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UM alum named National Chaplain of Year, prays at Congresscomment (0)

March 11, 2010

University of Mobile (UM) alumnus Endel Lee has led prayer from the back of a combat vehicle with U.S. Marines gathered around, always aware of the threat of enemy attack.

On Feb. 9, the newly named National Chaplain of the Year delivered a prayer to open the day’s session of Congress in the Capitol building in Washington. He had one goal: to represent the glory of God and try to connect people to that.

“I don’t consider myself a hero. I’m just a hero helper trying to provide spiritual care in trying and sometimes traumatic circumstances,” Lee said.

The opportunity to serve as chaplain of the day for the U.S. House of Representatives is part of the recognition Lee received when the Reserve Officers Association of the United States named him the Chaplain Vincent Robert Capodanno National Chaplain of the Year for 2009 during its annual conference Feb. 8.

The award is a recognition of Lee’s service to his country and to God.

Lee enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve in 1982, accepting a direct commission after graduating from UM in 1985 with a bachelor of arts in theology. He married fellow UM graduate Kathy Perkins, whom he met in music class. Today they have two sons, Hunter, 19, a current UM student, and Cody, 17. After obtaining a master of divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, Lee transferred to the Navy Reserve as a chaplain in 1993.

“Chaplain Lee has seen significant periods of active duty over the past nine years,” according to a press release from the Reserve Officers Association. Such duty began with Operation Guarding Liberty and service with the U.S. Coast Guard in New York City immediately after Sept. 11, 2001. He then deployed in 2005 for Operation Iraqi Freedom as the Camp Fallujah Protestant coordinator and battalion chaplain, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force. Upon returning from that deployment, he participated in Hurricane Katrina response with the U.S. Coast Guard’s District 8 on the gulf coast.

In 2008 he served with the Naval Special Warfare Development Group and then transitioned to his current assignment, the release stated.

Currently Lee is mobilized and serves in New Orleans as Deputy Force Chaplain with the Marine Forces Reserve and Marine Forces North, commuting home to Mobile on the weekends. He counsels Marines and sailors, provides pastoral care in times of crisis, conducts funerals, and coordinates a variety of spiritual and physical support for families in crisis.

In his civilian career, he serves as the national coordinator with the Disaster Relief Chaplaincy for the North American Mission Board. He facilitates the recruitment, training, mobilization and management of Southern Baptist chaplains serving in disaster — and is a lead responder — during times of personal, community, regional and national crisis.

He also holds a master of religious education and a doctor of philosophy, both from Southwestern Seminary.

“I have a deep passion to care for service members and their families,” Lee said. “I was exposed to the military culture young in life, and you really need to know that military mindset to relate to people and their demands in that setting.”

The recognition is nice, but it’s not why Lee does what he does.

He added, “I’m just a country boy from lower Alabama, just trying to be obedient to God.”   (UM)

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