Barbara Putnam, a Chaplain with the Canadian Armed Forces since 2000, was recently promoted Colonel and appointed Director of Chaplaincy Operations in the Royal Canadian Chaplain Service (RCChS). She is the first Baptist Chaplain and first woman to hold this rank and appointment in the RCChS.
Col. Putnam’s military service includes another “first” – her promotion to Lt. Col. in 2012 was the first time in nearly 50 years that a Baptist Chaplain received senior rank in the Chaplaincy branch. At that time, she also served as the Principal Protestant Chaplain for the Canadian Armed Forces and Deputy Director of Chaplain Services, where she was responsible for chaplain recruiting, education, training and policy. In 2013, she moved to the role as the Command Chaplain of the Royal Canadian Air Force.
After graduating from Acadia Divinity College and Acadia University with a Master of Divinity in 1995, Barb, a native of Saint John, New Brunswick, served churches in the Canadian Baptists of Atlantic Canada. Her calling led her to the Canadian Armed Forces in 2000, and throughout her military service, she has been posted to CFB Petawawa, CFB Gagetown, and CFB Borden. She was deployed to Kabul, Afghanistan, in 2003 with a National Command Element, Brigade Headquarters staff and soldiers from the 3 RCR Battalion Group to form rotation zero of Operation ATHENA, Canada’s first contribution to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).
In 2012, Col. Putnam was honoured with the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal and the Canadian Decoration for 12 years of service to the Canadian Armed Forces. Col. Putnam and her husband, Rev. Brad Putnam ’95, now currently live and work in Ottawa.
Col. Putnam has ministered to Canadian Forces personnel both in dangerous deployments and at home, reassuring them that they are “wearing God’s armour, the armour of faith and truth and righteousness.” The Canadian Armed Forces are blessed with the service of Col. Putnam, and Acadia Divinity College is blessed to call her an alumna!
About Chaplaincy in the Canadian Armed Forces
The Royal Canadian Chaplain Service contributes to the operational effectiveness of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) by supporting the moral and spiritual well-being of military personnel and their families in all aspects of their lives, during conflict and peacetime. Chaplains minister to the needs of all members of the CAF and their families, whether they attend church or are of the same religion – whether they have any spiritual beliefs at all.
CAF chaplains have dual accountability, to ecclesiastical and military authorities. As faith group leaders, chaplains come under the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of their denominations and faith groups. As commissioned officers, they are subject to the code of service discipline and are responsible to their military superiors. The Royal Canadian Chaplain Service is headed by a Chaplain General who advises the Chief of the Defence Staff and reports administratively to the Chief of Military Personnel.
Source: Government of Canada, Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces
About Acadia Divinity College
Acadia Divinity College equips Christian leaders for full-time and volunteer ministry in Canada and the world. The College provides an environment that places students at the centre of the educational experience, preparing them to lead with passion, purpose, skills, and knowledge to serve the mission of the Christian church in the reality of ever-changing cultures.