Crystal Springs pastor takes oath as Army National Guard chaplain


The Rev. John Branning, pastor at Crystal Springs United Methodist Church, is now a chaplain in the U.S. Army. He will serve a National Guard unit in Jackson.

“My journey into the Army National Guard chaplaincy began when I was approached by members of the Guard and asked to consider the chaplaincy,” Branning said. “These individuals were fellow United Methodists who informed me that the need for chaplains in the Guard was at a critical level. I began to investigate and found out that the shortage for military chaplains was the greatest in our nation’s history. The Mississippi Army National Guard had only half of their slots filled when I was approached.”

Branning said he began noticing men and women in his community dressed in military uniforms and realized most were young. He then considered his own sons and wondered who would remind them of the grace and love of Jesus Christ if they joined the military.

“Who would pray with them and for them or offer words of forgiveness and hope or just listen to their fears and concerns when they would need it most?” he said. “It was for these reasons that I felt compelled to offer myself to this mission.”

Crystal Springs UMC fully endorsed Branning’s decision.