Captain Dale Goetz, Chaplain
Dale Goetz was the pastor of a small Baptist church in South Dakota in 2002 when a friend told him about the shortage of military chaplains. Goetz considered whether God might use him to help meet that need. His wife admits to having expressed some initial apprehension when first discussing the subject.
“I was not very excited about it,” Christy Goetz said. “I wasn’t naive. I knew if he joined, something could happen. I also knew that, if it was something the Lord would want, I should be willing. If the chaplaincy is what God has purposed for Dale, who am I to stand in God’s way?”
Goetz served his country and his fellow soldiers with compassion and care until being killed Aug. 30, 2010, by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan. The 1995 Maranatha graduate, according to the Army’s chief of chaplains, was the first Army chaplain to die in combat since October, 1970.
Christy Goetz, also a 1995 Maranatha graduate, has heard from people encouraged by her husband almost every day since his death.
Two young men emailed to say they had decided to become chaplains due to Dale Goetz’s influence. A couple contacted her to say his counseling sessions had helped save their marriage. A soldier who knew Goetz sent a cross made from marble that had been salvaged from the rubble of the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center. The gift was originally given to him by his father, a retired New York City policeman. A soldier named Frank wrote to say how excited Goetz had been about the Sunday morning worship service that preceded his death and the conversation that took place after that service.
“Then he … said that, when we were in the States, it was easy to love and pray for our enemies, but being here, it’s not that easy,” Frank wrote. “How are we supposed to pray for the person who wants to kill you? The person who is setting the bombs on the road for us to die? It’s hard. We need to pray for them to see Jesus. They are lost and don’t know what they are doing.”
Goetz was one of five men killed while traveling in a convoy near Kandahar Province in southern Afghanistan. His funeral took place Sept. 9 in Colorado Springs and memorial services followed in Grand Rapids, Minn., and White, S.D.
He is survived by his wife and three sons—Landon, 10; Caleb, 8; and Joel, born in July of 2009. Goetz led three people to Christ during the first 10 days of his deployment.
“He had a great burden for the soldiers,” said Jason Parker, pastor of High Country Baptist Church of Colorado Springs. “His specific prayer request was to see 300 soldiers come to Christ. He was also praying for God to call 10 of those soldiers into the ministry.
“God was using him. He was very actively witnessing. He didn’t want to be just a social worker. He wanted to see soldiers hear the Gospel and trust Christ.”
Dale Allen Goetz grew up in Oregon, spent four years in the Air Force, then enrolled at Maranatha. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Bible. Goetz played one year of football and two years of baseball for the Crusaders and was president of the missions prayer band as a senior. He was also named the Outstanding Greek Student as a senior.
“I do remember him as a very outgoing person, very friendly,” said Maranatha mathematics professor Phil Price, who played football and baseball with Goetz and also graduated in 1995. “Dale was a great guy. You could tell he was serious about wanting to serve God in whatever he was going to be called into.”
Goetz completed his Master of Divinity degree at Central Baptist Theological Seminary in Minneapolis in May of 2000. He became pastor of a church in White, S.D., that November and served there until beginning his work toward chaplaincy. Goetz was commissioned in January of 2004.He served at Fort Lewis, Wash., and Okinawa as well as 11 months in Iraq (2004-05). He earned the Meritorious Service Medal and was a three-time recipient of the Army Commendation Medal.
“Dale was blessed with an ability, kind of like the Old Testament prophets, to be assertive but gentle about it,” Christy Goetz said. “He didn’t mince words. That was what the soldiers needed. He was able to build rapport with the younger soldiers by keeping up with them, and even beating some of them, during PT (Physical Training). God used that to build bridges. They had a lot of respect for him.”
Goetz Memorial Fund
Plans are being finalized for a privately funded memorial fund in the name of Captain Dale Goetz. This fund’s purpose includes a scholarship to help provide for the education of those Maranatha Baptist Seminary students who are preparing to enter the ministry of military chaplaincy. The fund also provides Christian materials and assistance to current chaplains serving the spiritual needs of American servicemen and women. Please consider helping sustain Captain Goetz’s legacy of dedicated service to God and military personnel by donating.
Maranatha students can enroll in either the Army or Air Force ROTC. Army ROTC produces leaders who will be commissioned as Second Lieutenants. In addition to providing quality leadership training, ROTC programs award scholarships to students to help them pay for college.
Maranatha’s Army ROTC program has distinguished itself on several fronts. It has grown from six cadets in 2006 to a record 26 in 2010. A five-man team from Maranatha defeated squads from nine much larger schools to win the Ranger Challenge at Fort McCoy in both 2009 and 2010. Cadet Paul Shirk was named winner of the John W. Sterling Award in 2008 as the outstanding senior in the UW-Madison unit. Maranatha has provided the color guard for several significant regional events. Cadets can also participate in other extracurricular activities, including competitions and a unit awards program.
The ROTC program at Maranatha is open to all majors and can be combined with an Organizational Leadership minor or concentration. Students take ROTC classes for credit while pursuing a regular college degree.
If you share Captain Dale Goetz’s burden for soldiers and are considering a military chaplain’s ministry, consider preparing for that special calling at Maranatha Baptist Seminary.
“There is a real need for godly chaplains,” Christy Goetz said. “We need young men who will work with these soldiers and, hopefully, be a light to them.”
Maranatha offers its students the chance to serve as a military chaplain upon their graduation. The Department of Defense has approved Maranatha’s Master of Divinity program for chaplaincy preparation. Every branch of the Armed Forces offers the explicit chaplaincy training for those who have completed their Master of Divinity.
“This is a great opportunity,” said Dr. Larry Oats, Dean of the Seminary. “The military is filled with young men and women, all at a very impressionable time in their lives. Some of them will grow up very quickly.”
Prospective chaplains are not required to enroll in the ROTC program but may elect to do so. There are also some advantages for those who wish to serve in the Reserves or state National Guard units while completing their education.
Jason McDonnell, 25, a Maranatha Baptist Seminary student from Tempe, Ariz., joined the Army National Guard as a chaplain candidate. He is required to attend military training one weekend each month and two weeks during the summer.
“I see three real advantages to doing chaplain training through the National Guard,” McDonnell said. “First, I have a chance to gain some experience now. Second, there are health insurance and benefits, which are important to me because I am married. Third, it’s leading me directly to where I feel the Lord wants me to go.”