Opening of the First International Military Chief of Chaplains Conference

Article and Photos by S Lt L.A. Benjamin

The first International Military Chief of Chaplains Conference was officially opened on Monday, 02 February 2009 in Cape Town at the Southern Sun, Cape Sun. The Chaplain General Division of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) will host delegates from 01 to 06 February 2009 who represent the following countries:

Botswana      Madagascar
Burkina Faso      Malawi
Burundi      Namibia
Congo Brazzaville      Seychelles
Cote d’ Ivoire      South Africa
Gabon      Swaziland
Ghana      Zambia
Jordan      Zimbabwe

Chaplain General of the SANDF, Brig Gen M. Cornelissen presents the Holy Bible as a gift to the MoD on behalf of the delegates attending the conference.

Austria      Greece
Belgium      Netherlands
Bosnia & Herzegovina   Norway
Cyprus       Poland
Czech Republic Spain
Denmark Switzerland
Estonia Sweden
France UK
Finland Ukraine


Asia & Pacific Americas  
Australia Canada
India USA

The proposed topic for the conference is: “The role of the Chaplain in Reconciliation and Healing in Post-Conflict Reconstruction”. In his speech the Minister of Defence, Mr Charles Nqakula said that South Africa could offer understanding to the visiting countries on how to move beyond bitter conflict to reconciliation and justice. Mr Nqakula commented: “If South Africa could bring reconciliation then it could surely be done in the globe. All the Chaplains present at the conference should unite and in turn unite all countries across the globe.”

Invited media was given the opportunity the ask questions during the media briefing.

MoD, Mr Charles Nqakula addresses the delegates at the conference.

In February 1990, the United States European Command (USEUCOM) coordinated a NATO Chief of Chaplains Conference in Stuttgart, Germany. The purpose was to provide a forum for dialogue and discussion to enhance interoperability and foster cooperation and communication among national element Chaplains during combined NATO operations.

The second conference was held in 1991, at Church House, British Army of the Rhine, Lubbecke in the Federal Republic of Germany. At the conference participants discussed expanding the forum to include nations of the former Warsaw Pact. Hungary, Romania, Czechoslavakia and Poland sent observers and the conference title was changed to the “North American/European Chief of Chaplains Conference.”


MoD, Mr Charles Nqakula arrives at the conference.

The SA Navy Band sounds the alert for the General Salute to the MoD.


The 1992 conference held in Rome was the first annual conference to be held outside of Germany. It was sponsored and co-hosted by USEUCOM, and co-hosted by the Ministry of Defense of Italy. This model, of USEUCOM acting as sponsor and co-host, with the Ministry of Defense of the nation in which the conference is held serving as co-host has continued throughout the subsequent conferences. The conference title was changed to the “International Military Chiefs of Chaplains Conference.”

Since not all countries of the world were represented, the Chaplain General of the SANDF, Brig Gen M. Cornelissen, on behalf of the Chief of SANDF, proposed to co-host the first International Military Chiefs of Chaplains Conference in Cape Town expanding the annual IMCOCC conference to a world conference.