By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Damon Grosvenor
For most Americans, Sundays are a time to finish weekend chores, go to church, or simply have a day to sleep in before a new week begins. For those in the Navy, it is mostly the same, though for Sailors who are underway on one of the great naval warships of the United States it is usually another day at work.
Passing through the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) following Sunday brunch, you can expect to see a few Sailors preparing to fill the mess decks.
An assortment of rhythmic sounds emanate from the combination of acoustic guitar, bass sonic floor, and a traveling drum kit that are set up around a makeshift Bible altar. Service is about to begin.
This type of musically influenced Protestant Christian worship service is not standard for many underway destroyers, but on Porter it came into fruition after an exchange of ideas by a handful of Sailors who share a passion for music and faith.
Culinary Specialist 2nd Class Jose Regalado, Gunner’s Mate 1st Class Joseph Glasgow and Cryptologic Technician (Technical) 1st Class Robert Kutz recognized an opportunity to utilize their combined musical ability.
“I no longer play to play; I play to serve God,” said Kutz, a guitar player of over 10 years. “He gave us the opportunity to play together in Rota and now we worship him together at sea.”
Kutz said he believes music is an effective catalyst for faith and encourages more people to attend the service, especially when dealing with personal difficulties associated with being underway.
Kutz grew up in a faith-based home while moving all over the suburbs of Chicago, but ultimately calls Laporte, Ind., his home. It wasn’t until his first underway about five years ago that he rediscovered his faith after a long period of questioning throughout his teen and young adult years. He has since been a devout Christian and volunteers at the local church on Naval Station Rota, Spain, where he, Glasgow and Regalado play in the worship band.
“The three of us all feel the call to serve in that regard,” Kutz said. “God’s calling us to play.”
Regalado is a drum player of around 13 years. When he isn’t working, he is practicing his craft.
“Drums, drums, drums. Like breakfast, lunch, and dinner,” said Regalado. “Percussion lets you feel the music. It’s a very intimate extension of yourself, the visuals, volume and attitude.”
Regalado often sets up in front of the Rota Navy Exchange and performs for hours. Regalado said that Christ is a big part of his life and drums help bring him closer to God.
“Music is necessary for the atmosphere of worship,” Glasgow said. “It prepares your heart for God. The music helps bring everyone together while also letting each person enter their own worship experience. It’s my gateway to my experience. I enjoy the mood of praise.”
Glasgow, the bass player started to truly appreciate music when he and his wife lived in Virginia, volunteering as the sound technician and mixing the audio for the services.
While he has only played in a band for 6 months, Glasgow believes that music opens doors for his spirituality, and that bass is the foundation of music.
“I saw my buddy Joey play with my bass,” Glasgow said. “I loved the sound it made so much in the hands of someone who could play that I had to learn how. So, I asked Joey and he has been teaching me ever since.”
The average Protestant service on Porter has approximately 20 people attend each week, and the number seems to be getting stronger and more consistent with the addition of Kutz’s guitar, Regalado’s drums, and Glasgow’s bass.
Through music and service Regalado and his peers provide for the spiritual and emotional needs of the ship’s crew in a challenging forward deployed environment.
“I feel positive attendance will keep up and more people will come and stay,” said Regalado.