HARRISBURG –Following the August decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit upholding the chamber's traditional session-opening Prayer practices, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives Guest Chaplain Program resumed today, Speaker of the House of Representatives Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) announced.
“We are so pleased to resume our traditional prayer program and honored to have had Capt. Glen Wood, the U.S. Navy’s Region Mid-Atlantic Force Chaplain, based out of Norfolk, offer the prayer today,” Turzai said.
On Aug. 23, 2019, three years after a group of atheists and non-believers sued the House, claiming that their exclusion as guest chaplains violated the Constitution, the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals upheld the House’s traditional session-opening prayer practices – in particular, the prayers delivered by guest chaplains from a diverse array of faith traditions, as well as the request that members and guests rise for the prayer and Pledge of Allegiance.
“The Third Circuit ruled in the House's favor on all counts, holding the House’s prayer practices constitutional because they fit within the long history of legislative prayer in this country,” the Speaker explained. “The court found our prayer comports with the Supreme Court's presumption that legislative prayer invokes a higher power. The court explained that ‘only theistic prayer can satisfy the historical purpose of appealing for divine guidance in lawmaking.’ This ruling enabled us to resume our practice of inviting a guest chaplain to deliver an interfaith prayer before we begin legislative business.”
Wood received his ordination with the Assemblies of God in 1991. He attended Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary graduating with his Master of Divinity in 1994. While in seminary, Wood joined the Navy Chaplain Candidate Program Officer (CCPO).
Among notable duties, Wood served on Destroyer Squadron Nine (DESRON 9) in Everett, WA. During his tour at DESRON 9, Wood deployed to the Arabian Gulf on board the USS Nimitz.
In 2004, he deployed to Kuwait on special assignment for Marine Forces Pacific as the detachment OIC for Marine Corps Patient Tracking Team/Mortuary Affairs. In 2010, he deployed to Bahrain as part of the Marine Central Command Forward Element.
In July 2012, Wood reported to Naval Station Norfolk as the command chaplain. Upon his selection for captain, Wood moved back to Okinawa as the Marine Corps Installation Pacific Command Chaplain responsible for the Religious Ministries Program throughout the Asia Pacific. In 2016, Wood returned to Norfolk as the Region Mid Atlantic Force Chaplain.
His personal awards include the Meritorious Service Medal with four gold stars, the Navy Commendation Medal with one gold star and the Navy Marine Corps Achievement Medal with two gold stars.
He addressed the House chamber: “I invite you to join me in prayer. Almighty God, we pray, reflect and meditate in many ways and yet all sing ‘My Country Tis of Thee.’ We gather this day with what I would ask to be a spirit of humility and a burden of honor. Humility in service as each person elected here represents the great people of Pennsylvania. May every decision be marinated in wisdom seeking the common good of all.”
Wood also reflected on the lives of U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Christopher Slutman and Staff Sgt. Benjamin Hines. Each had ties to York County. They were killed in the line of duty on April 8 while conducting combat operations in Afghanistan. The House unanimously adopted a condolence resolution for each Marine following the invocation.
“I find it fitting that the first two acts of the session are to honor Staff Sgt. Hines and Staff Sgt. Slutman,” Wood said. “There is no greater act of patriotism nor greater dedication to the values that our great nation holds so dear, than to give the ultimate sacrifice while protecting her interests. For which, I ask that every person gathered here today carry the burden of honor for two of America’s finest, and the families who represent them.”
“We are honored that Capt. Wood led us in prayer on an historic day in the House,” the Speaker concluded. “As has been our policy, we will continue to open our daily business with prayers by chaplains from all religious faiths.”
Representative Mike Turzai
Speaker of the House
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Christine Goldbeck
717.787.7977 (office) 570.205.0736 (cell)