Disciples News Service

Disciples Home Missions calls Chaplains Endorsing Officer

Submitted by Disciples Home Missions

It is with excitement and anticipation that The Rev. Ronald J. Degges, President, Disciples Home Missions, happily announces the appointment of Rev. Thomas Yates as the Disciples Chaplains Association Endorsing Officer.

Following graduation from high school, Yates enlisted and served in the US Air Force Reserve as a Chaplain Services Specialist at McChord Air Force Base, Washington. While on a tour of active duty during the Pueblo Crisis he met the founder and members of The Covenant Players – repertory theatre ministry. While the troupe was appearing at the Seattle General Assembly he was recruited to join them, opening the door to what would become his vocational calling.

As an actor, director, unit manager, and regional supervisor for the Players he traveled across the US and Canada presenting drama in churches and other organizations, including in Europe under contract to Army Chaplains and around the Pacific Rim under contract with Air Force Chaplains.

Tom met his spouse, Patty, when she joined Covenant Players and they recently celebrated 40 years of married life. They have two sons, two daughters, and five young grandchildren. Tom earned a BA in Theatre Arts from California State University, Northridge and both Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry degrees from Claremont School of Theology – with support from the Disciples Seminary Foundation.

After student ministry positions at Van Nuys, Claremont, Alhambra, and LaPuente, California, Tom was called as Senior Minister, First Christian Church, Longview, WA. It was there that he first experienced healthcare chaplaincy by carrying a pager for on-call shifts two nights a week at the local hospital. When he became Senior Minster of First Christian Church, Vancouver, WA, he also re-entered the military after a 20 year break in service. Tom was commissioned as an Army Chaplain, serving a Reserve training unit near the church.

Chaplain Yates completed Clinical Pastoral Education training in Olympia, WA and at the Portland VA Medical Center. He also graduated from the US Army Chaplain Basic and Advanced Courses and the Army Command and General Staff College. His full-time hospital chaplaincy included staff chaplain, chaplain team lead, Spiritual Care network manager, and support to Mission Services for PeaceHealth – a ministry of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace.

Following the events of 9/11, and as chaplain for an Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Brigade, he mobilized and deployed with his soldiers to Afghanistan in 2003/2004 and to Iraq in 2009/2010. Tom retired as a Lieutenant Colonel with 24 years combined military service.

Chaplain York was ordained at Central Christian Church, Van Nuys, CA. He is a Board Certified Chaplain and member of The Association of Professional Chaplains. He serves the Northwest Regional Christian Church as a member of the Commission on Ministry and First Congregational United Church of Christ, Vancouver, WA as Moderator. He retired from full-time hospital ministry in February of this year.

The Revs. Lorenzo York and Samuel Boone, both serving on the Search Committee, share, “Tom Yates is an exemplary Chaplain with extensive experience as a Disciples pastor, as well as military and hospital Chaplain.  His skill set, professional experience and spiritual gifts are aligned with an enviable and long Disciples tradition of having a seasoned servant leader and pastoral mentor as our Chaplaincy Endorser.  We are fortunate to have him onboard.”

Disciples Home Missions President, Ronald J Degges congratulates the Search Committee for its excellent work to identify the most qualified person to serve as the new Disciples Chaplains Association Endorsing Officer.

The Rev. Yates will begin his ministry with Disciples Home Missions and Disciples Chaplains Association on August 1, 2017.