OCF Council elections for the Class of 2016 are open 1 September through 29 September. Eligible OCF members are encouraged to vote in the election. Members qualified to vote will need their voting ID (your OCF membership number, found on the address label of your September COMMAND magazine) and voting password (your ZIP code). Vote for as many as five candidates. Members who cannot/prefer not to vote online can contact Susan Wallis at the OCF home office for a hard copy ballot: (800) 424-1984 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more about each candidate below (listed in alphabetical order), or click here if you are ready to vote.
LtCol Hezekiah Barge, USMC
Education: Florida A&M, 1991, BS Computer Info Sys; Naval Postgraduate School, 2003, MS Info Sys
Present assignment: Headquarters Marine Corps, The Pentagon.
Ministry involvement: OCF member since 1997, OCF Council, small group leader, West Coast POC; men’s ministry, The Navigators, National Naval Officer Assoc., Montford Point Marine Assoc.
Personal testimony: Growing up under a pastor who highly encouraged youth to participate in every aspect of the church allowed me to grow in the knowledge of Christ at a young age and see my need for Him as my Savior. I asked Jesus to be the Lord of my life at 13 years old.
What is the biggest challenge you see currently facing OCF right now? How OCF will continue to accomplish its mission in a military culture that has significantly changed since the concept of the ministry. Staying practical, relevant, and faithful in the development of Christian officers is a need that continues to exist. The traditional OCF ministry approach must be adaptable to continue assisting officers in successfully exercising biblical leadership in the challenging days ahead.
Nominated by: LtCol Todd Ferry, USMC; MajGen Mel Spiese USMC (Ret.); LtCol Mike West, USMC (Ret.)
LTJG Nathan Barnes, USCG
Education: USCGA, Mechanical Engineering, 2011
Present assignment: SECTOR New York
Ministry involvement: OCF member since 2009, USCGA OCF President, OCF Bible study leader; assisted chaplain (Portsmouth Naval Shipyard prayer breakfast, COC and retirement ceremonies); USCGC TAHOMA lay leader; Seacoast Community Church youth group leader (weekly Bible studies, special events, prayer meetings); street evangelism with the church.
Personal testimony: I trusted the Lord at a young age, but it was not until high school that I realized the radically selfless life that Jesus calls us to. At that time, I began to truly seek the Lord, and since have been blessed with godly mentors who have taught me and encouraged me to follow the Lord with all my heart.
What is the biggest challenge you see currently facing OCF right now? OCF faces social and political pressure to keep military leaders from sharing their faith. Along with this issue is the rising view that diminishes the importance of chaplains in the military. We need godly officers to pray, follow the Lord above all else, and be the best professional officers there are.
Nominated by: CAPT Bob Durfey, USCG (Ret.); Maj Jim Groves, USAF (Ret.); CAPT Gerald Hale, USCG; LT Andy Halvorson, USCG; 3/C Joshua Payne, USCG; CDR Vic Primeaux, USCG (Ret.); CDR Hank Teuton, USCG (Ret.)
Lt Col Amanda Birch, USAFR
Education: USAFA, BS Mech Eng, Eng Science, 1996; MIT, MS Mech Eng, 1998; Air University, MS Mil Oper Art & Science, 2008
Present assignment: Commander (IMA), 4th Civil Eng Squadron, Seymour Johnson AFB, NC
Ministry involvement: OCF member since 1998; OCF team, local Bible study leader, Conference Center Task Force II, Squadron Officer School and OTS Sunday School, Maxwell OCF. Anchor Points, LEAD!, ClimbOn!; Sunday school facilitator, parish council, community soup kitchen board, CGO Bible study and mentoring leader.
Personal testimony: While searching for hope and healing after a hardship at the USAF Academy, a chaplain and a small group Bible study helped me see my spiritual need. I accepted Christ as my savior as a 2Lt.
What is the biggest challenge you see currently facing OCF right now? Our biggest challenge is mentoring, equipping, and encouraging officers—especially junior officers—to be bold but kind in ministering to a military community that is increasingly hostile toward Christ and His followers, even while it is desperately in need of the hope, love, and healing that Christ alone can provide. The associated challenge is ensuring that all OCF members, from cadets to retirees to associate members, see the necessity and value of personally mentoring, equipping, and encouraging others.
Nominated by: CAPT Chris Blake, JAGC, USNR; COL Hunt Kerrigan, ANG; Col Mike Martin, USAF (Ret.); COL Mike Tesdahl, USA (Ret.)
LTC Eric Hathaway, USA
Education: University of Southern Mississippi, BS, 1994
Present assignment: CGSC instructor, Fort Leavenworth, KS
Ministry involvement: OCF member since 2007, Bible study leader, Fort Leavenworth, KS; post coordinator, Fort Sill, OK
Personal testimony: My father was saved as a U.S. Air Force airman and later became a pastor, passing on his faith and patriotism to all his children. I claim the earliest salvation of Christ as seen in Psalm 22:9-10. Throughout my life in two wars and three fronts the Lord has been my rock and shield. I trust in Christ alone.
What is the biggest challenge you see currently facing OCF right now? To continue our partnership with chaplains while boldly standing for Christ and the gospel in a military that becomes ever more anti-Christian. As soldiers and leaders we must learn to exemplify the virtues of Christ through action and deed so as to cause the lost around us to notice. We must not compromise our stance in all attempts to pass on our faith to the next generation of leaders.
Nominated by: COL Rich Goldsmith, USA (Ret.); COL Jack Kem, USA (Ret.); LTC Tom Schmidt, USA (Ret.)
