New wing chaplain returns to his roots for Air Guard ministry

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Vicky Spesard
  • 123rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
The Kentucky Air Guard’s newest chaplain, Capt. James Detwiler, is a native of Eminence, Kentucky, who spent four years on active duty before returning home to provide religious ministry to Airmen in the Commonwealth.

“When I separated from active duty and found that there was an opportunity here, it was very exciting,” said Detwiler, a University of Kentucky graduate. “Having lived in Louisville many different times and with my military experience, I can relate to the people here and serve their needs better.

“I am looking forward to building relationships with the Airmen here as well,” he continued. “My goal is to provide a safe space, an ear to listen to and to fill whatever needs that my office can fill. If it’s something that I can’t do, I will find the person who can, to assist that Airman.”

Detwiler graduated with a master’s in divinity from Golden Gate Theological Seminary in 2008 and followed that with a doctorate from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2013. Having spent the last 20 years in pastoral ministry and seminary teaching, Detwiler admits that the military was not his initial career choice.

“I had many friends who served as military chaplains and the idea always intrigued me,” he said. “But it was a paper that one of my students wrote, a Guard member himself, which really spoke to me and revealed to me my calling.

“I went into the active-duty side first for the military experience,” Detwiler continued, noting that he served as chaplain at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming. “But my heart was always here.”

The need for him in Kentucky was great, according to Maj. Kerry Wentworth, 123rd Airlift Wing chaplain, who had been working to fill the open position for months.

“Chaplain Detwiler brings a great deal of knowledge and wisdom to this role,” Wentworth said. “He has Southern Baptist roots, which reflects the majority of our Airmen here with the same roots, and he’s very personable and willing to jump in and lend a hand.

“His military background also makes him a strong asset as he is already fully trained and deployable,” he continued. “James is also just a nice guy and is happy to be back home in Kentucky.”