By Tom Mullikin
In the wake of a marked rise in both mental health and spiritual well-being issues – and a dearth of Christian outreach programs to deal with the same – there is said to be a ‘resurgence of need.’ This need is for new and ever-effective chaplaincy programs, and an enabling of those programs to train new chaplains, nationwide, for the military and for law enforcement, the various health-care industries, even in corporate boardrooms and on shop floors. Simply put, training new chaplains for chaplain service, missions, and outreach work has never been more important. And Dr. Michael W. “Mike” Langston, director of Columbia International University’s (CIU) chaplaincy program, is a key player in striving to achieve these ever-important objectives.
Langston, a retired Navy captain, has served as professor of chaplain ministries at CIU – helping build a global reputation for excellence in training chaplains – since joining the faculty in 2011. He previously served as commanding officer, Naval Chaplaincy School; and executive director of the Armed Forces Chaplaincy Center at Fort Jackson.
A native Louisianan, Langston attended the University of Louisiana on a football scholarship, graduated, and was commissioned a 2nd Lt. in the U.S. Marine Corps.
Following The Basic School (TBS – a unique 36-week program in which all newly minted Marine officers from the Officer Candidate School, Naval ROTC programs, and Platoon Leaders Class develop the finer points of leading Marines), Langston entered the Corps’ grueling infantry officers course (IOC – for Marine infantry officers is often under-sung for its very high attrition rate). Following IOC and service as a Marine infantry officer, Langston was honorably discharged. He then enrolled in seminary and received his Master of Divinity (M.Div.) at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) from Bethel Theological Seminary.
Langston returned to active duty, this time with the U.S. Navy as a chaplain and beginning a new career serving sailors and Marines (Naval officers provide all chaplain services to Marines, stateside and deployed): His Naval chaplaincy trek leading him around the world, serving with various land-based and sea-based Marine aviation units, including service as Air Combat Element Chaplain during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm aboard USS Guam (an amphibious assault ship) and USS Chosin (a guided-missile cruiser).
Langston then served at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii; the Naval Weapons Station Yorktown, VA; Naval Air Station Keflavik, Iceland; and Camp Lejeune, N.C. (where he served as deputy division chaplain – later division chaplain – for the 2nd Marine Division). He also served as director, Operational Ministry Center in Norfolk, VA; theater chaplain, Combined Forces Command–Afghanistan in Kabul, Afghanistan; and the Force Chaplain for II Marine Expeditionary Force in Al Anbar Province (specifically Fallujah) Iraq.
A highly decorated Naval officer and former Marine infantry officer, Langston also holds a Master of Arts from The Naval War College and is presently working toward completion of a second doctoral degree, a PhD from the University of Aberdeen.
Since joining the faculty of CIU’s Seminary & School of Ministry, Langston has not only taught Chaplain Ministries and Practical Theology, but he has worked to build the university’s chaplaincy program.
Aside from Naval service, Langston has served as a law-enforcement chaplain and a healthcare chaplain. He has also served the corporate sector as a chaplain.
Langston is ordained and endorsed through the Southern Baptist Convention. He is married to the former Kathy Lee Jones, PhD, of Greenville, S.C. They have three children and three grandchildren.
– Former U.S. Army officer Tom Mullikin is an attorney, university professor, global expedition leader and current commander of the S.C. State Guard. He is presently enrolled at CIU.