Space Force Chaplain Fills Historic Role in New Military Branch
By Julie Campbell
Growing up, William “Spence” Spencer enjoyed attending air shows at Little Rock Air Force base with his grandfather, a World War II veteran. But he never dreamed he’d one day be serving in the United States Space Force, a division of the Air Force, as an active-duty military chaplain endorsed by the Church of God.
Chaplains for US Space Force must be Air Force chaplains first. This newest branch of the military organizes, trains, and equips space forces in order to protect the United States and allied interests in outer space.
“It is a competitive process to become an Air Force Chaplain,” explained Spencer. “Compared to the Army and Navy Chaplain Corps, we have the smallest number of chaplains. When I applied to come into the Air Force in 2004, I knew they were only taking a small percentage of total number of applicants. So, I was very humbled and honored to be selected.”
In his role as Deputy Space Force Chaplain, Spencer’s responsibility is to design a structure that ensures there are more-than-adequate Chaplain Corps personnel at the Space Force Headquarters level in Washington, DC; at the Field Command Headquarters in Colorado and California; and at the Space Force Base Chapels across the country and overseas.
“My goal as Deputy Space Force Chaplain is to make sure we have the best Chaplain Corps support possible at every level across the organization,” he said.
The most fulfilling part of Spencer’s current role is that he’s a “chaplain to the chaplains” who are assigned to Space Force.
“We have chapel teams assigned to eight different locations. We provide them functional support and oversight as they minister to the Guardians and Airmen assigned to their location,” he explained. “Sometimes they need our guidance on policies and procedures, or our advocacy for additional resources or manpower. At other times, they just need a listening ear or someone to pray with/for them.”
Spencer’s seminary training as well as his experience as a family man have definitely helped equip him to be the best chaplain he can be. He has been married to his wife, Heidi, for almost twenty-four years. They have three children and one grandchild.
Spencer is passionate about the historic work being accomplished by the newest branch of the military.
“This is a truly exciting and historic time for space, both for the military and private industry,” he said. “In fact, space touches our daily lives each and every day, whether we’re using the internet, swiping our credit card to pump gas, getting money from an ATM, or using GPS on our phones when driving somewhere. Space is crucial not only to how we fight and win wars, but it is integral to modern day life.”
Does Spencer see a trip to space in his future? Only time will tell.
“As activities in space continue to grow, I hope that there will be opportunities for the Chaplain Corps members to participate in those missions. Who knows? If a base camp is established on the moon one day, maybe we will have the opportunity to setup and operate a chapel on the moon,” he said. “And once people travel to Mars, I’m sure they will eventually need a chaplain there with them. Wherever the Airmen of the Air Force and the Guardians of the Space Force go, they will always need a chaplain to provide for their free exercise of religion and spiritual care.”
Learn more about Church of God chaplain ministries and discover opportunities for support at https://www.jesusisthesubject.org/chaplains/. There you’ll also find a video interview between Jim Lyon and Chaplain Spencer about his new role.
Julie Campbell is an editor at Warner Christian Resources (formerly Warner Press) and a freelance journalist. A former city girl from Chicago, she enjoys country life with her husband, Russ, on a five-acre apple orchard in Madison County, Indiana. She is a blessed mom of three wonderful young adult children and one very spoiled white boxer.
Feature (top) photo: Chaplain Spencer on Air Force Two during a Vice Presidential visit to Colorado.