The United States Navy Chaplain Corps traces its beginnings to Nov. 28, 1775, when the Continental Congress implemented Article II of U.S. Navy regulations, which required that religious services be offered aboard ships.

U.S. Navy chaplains based in eastern North Carolina celebrated the 244th U.S. Navy Chaplain Corps anniversary at Marston Pavilion on Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, Dec. 3.

“The purpose of the celebration is to instill the customs and courtesies with the honors and traditions of our naval chaplaincy to our next generation,” said Navy Capt. J. P. Hedges, a chaplain with Marine Corps Installations East - MCB Camp Lejeune. “To celebrate 244 years of continuing ministry and service to the men and women of the sea services of our nation.”

The Chaplain Corps consists of commissioned naval officers who are the military’s religious leaders. They are responsible for tending to the spiritual and moral well-being of service members and their families. Navy chaplains serve the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.

“We are not here to make you bible believers,” said Cmdr. Richard Wiese, deputy command chaplain with MCIEAST - MCB Camp Lejeune. “We are here to help you maneuver through difficulties you may have in your life.”

According to Hedges, the mission of the Chaplain Corps is to provide religious ministry and support to those of their own faith, facilitate for all religious beliefs, care for all Marines, Sailors, Coast Guardsmen and their family and friends and advise commanders to ensure the free exercise of religion.

“We are a combat organization, and we owe it to the men and women from our United States of America to be true to the calling God has given us,” Wiese said. “That is what is important, the people we have been called to serve, the reason why we are here.”

For more information on religious services, contact Corey Lagana, executive secretary for the MCIEAST - MCB Camp Lejeune Chaplain’s office, at (910) 451-8691, or visit the MCB Camp Lejeune Chaplain Corps offices at 67 Virginia Dare Dr. The hours of operation are 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.