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Q&A with the newest wing chaplain

Ch. Michael Engfer official photo

(courtesy photo)

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nevada --

Ch. (Maj.) Michael Engfer recently joined Ch. (Lt. Col.) Kenneth Rowley as part of the chaplain team here at the 926th Wing. Today we get to know him.

Where do you hail from? Seattle, Washington.

Where do you call home? I’ve lived in Henderson for nine years now with my wife and four kids.

What are your duties as a chaplain? I check in with the units and support religious expression, and emotional and spiritual needs. We all experience stress with finances, relationships, kids – we’re the listening ear.

What do you hope to achieve here? To remind people that we can provide confidential communication. Right now there’s a focus on suicide prevention, so we provide a safe place to share. I also let people know that counseling doesn’t have to be religious, and we don’t report on suicidal thoughts.

What’s your backstory? Prior to the military I was the Dean of Students at Davis College in upstate New York. I initially joined the Air National Guard in Reno, and even drilled with the 432nd Wing at Creech. Then I transferred to the Air Force Reserve and joined the 926th Wing.

Why did you join the military? I had wanted to join as a kid, but I got called to seminary. I studied in Philadelphia and received my Doctorate (ABD) at Lutheran Theological Seminary. I still wanted to help the military because I recognized that it was going through challenges. I found out I could do both, serve in churches and the Air Force, so I looked into direct commissioning. I was able to join as a captain because I had an advanced degree and more than 10 years of experience in my field.

What’s your day job? I’m a pastor at All Saints Episcopal Church, and I also conduct wedding ceremonies at the Cosmopolitan Hotel.

What do you do in your free time? Any activities with my wife – biking, dancing, exploring the Vegas nightlife – we’re big foodies! Through my church I’m also a representative for Nevadans for the Common Good. It’s a social justice organization that tackles issues like stopping human trafficking, expanding meals on wheels, and hiring more teachers.