Veteran Friendly Congregation Initiative Launch Press Release


CONTACT:  Chaplain Dennis Lovin, Fred Owens                             CONTACT PHONE:  865-336-2624

Knoxville, Tennessee – On May 1st, Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett helped to launch a new Veteran’s program called Veterans Friendly Congregation Initiative.  In his remarks at the Knox County Community Action Committee Center, Mayor Burchett stated his support for VFCI during the When War Comes Home Forum, “My father fought with the United States Marine Corps and my uncle died fighting in World War II, so helping those who have fought for their country is an extremely important mission for me.”

More than 100 members from 60 different churches and area veteran friendly organizations attended the moving ceremony.

Remembering our fallen heroes and George Thomas our spiritual leader
Remembering our fallen heroes and George  Thomas our spiritual leader

Twenty-two veterans representing all branches of  military service participated in the opening candle light ceremony, each carrying a lighted candle to symbolize the fact that 22 returning veterans die of suicide every day due to military related causes.

Dr. Ed King, featured keynote speaker for the event, is the founder and senior pastor of Redemption Church, a thriving community service congregation located in Knoxville.  Dr. King addressed the specific needs of returning veterans along with the special concerns of their families and urged the clergy in attendance to ramp up their support by partnering with VFCI.

“It was wonderful to have Chaplains from Army and Air Force Guard units give us their perspective and ask our community to assist in helping families with soldiers and airmen who are now in harm’s way for all of us” stated Chaplain Dennis Lovin, VFCI Co-Chairman. Chaplain Lovin and VFCI Chairman Fred Owens are coordinating efforts with business, civic and congregational leaders to put in place a structured program to identify and assist veterans and their families.  In cooperation with CareForTheTroops ( , VFCI members expect to impact more than 50,000 returning veterans and their families in the coming year.

We received a tremendous amount of feedback from the Forum attendees. After reviewing the VFCI Forum Feedback Report 6-1-14, please let us know how we can better serve your church or organization.

We have enclosed a VFC registration form for those of you that didn’t complete the one at the forum or if you have read our material and are ready to join. If you have a questions regarding it’s completion please use the contact either Freddie Owens or Dennis Lovin.

The main goal of VFCI is to partner with veteran friendly congregations to identify attending veterans and put in place support programs which address their unique and special needs as military veterans. For more information about the Veteran Friendly Congregation, please visit  or call 865-336-2624.


Resources for VFCI

We are honored that you have registered as a Veteran Friendly Congregation (VFC).  If you need some support in starting your Military Ministry or want learn more or need someone to meet with you Clergy leadership please contact Freddie Owens or Dennis Lovin at 865-253-2794.

Click here to read our Veteran Friendly Congregation Guidelines.  If your ready to register please complete the VFC registration form and send it to VFCI,

Pastor Dr. Ed King Redemption Church Knoxville TN
Pastor Dr. Ed King
Redemption Church
Knoxville TN


  • Help the congregation members maintain an awareness of the existence and needs of those sacrificing their time and effort to support our country.
  • Create an environment of acceptance within the congregation for any extended family member who worships or visit the congregation; acceptance of their needs (physical, material, and spiritual), and a willingness to join their struggles, whatever they might be.

The title of the Forum was named after a Christ Center Solution book, When War Comes Home” written by Chris and Rahnella Adsit.  Our religious recovery LPG uses this book as their recovery manual each Monday from 10am till Noon at the Elmcroft of West Knoxville facility.

We received this letter from the authors on April 19, 2014 recognizing and supporting our mission. We are truly humbled by the kind words and thank them for Healing manuals: The Combat Trauma Healing Manual and When War Comes Home.

Pastor Aaron McCarter Maryville Vineyard Church
Pastor Aaron McCarter
Maryville Vineyard Church

On May 14, 2014 we a received a comment on our website from our first Veteran Friendly Congregation, the Maryville Vineyard in Blount County.  Pastor Aaron McCarter has posted “Connecting Veterans” on their website.  Pastor Aaron was recognized at our May 1st Forum for being the first congregation to register as a VFC.  We are blessed to have the Maryville Vineyard as a proud member of our initiative.



Veteran Friendly Congregation Registration

We appreciate your interest and the investment of your time spent learning how your congregation can better serve veterans and their families.

We remind you that in order for us to recognize your place of worship as a “Veteran Friendly Congregation” you need only follow through with these steps:

1. Complete the VFC registration form 06-02-14

2. Discover who in your congregation has served in the military.

3. Designate a member of that group to be a point of contact with us.

4. Discuss with your congregation the needs of your particular veterans.

5. Design your ministry to meet the specific needs of your veterans and their families.

Your congregation will be officially recognized by Peter McCall of Care For The Troops, and the Veterans Friendly Congregation Initiative, Your involvement will be published on both of these websites. You will receive a certificate indicating the day your congregation entered into this ministry and began partnering with these two organizations.

Your commitment toward becoming a Veteran Friendly Congregation begins with raising awareness among the current members now that you have this program in place. We urge you to publish this ministry in your bulletins, newsletters and websites at least on a monthly basis. Your veterans need to know to whom they can turn for assistance.

We stand ready to help. We are volunteers who want to encourage you to help us bring an end to the suffering of our fellow veterans. Thank you again for what you will do to serve those who have served!

For additional information for your church or organization feel free to contact ( see information below) for an orientation.

Freddie Owens, Chair, Veteran Friendly Congregation Initiative              865-405-634       

Dennis Lovin, Co-Chair, Veteran Friendly Congregation Initiative            865-755-1161       

Veteran Friendly Congregation Initiative Office                                           865-253-2794