Doctor of Ministry

Year Approved


First Advisor

Hill, Greg


A distinct transition occurs when military chaplains return to civilian service as pastoral leaders. This project engaged in a biographical study of (Colonel) Chaplain James E. Wright in order to understand the effect service as a military chaplain has on the chaplain’s transition to service as a pastoral leader in civilian service. It identified the impact of his military chaplain service on his civilian pastoral leadership, examined the correlation between the pastoral leadership demonstrated by Chaplain Wright and biblical descriptions of pastoral leadership and reviewed literature related to the service of military chaplains as civilian pastors. Old and New Testaments give us many examples of leaders who were both warrior and shepherd. The warrior shepherd leadership expressions identified in this study were vision, discipline, decision making, courage, zeal, loyalty and a drive to fulfill their unique calling. Additional unique features of the ministry of military chaplains were identified as duality, counseling, concern for the general welfare, humanitarian work, young adult ministry, military mobility, non-building centered ministry and ecumenical ministry. The project also used J. Robert Clinton’s phases of ministry leadership development and Mark McCloskey 4R Model transformational leadership to identify key leadership characteristics. Chaplain Wright’s life was then examined for evidence of the development of these leadership patterns. This examination involved the review of many personal documents, review of his military record including performance evaluations and interviews conducted with individuals from four congregations he served as a civilian pastor. The project concluded that the vision, discipline and counseling that were developed by his time as a military chaplain were employed with great effectiveness in his civilian ministry. An established pattern of doing ministry with the troops flowed into a pattern of ministry that stressed being out with the people through hospitality, visitation and community involvement. Finally, his military experience allowed him to make strong ministry connections with other veterans in his congregations.

Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry

Document Type

Doctoral thesis