Chaplain Commander Woody Bollinger will perform chapel service reminiscent of the 1860s on the deck of the newly opened USS Water Witch at the National Civil War Naval Museum at Port Columbus at 10 a.m. Sunday.
The location is 1002 Victory Drive.
Bollinger, a Civil War reenactor and long-time chaplain, portrays Commander Bartow, the staff chaplain aboard US Admiral Farragut’s flagship, the USS Hartford.
Cmdr. Bollinger is the founder of Battlefield/Battleship Christian Missions, founded in 1997 to provide Civil War-style ministries to army, cavalry and artillery reenactors. The ministry was expanded in 2002 to include naval and marine personnel. Bollinger’s ministry has taken him all over the Southeast, performing services, weddings and taking part in the burial of an actual Civil War soldier whose remains were found in Ringgold, Ga.
Before launching Battlefield/Battleship Christian Missions, Bollinger served as civilian chaplain for the Panama City Beach Naval Station after 9/11, before becoming the fire chaplain in Panama City.
As part of the service Sunday, Bollinger will use the original Water Witch Bible recently donated to Port Columbus. “I am excited and honored to be able to use and original Bible from the Water Witch,” Bollinger said in a statement. Bollinger will perform the chapel service while the church pennant flies from the mast, a navy tradition that continues today. Bollinger himself is donating the pennant to the museum, an 1860s replica he had made specially for the occasion.
The service will be a non-denominational Christian service, and Holy Communion will be served afterward.
The Water Witch project at Port Columbus has recreated a historic Civil War steamship in full-scale, to create a full on-deck experience for museum guests. This year’s annual RiverBlast will kick off with the commissioning ceremony, painstakingly recreated from Civil War records and accounts, and will continue Saturday and Sunday with family friendly activities and events. A full schedule of events can be found on the museum’s website.