COLUMBIA, S.C. (courtesy ciu.edu) — As Columbia International University Chaplaincy Professor Dr. Mike Langston sat in the back of the meeting room, he thought it was rather strange that no one gave him an itinerary of events for the annual meeting of the Military Chaplains Association (MCA) — especially since he was the host!
“I was sitting in the back of the room, and then they asked me to come forward and gave me an award,” Langston recalled with a laugh in a phone interview.
The G. William Dando Volunteer Service Award was presented to Langston at the national meeting held this year on the CIU campus. The honor goes to a military chaplain who demonstrates exemplary volunteer service.
“I was stunned, but I am greatly honored by the significance of the award,” said Langston who has been a member of MCA since 1988. “I do chaplaincy because it’s my ministry calling — it has been my life. (The award) shocked me to be honest with you.”
Langston, a former United States Navy chaplain was recognized by the MCA for his volunteer training of South Carolina State Guard chaplains, and his leadership as the Guard’s deputy commander, holding the rank of brigadier general. He is also a volunteer chaplain for the Richland County Sheriff’s Department, riding with deputies who patrol the area near the CIU campus.
One of the main roles of the South Carolina State Guard is disaster relief where the chaplain not only minsters to the victims of the disaster, but also must recognize responding guard members are being affected.
“Many times our men and women are traumatized by what they see, what they hear or what they smell and the toll on the human condition,” Langston said. “We work with them to help them process the pain and move them to a place of health.”
He adds that in traumatic situations, when people notice the cross lapel pin of the chaplain, the atmosphere changes because “chaplains are the bearers of the presence of God.”
“The chaplain walks in and all of the sudden, God is there,” Langston said. “The chaplain shows up and it’s like peace comes across the situation. Things change when the chaplain shows up. God is here. God cares. God will make a difference.”