A former staff member and educator at Living Word Christian Center in Brooklyn Park has been appointed as the full-time support chaplain for the Minnesota National Guard.
Maj. Phillip “Buddy” Winn, age 42, of Osseo, has served in the National Guard 25 years. He deployed to Iraq in 2007 and Kuwait in 2011. Winn also served as the chaplain for the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team of the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division. He most recently served as dean of students at the church’s school, Maranatha Christian Academy.
Although Winn comes from a military family with religious roots, he is the first chaplain in the family. But he didn’t start with that goal.
For Winn, being in the military was a given. His grandfather, both parents, three brothers, a sister and cousins all served in the military.
“I haven’t really ever known any different than being in uniform,” he said. “My dad basically said, ‘Hey, we’re going to the recruiter.’ … I just thought that’s what you did.”
His father, also named Phil Winn, is now the outreach pastor at Living Word Christian Center but never served as a chaplain.
“I tried to carve out my own path into becoming an officer, since the rest of my family had all done that,” Winn, Jr., said.
When he attended officer candidate school in 2001, he quickly realized that wasn’t the path for him.
“I didn’t survive more than a couple months,” he said.
Looking back, Winn believes God had another plan.
Shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks, Winn received a phone call from someone suggesting that he’d make a good chaplain. He ended up enrolling in Bethel Seminary in St. Paul, and joined the chaplain corps in 2006 after graduating.
Winn sees the role of a chaplain as vital.
“I’ve heard it said – and I’m fond of the phrase – chaplains maintain the most lethal weapon on the battlefield, and that’s a soldier,” Winn said. “We maintain soldiers and their families… We nurture the living, care for the wounded and honor the fallen.”
In his new role as a full-time support chaplain, Winn now maintains the chaplains who maintain the soldiers.
“My responsibilities now are largely to coordinate religious support for the … approximately 14,000 soldiers and airmen of the Minnesota National Guard,” he said.
Winn is a member of the staff of Maj. Gen. Richard Nash, the adjutant general of the Minnesota National Guard. He began in the position April 1, but the Guard made the official announcement May 1, the National Day of Prayer.
“Spiritual health is important to the overall well-being of a service member, so we are excited to have Twin Cities native, Chaplain Phillip ‘Buddy’ Winn, join our team,” Nash said in announcing the appointment.
Winn said he was honored to be selected for the post.
“I was humbled to the core by the opportunity to serve the spiritual needs of soldiers, airmen and their families,” Winn said. “It’s a job that’s very demanding, but also very rewarding.”