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Prayer luncheon encourages mask removal

GRAND FORKS AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- More than 300 people were encouraged to remove their masks during Tuesday’s National Prayer Luncheon at the Northern Lights Club.

Maj. Gen. Charles Baldwin, Air Force Chief of Chaplains and the keynote speaker, thanked the Warriors of the North for “what you do every day” and continued with a message about how people face and defeat their “phantoms” by using metaphoric comparisons to “Les Miserables” and “The Phantom of the Opera.”

“It’s possible to live our lives free of phantoms who want to hurt and control us,” Chaplain Baldwin said, referring to past and present evils like Adolf Hitler, the Cold War, Osama bin Laden, drugs, alcohol, and personal failures.

To defeat these phantoms, you can face them or join the masquerade parade, he said. 

Characters in “The Phantom of the Opera” enjoyed a masquerade party while the Phantom stayed away for six months. 

“When the Phantom returns, the party is over,” Chaplain Baldwin said. “Ignoring the Phantom doesn’t make him go away, and we’re more terrified when he reappears.” 

The alternative he proposed is to join the victory parade. 

“The victory parade is the opposite of the masquerade parade; you have to take off your mask and embrace the spirit. Phantoms flee when the spirit of God is present.” 

The chaplain added that signs for the victory parade say, “No mask required, come as you are.” 

The luncheon included music by The Prairie Dog Companions and Capt. William Howard; and scripture readings by Col. Lee DeRemer, 319th Operations Group commander, and Ms. Aurora Perkins.