Lieutenant Commander Takana L. Jefferson (MDiv, ’11) – U.S. Navy photo by Elizabeth Kearns

Lieutenant Commander Takana L.  Jefferson, Command Chaplain for Naval Support Activity Washington, has served in the military a total of twenty-eight years, with ten of those years active duty as a Navy chaplain. She has also served with the Marines  twice, and the Coast Guard once. Jefferson is a non-denominational  chaplain endorsed by the Coalition of Spirit-Filled Churches.  

Jefferson is originally from Wartrace, Tennessee, where she  was formed in the Church of God  in Christ. When Jefferson arrived  at Memphis Theological Seminary,  she was a youth minister working at Germantown Christian Center, and  she knew she wanted to serve as a  military chaplain.  

 “I wanted to work with the Marines because as a corpsman, I saw a lot  of Marines that were struggling with  being in war and having to come back  and reconcile their faith with the  things that happened in the war.  

A lot of them were really struggling  and they needed a safe space to  be able to talk, and that was really  honestly one of my main motivations for wanting to become a chaplain. I wanted to be a safe outlet for them to be able to share their struggles, and  to reassure them of their faith and their calling, and that they were not  compromising their faith by serving  their country.” 

Jefferson received her Master of Divinity degree from MTS in 2011. Jefferson credits MTS with preparing  her for the plurality that comes with serving in the military, as she provides spiritual support to a diverse  array of people.  

 “Being in an ecumenical community  experiencing the Eucharist, learning different terminology, and being  with others, it definitely opened my mind when I became a chaplain. I feel like I walk as Jesus walked. He loved everyone, regardless. MTS  provides you with the education and the experience that you need to be open-minded. A lot of schools are  single-minded, but I believe that MTS has a broad horizon, everything from  the DMin in Land, Food, and Faith  Formation, to helping the homeless,  to pastoral counseling classes, there  is so much that is offered at MTS that really prepares you for ministry as a whole. Not just preaching, because  that’s only one small aspect of  your job as a minister, or as a Navy chaplain, or as a chaplain, period. A lot of your interactions are personal, and you have to be able to accept  someone regardless of their faith background, sexual identity, and race.  

“If people are your passion, military  chaplaincy is a wonderful opportunity  to connect and serve in a way that  you would not be able to in a church,”  Jefferson said. “If you look at my  uniform, you’ll see a cross, and you’ll see my rank, and it’s learning about how to balance the two.” 

This story originally appeared in the 2021-2022 President’s Report.

We recently announced a $70,000 matching pledge opportunity. One Cumberland Presbyterian couple was so inspired by our work that they have offered to match up to $70,000 for all donations recorded before our fiscal year ends on July 31st. We are grateful to God for this blessing, and we hope you might prayerfully consider a gift toward our matching pledge of $70,000 before July 31st. Your donation will be doubled, and if we reach our goal, you will be part of a $140,000 total contribution that will help us continue to form leaders for the Church and the world!