Volunteer pianist Chong Bennett plays "Battle Hymn of the Republic" as attendees of the National Day of Prayer service disperse May 6 at Frontier Chapel. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp

Katie Peterson | Staff Writer

Love was the central message of retired Brig Gen. Stephen Michael’s remarks at the Fort Leavenworth National Day of Prayer service May 6 at Frontier Chapel.

Guest speaker retired Brig. Gen. Stephen Michael, executive director of UBS Financial Services in Kansas City, Mo., and senior adviser for organizational culture to Training and Doctrine Command, delivers remarks during the National Day of Prayer service May 6 at Frontier Chapel. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp


“Leadership is love. When leaders love, lives are invested in, subordinates are empowered, there are less second-class citizens, (less) sexual harassment and assault, teams are built, hubris is kept at bay,” Michael said. “When leaders love, this nation has nothing to worry about. Its treasure, its sons and daughters, are in great hands.”

Chaplain (Maj.) Joel Kelley, operations and plans chaplain, says a prayer for the military during the National Day of Prayer service May 6 at Frontier Chapel. Prayers were also said for the nation and the COVID-19 pandemic during the service. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp


Quoting verses of scripture, Michael said ultimately all are asked to love above all things.
“That’s what the (Combined Arms Center) needs, that’s what the Army needs and that’s is what our nation needs,” Michael said. “But, the unchanging nature, that remains our quintessential challenge — man’s fallen nature, hubris, pride, greed … quest for power — there is always the potential for great peril.”


The tension between promise and peril has been part of the human story for centuries, Michael said.

As Chaplain (Maj.) Eric Light, chapel resource manager, and Chaplain (Maj.) Anselmo Brillon, Family Life chaplain, bow their heads to pray, Chaplain (Col.) Michael Jeffries, Combined Arms Center command chaplain, delivers the invocation at the beginning of the National Day of Prayer service May 6 at Frontier Chapel. During the service, Light said a prayer for the COVID-19 pandemic and Brillon said a prayer for the nation. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp


He spoke about how the “sins of the fathers” — including slavery, the treatment of Black soldiers following their return home from World War II and during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s — still haunt today’s society because of the power it is given, but that it can be changed with a force for good through the power of prayer.


“Prayer moves mountains. It steels the soul. … It leads to and imputes courage and character, but it also focuses on doing and on being a force for good,” Michael said. “It crystalizes that we are the instruments of God, and that it isn’t going to happen, it will not be done unless you, unless I, do it.

Guest speaker retired Brig. Gen. Stephen Michael, executive director of UBS Financial Services in Kansas City, Mo., and senior adviser for organizational culture to Training and Doctrine Command, delivers remarks during the National Day of Prayer service May 6 at Frontier Chapel. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp


“So, as we look at the challenges we are facing, and we pray for this Army and this nation, the change we seek is us,” he said. “As we look back, so much has changed and is changing. There is a huge gulf between where we were and where we are now …but there is still so much more that needs to be done. Remember, the sins of the father has no power over us unless we let it. What we need to do is expose it to the light and turn away.”


Michael said it’s not about changing history.


“It is about acknowledging our history and stating that this is no longer who we are. That’s how we relegate the darkness to the past and allow all the greatness of our shared history to propel us into the future. This nation remains the best on the planet, a shining city on a hill, the best that mankind has ever seen,” Michael said.


After quoting the opening lines of the Declaration of Independence, Michael said, “The Declaration of Independence is the thing upon which our Constitution stands, and together they remain the very thing that separates this country of ours from every other country on the planet. That idea is where America’s greatness and promise lies.

Chaplain (Col.) Michael Jeffries, Combined Arms Center command chaplain, delivers the benediction at the conclusion of the National Day of Prayer service May 6 at Frontier Chapel. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp


“This journey we are on, and the discussions we are having, it is not about diminishing America. It is about elevating it and enabling it to live up to and realize its full potential, and that is the task and work of every generation continually perfecting the union,” he said. “To understand why (this country) is not perfect, all we have to do is look in the mirror. It is made up of people like me and you, human, frail, all suffering from like passion, but whom are all capable of great things.

Kayla Atkins performs the national anthem as the National Day of Prayer service begins May 6 at Frontier Chapel. Atkins also provided special music during the service. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp


“You are, I am, we are the change we seek, so pray, lead with love and be the change you seek.”


Before his retirement from active duty, Michael served as the deputy commander of CAC-Training. As a civilian, he currently serves as the senior adviser for organizational culture to the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command.


Michael’s speech was preceded by prayers for the nation, the COVID-19 pandemic and the military, as well as a scripture reading and special musical.


For the full ceremony, visit the Fort Leavenworth Religious Support Office Facebook page.

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