NEWS & PRESS RELEASES
Alumnus Receives Honorary Doctorate
Chaplain James E. May, III, a colonel in the U.S. Army and a BBC and BBS alumnus, was awarded an honorary doctorate at Commencement on Friday, May 13, 2005. Chaplain May has served as Command Chaplain in the Military District of Washington for the past two years. Areas under his command include Arlington National Cemetery, the Old Guard (the Army's ceremonial troops for the D.C. area), and the Twelfth Aviation Battalion. Another part of Chaplain May’s assignment is to oversee State funerals.
May started his military career in the Marine Corps. He played in the Marine Band from 1968-1975. During that time, he played taps at numerous funerals of Vietnam veterans in Arlington National Cemetery. It was while listening to a Navy Chaplain speak at several of the funerals that he felt a call to ministry.
In 1975, he left the Marine Corps to come to BBC and BBS, where he received his M.Div. in 1980. He joined the Army Reserve as a Chaplain in 1981 and became an active duty Chaplain in 1982. During the past 20 years, he has served around the world in Korea, Germany, and Bosnia.
Chaplain May and his wife Ellen have three sons and one daughter, who have traveled around the world with them. "Our military experience has been wonderful. Our family enjoyed it—the adventure and the opportunity to see the world. It's an education of a different sort. My family has seen the world, and it has broadened their perspective," he said. Today all of the May's children serve in the U.S. Military.
Before his current assignment, Chaplain May served for two years at Arlington National Cemetery where he conducted over 3,000 funerals. "The most gratifying aspect was presenting the Gospel over and over again," said May, describing his time there. "I learned so much about our veterans."
The most memorable event he experienced at Arlington was the memorial service honoring military victims who died September 11, 2001, when the Pentagon was attacked. The Pentagon memorial, which marks the burial of a single coffin containing the remains of September 11 victims, is Pentagon-shaped with the names of those who died listed on it.
In describing his ministry in the military, Chaplain May was emphatic about the importance of his wife in his ministry. "My wife has been just as involved in the ministry as I have been. She has the gift of hospitality," he said. He also went on to explain how she is one of the Arlington Ladies. They serve as representatives of the Chiefs of Staff, so she is a representative of the Army Chief of Staff.
Chaplain May still has a passion for the ministry God has given him. "It's a call to duty. A call to serve your country, but most importantly, it's a call to serve God. There is no other ministry with so many opportunities for creative and abundant ministry," he said.
Posted on: 6/1/2005 10:38:48 AM