interest to the crew and to which they have not access. Such articles may very profitably be clipped from the paper and posted where the men can see them. This plan, if carried out systematically and with good judgment, soon becomes very popular and the men learn to look for the daily changes.




In the management of the reading room, some difficulty may be encountered from people who request permission to carry the papers and books to other parts of the ship. While it may not be wise to lay down an iron-bound rule on this subject, most assuredly a great deal of confusion and dissatisfaction will be avoided if the officer in charge refuses such requests. A reading room of this kind is the property of the enlisted men, established and maintained for their benefit, and like most men they are jealous of anything that belongs to them. A wise Chaplain will not lose sight of this fact.


There is an old saying that the “best way to get along in the world is to attend strictly to our own business.” For most men and most busi­nesses this is a wise proverb. The Chaplain, however, who lives up to it especially when he lets somebody else tell him what his business is—might as well “shut up ship” an go home. The Navy Regulations very wisely do not specify the duties of a Chaplain. The reason for this is that his work is of such a nature that to “build a fence” around it would of necessity so handicap him that the most important of his duties could not be performed. It is my contention that a Chaplain’s duties consist of “anything and everything” that he may do in a wise and tact­ful way for the social, physical, intellectual, moral, and spiritual wel­fare of the ship’s company. So long as the duties of other officers either directly or indirectly touch in some way all of these, the Chaplain who endeavors to contribute his effort to the development of these several fields will of necessity encroach on the “preserve” of another. Here is where his good judgment and tact are indispensable. If he has them, most surely a field of great usefulness will be opened up. If he has not these two qualities, no matter how great his desire to help may be, his efforts will be of no avail. Constantly questions are coming up in the minds of men which relate to their pay accounts, their shore liberty, their hope of promotion, and a thousand other things of similar nature, which they for some unaccountable reason are timid about bringing to the attention of officers under whom these questions naturally come. For weeks or months it may be, these men nurse the conviction that they have been badly treated, falsely dealt with, or unjustly accused. The result of such meditation is a spirit of discontent and grouchiness, 




which in time not only unfits them for the proper performance of duty, but may foment and encourage throughout the crew an atmosphere of distrust that ends in “unhappy ship.” The place where all such matters should be settled is at the Mast, or with the Division Officer, but for some cause—whether reasonable or otherwise no one can say—many men hesitate about attending to such matters in the official way. If the Chaplain has their confidence they will come to him and solicit aid in securing information or adjusting difficulties. Strictly speaking, such matters are not the Chaplain’s business; and then again, they are his business. He must be the judge as to whether he can wisely take up these matters with the proper authorities. If he is the right man in the right place, and has by his life and labors convinced the officers that his motive is unselfish and his object only to “help the other man,” he will find the heartiest co-operation, and even appreciation, for bringing to their attention matters about which they might never have known but for the confidence of the man in the Chaplain’s willingness to help him. An instance is recalled where a Chaplain at a Training Station was so constantly besieged by men desiring information and help that finally, in order to be officially equipped for this very important work, he went to the Commanding Officer, laid the necessity of the case before him, and requested that he be appointed the “Official Bureau of Information.” Without hesitancy the Commanding Officer seized upon the idea as a good one, and immediately clothed him with this authority. The result was that the Chaplain’s office became a clearing house for from 5,000 to 10,000 men, many of whose troubles, wheth­er imaginary or otherwise, were explained away by the tactful, wise manner in which they were handled. The officers directly concerned with the questions propounded from the very beginning appreciated the fact that in this way matters were brought to their attention of which otherwise they would not have known. There was no conflict, no clash of authority, no disposition to construe the Chaplain’s efforts as a case of “butting in,” but a mutual understanding and willingness to cooperate in ministering to the welfare of the crew, thereby making the ship a “home.” The Officer to whom this particular Chaplain had to appeal most often remarked when he was detached, “I can’t imagine an officer more essential to the success of this station than the right kind of Chaplain.”