LTC Ric Schumacher, USA
Education: Mercer University, BA Chemistry, 1991; Washington State University, Masters Chemistry, 1991 and PhD Nuclear Chemistry, 2011.
Present assignment: Air War College
Ministry involvement: OCF member since 2001, home Bible study leader, Germany; small group leader and area coordinator, West Point; Emmanuel Baptist Church leadership board; Sunday school teacher, discipling cadets; cadet chapel, AWANA
Personal testimony: I sporadically attended church growing up but never knew the Lord. That changed my senior year of college through the efforts of my grandparents and friends. I am still growing in my knowledge of the Lord and I thank Him for His abundant mercy and grace.
What is the biggest challenge you see currently facing OCF right now? The current generation of leaders is more connected and inundated with information and secular viewpoints than any previous generation. How does OCF equip future leaders so the thorns of the world do not choke what is of eternal importance?
Nominated by: LTC Tom Austin IV, USA (Ret.); CAPT Chris Blake, JAGC, USNR; COL Mike Tesdahl, USA (Ret.)
COL Alicia Smith, USA
Education: North Carolina State University, BS zoology and pre-vet medicine, 1989; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa, MS Biology, 1999; Industrial College of the Armed Forces, MS National Resource Strategy, 2010
Present assignment: Army Nuclear and Counter Proliferation Officer
Ministry involvement: OCF member since 2010, council member of the NCR OCF; Fort McNair OCF, Washington DC; weekly prayer breakfast; board member Glen Eden Youth Center, Inc.; assistant youth minister.
Personal testimony: I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior when I was seven years old and my great-grandfather baptized me that summer. Though I struggled through the teens and college, God placed people in my path to steer me back towards Him and I have been truly blessed.
What is the biggest challenge you see currently facing OCF right now? Meeting the strategic challenge of an active anti-Christian metaculture currently present in not only the general populace but the federal government. For OCF the challenge becomes one of empowering and encouraging its members to provide the resources to make the current vision real. The focus must remain on Christ, not any other distraction.
Nominated by: Col Bill Hudspeth, USAF (Ret.); 1LT Alysa Angel, USA; CH(MAJ) Mark Benz, USA (Ret.)
CH(MAJ) Jay Tobin, USA
Education: Wheaton College, BA English Literature, 1997; University of Oklahoma, MHR Organizational Behavior, 2003; Bethel Seminary, MDIV Pastoral Care/Systematic Theology, 2006; Syracuse University, MBA Defense Comptrollership Program and MPA International Leadership and NonGov’t Orgs, 2013
Present assignment: Chaplain Resource Manager at IMCOM (Installation Management Command), Fort Sam Houston, TX
Ministry involvement: OCF Member since 1997, area coord, Germany; co-leader, Fort Riley, KS, and Fort Lee, VA; led a Spring Canyon Winter Sports Retreat; teaching classes, seminars, and retreats for OCF members; Fort Campbell OCF; worship team co-leader and Sunday School teacher, Syracuse Alliance Church, NY; lead pastor of Chapel Next, Fort Campbell; Benchmark Adventure Ministry Advisory Board.
Personal testimony: I re-dedicated my life to Christ at Marine Corps boot camp. Since then, the Lord has provided countless opportunities to be spiritually stretched. Blessings have flowed through mature mentors and encouraging peers, who’ve joined me in God’s process of growing us up. I never cease to be amazed at His faithful provision and love pointing others His direction.
What is the biggest challenge you see currently facing OCF right now? The secularization of society has dramatically impacted the spiritual operating environment in the military. While it is popular to discuss and explore the “spiritual” du jour, the creeds and catechisms of the confessing Church are mocked and/or Christians are persecuted. OCF must be wise and discerning in its efforts to be faithful. It is a dynamic, socially networked world that we minister in, so communication must be clear and effective or unintended consequences will plague ministry efforts.
Nominated by: CH(MAJ) Joshua Gilliam, USAR; Col Bill Hudspeth, USAF (Ret.); CDR Clay Thomas, USN (Ret.); LTC Colin Wooten, USA
CAPT Jamie Vandiver, USN
Education: USNA, BS Aerospace Engineering, 1985; Naval Postgraduate School, MS Aeronautical Engineering, 1992; Naval War College, MS Strategic Studies, 2005.
Present assignment: Commanding officer, Naval Aviation Schools Command.
Ministry involvement: OCF member since 1981, 12 years OCF Council, Council committee chair; local leader Corpus Christi, TX, Newport, RI, Springfield, VT, Pensacola, FL; Bible study; Grace Community Church elder; met with flight school students.
Personal testimony: In high school I was invited to youth group by a friend. Eventually I started going to church and at an evening service I saw “Thief in the Night.” It was that night that I became a disciple of Jesus. I believed all the Bible stories as a young child, but never knew Christ wanted a personal relationship with me. Understanding this truth and that I didn’t have to fix my sin before I came to Him changed me forever. The year was 1979.
What is the biggest challenge you see currently facing OCF right now? The next generation of military leaders will be called to lead in an environment more hostile to the faith. OCF must be working to train and equip to stand in this changing environment, “Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm” (Ephesians 6:13).
Nominated by: Col Kim Hawthorne, USAF; CDR Steve Hoffman, USN; Lt Col Scott Nowlin, USAF; CAPT Mike Patterson, USN (Ret.)
This article originally appeared in COMMAND magazine, or an OCF Ministry Report.