Veterans’ Day Reflection

Veterans Day serves as a reminder to honor those who answered the call to duty.  Service members serve to protect our way of life and the Constitution of the United States of America. On this day we celebrate America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice.  And on this day we recognize two Crown alumni who have honorably served their country through times of destruction and chaos with multiple conflicts, political upheavals, and a pandemic.  And through all this they stay focused on Christ and his calling.

Crown alumni Major Keith Beckwith (2002) and Lieutenant Colonel Brian Daum (1999) serve as Christian and Missionary Alliance Chaplains in the Air Force and Army respectively.  Their roles are extensive and impactful for those they serve with.  Military chaplains care for the spiritual, moral, and emotional wellbeing of their troops.  They provide spiritual counseling and emotional guidance to service members and their families.  Chaplains advise their leaders on religious, spiritual, moral, ethical, and quality-of-life issues.  They support religious rights and provide religious programming.  And they’re on call for crisis response and death notifications.

Both Brian and Keith felt God’s call to the military Chaplaincy, but each followed a different path to get there.

Keith Beckwith joined the Active Duty Army right out of high school and spent years as an enlisted Soldier, became a youth pastor after switching to the National Guard, and then startedhis education at Crown.  

Keith serves as the full-time Operations Chaplain for the State of Minnesota in addition to being the Wing Chaplain for the Air Force 133rd Airlift Wing.  He’s responsible for communicating andputting together training for Religious Support Teams who support 13,000 MinnesotaGuardsman. He reports directly to the State Chaplains and is a Liaison to State Leaders at Joint Force Headquarters.  He gives guidance on impacts to mission and spiritual readiness.  He supports religious accommodations and freedoms and then advises wing leadership on issues affecting those areas.  On drill weekends he conducts services.  And ultimately, he cares for Soldiers and Airmen.  

For many years Keith served as an Air Force Chaplain in addition to his full-time pastorate.  He felt split between the roles and so after talking with his mentors, district, and church he resigned from full-time ministry. A few months later he was offered his full-time position with the Guard.

Looking back over his time at Crown he remembers many positive experiences and people.  He had great professors, friends, and mentors.  His Narrative Preaching class was phenomenal in that it is exactly how he “preaches” at drill when he gives the Word of the Day.  Learning how to weave the story and “exegete your audience before you exegete the text” has been very beneficial.

Brian Daum came to Crown following high school, after being rejected by an Army recruiter due to a knee injury.  He finished his undergraduate ministry degree and then spent six years as a youth pastor.  During his full-time ministry, he grew in responsibility, actively participated in students’ lives, and developed a passion for Christ. He sensed God’s call to be available, knowing God fashioned him to use for his glory.   He eventually pursued graduate school and he and his wife pursued missionary candidate status.  After a series of changes and struggles, a gift from his wife caused him to switch gears and research military chaplaincy.  He had never felt a call to a specific people group, but now the military presented a different culture and people group than he had previously considered.  Through lots of questioning, struggling with his calling, and daily surrendering himself, he eventually pursued Chaplain Candidacy status.  And God opened doors when the Army waived his previous knee injury and he was able to switch to a distance learning graduate school.  He had a great learning experience in the Army Reserve as a Chaplain Candidate and then had great training and mentoring with Colonel (retired) Kevin Pies.  

After completing Chaplain School, Brian accepted a full time position in the Montana National Guard.  This was not a position he expected or sought out, and he feels blessed to be in this role. He currently serves as the Montana National Guard State Chaplain.  Even though his days are often filled with meetings, reports, and emails, he still is able to preach God’s Word and care for Soldiers.

Brian is thankful for the people he encountered at Crown.  People like Dave Golias made themselves available for mentoring.  Professors like Dr. Ron Griffiths and Dr. Gary Wozniak taught youth classes preparing him for ministry and teaching him the gospel saturates life.  The community and chapels challenged him; his classmates and others prayed with and for him. He left Crown without a ring by spring (and didn’t get his money back), but he found the right partner later. His prayers were answered with a wife who also wanted to serve God however led. 

We thank these alumni for their service to God and country.  And we also thank their family who support and enable them to be effective and engaged Chaplains and continue to spread God’s good news to so many who need hope.