There is one phase of a very difficult but very important subject that can and should be presented by the Chaplain in a series of lec­tures, delivered once a month. The reference is to social hygiene. The 




Navy today is made up largely of boys and young men fresh from rural districts and small towns. They have not been exposed to the pitfalls of seaport cities and consequently are unaware of the dangers, phys­ical and moral, that attend association with lewd women. While the Surgeon is the logical person to speak on this theme from a medical standpoint, the Chaplain will find that a wise presentation of its moral, social, and professional aspects will carry just as much weight as does the fear of physical contamination. There can be no wise presentation of the subject without careful study. It would therefore be well for the Chaplain who contemplates this work to write to the Commission on Training Camp Activities, Washington, D.C., for authoritative litera­ture. Moving picture films illustrating the ravages of venereal disease are obtainable from the same source and have been very effectively used as a deterrent from such dissipation. The more horrible he paints the picture the more impressive will be the lesson. A Commanding Of­ficer, after listening to a Chaplain’s lecture on this subject, remarked, “That’s the way to give it to them. Scare them to death. Some of them may faint, but we’ll carry them out. It’s better for them to faint now than later on.”

When a ship is in port, especially in foreign countries, a man will occasionally become so taken up by the sights and surrounding of shore that he forgets to come back. Usually some of his shipmates know where he may be found, but there is a certain stigma attached to being forcibly brought aboard ship by an official sent ashore for that purpose which keeps men from informing on their shipmate. If they have confidence in the Chaplain, frequently these friends of the miss­ing one will come to him and divulge the occasion of the delinquent’s absence and the place where he may be found. There are Chaplains who do not consider such matters a part of their duty, as going after the “lost sheep” exposes them to contact with evil surroundings and not infrequently to violence at the hands of the parties responsible for the detention of the man. This must be left to a man’s own judgment, but undoubtedly good men have been saved to the service by chaplains who were not afraid to risk their own reputation and personal safety by—in an unofficial way—locating the an and persuading him to re­turn. It is suggested that when such work is undertaken the Chaplain request some enlisted man in whose integrity he reposes confidence to accompany him. This is not primarily to protect him from physical vi­olence—for a Chaplain should be afraid of nothing—but to safeguard his reputation. That he may be helpful along this line, the Chaplain 22




should familiarize himself with the list of absentees as posted each day, and by conversation with the men and in other ways learn the occasion of the absence and if possible the whereabouts of the missing men.

Many times a man will come to the Chaplain and ask for things that he cannot grant and explanations that he cannot make; but the very act of coming relieves the mind of the man and, if the Chaplain is wise, while not being able to give him that for which he asks, he can give him “something just as good,” and the man will depart as well satisfied as though he had gotten that for which he asked. After all, most of our troubles can be explained away if we can only find some­body who will listen patiently and sympathetically. The Chaplain must remember that there are not many people on board ship to whom one faces difficulties cares to confide. There is perhaps no place where the old saw, “Tell your troubles to the policeman, I have troubles of my own,” is more frequently heard. A student of human nature, as he walks about the deck, will see many a face that is unable to hide the anxiety of the heart, and if such student is himself a brother to all mankind he may, even when the suffering one does not appeal for aid, find a way to help him bear his burden. In some instances he will be repulsed, but even then if he accepts the rebuff gracefully, an impression may be made that may later make an opening where he can help. There are few hearts that do not respond to a manifestation of brotherly interest, and even the hardest, though it may give no outward sign, cannot for­get the unselfish interest that another may take in it. Undoubtedly, here is a wonderful field and to leave it uncultivated is to fail as a Chaplain. The personal touch between Chaplain and man is the pivotal point on which revolves the entire machinery of his usefulness. This fact is recognized by superior officers; and not infrequently in Quarterly Effi­ciency Reports from the Commanding Officer, footnotes are appended expressing appreciation and approval of the fact that the Chaplain is in close touch with the crew. Not long since, a letter was written by the Commanding Officer of a big ship with reference to a Chaplain who had just been detached, in which he insisted that the Chaplain in question should be returned to his command, because, as he said, “He is my right-hand man—one of the most useful officers on board, and through him I am able to keep in touch with the needs of my crew.” On investigation it was found that this Chaplain knew most of his crew by name, was familiar with the peculiarities and disposition of each, was always ready to do anything within his power to minister to their comfort, and as a result of this constant and profound interest on his part the crew would do anything for him that he asked. It is impossible to measure the usefulness of such a man.


Published: Mon Sep 17 11:47:02 EDT 2018