James E. Moore, who was once considered by high school teachers and classmates to be the least likely to succeed, has been named the National Chief of Chaplain Service in the Civil Air Patrol (CAP), making him the first member of the Church to receive such an appointment.
The assignment comes with the responsibility for providing spiritual leadership, through approximately 700 chaplains, to the CAP's 60,000 members.
"I never expected to be in this position," he said shortly after receiving his three-year commission in August. He is now on the personal staff of Gen. James Bobick, national commander of the Civil Air Patrol with headquarters on Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama.
Since an executive order was signed by Pres. Harry S. Truman, "the Civil Air Patrol has been the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force with the three-fold purpose of providing aerospace education, cadet programs, and search and rescue. My responsibility entails policy-level decisions for chaplains in 50 states and Puerto Rico," he said.
"While I have my flight wings and have participated in rescue missions, my focus is the moral and leadership development of youth in the cadet program."
Brother Moore has been a member of the Church for 30 years. He, his wife and their 8-year-old son were baptized in February 1968.
He was born on a farm in eastern Iowa in 1935 across the Mississippi River from Nauvoo, Ill., and even though he felt a certain peace when he visited Nauvoo, he grew up knowing nothing about the Church nor its teachings.
As a farm boy, he learned to work hard by raking hay in the heat of the summer and picking corn in the cold of late fall. He gained his religious background from teachings in Sunday School, but when his father died in 1967, he was suddenly overwhelmed with questions about life, but couldn't find anyone with acceptable answers.
He approached the minister who performed his father's funeral, someone he had known for years, and was told that his father was in heaven. "That didn't sit right with me," he said. "I had read my Sunday School lessons and knew about a judgment and resurrection."
During the next months, Brother Moore raised gospel questions whenever he could. He attended as many meetings of different denominations as time permitted. He sat in the office of a Protestant seminary teacher and discussed gospel questions for hours.
"I came to feel that the only way to learn about my father after death was to learn myself," he said. "I was going to have to attend seminary myself." Keeping his full-time employment during the day, he attended a Protestant seminary during the evening.
A short time later, he was at work walking down the hall discussing his gospel concerns with an associate. Brother Moore had noticed how the associate was friendly and often joined him and other salesmen during coffee breaks, but never drank coffee himself.
"Do you know anything about God or religion?" Brother Moore asked his friend.
"I'll tell you all you want to know, if you and your family will come to my home," the associate said.
"When we walked into his home, my friend was there with his family, and with two young men in white shirts and ties," Brother Moore related. "I knew immediately that these were men of His Church and kingdom. I asked for baptism that evening. My wife jumped in and suggested we study a little longer."
Years later, in 1975, after earning master's and doctoral degrees, and after completing four years of active duty in the U.S. Air Force, Brother Moore was at work one day when the distinct impression came to his mind that he needed to leave work. The notion seemed unreasonable and was dismissed. But again the impression came.
"I can't go," he told himself. But the feeling continued to press upon him until he found himself in his car and driving east on 6th Avenue in Denver, Colo. He soon turned into the parking lot of the National Guard headquarters.
"Do you have an appointment?" asked the military policeman.
"I don't know," he said.
"He looked at me rather strangely, then directed me to the personnel building," Brother Moore said. "I walked up the stairs, as if I knew my way around a building I had never seen before, and entered the personnel office. I was greeted by a man who said, 'You are here to see me about the chaplain position, aren't you?'
"Yes, I am," Brother Moore said.
He received his ecclesiastical endorsement from the Church and served as a chaplain in the National Guard for 12 years before joining the Colorado Civil Air Patrol in 1987 as a squadron chaplain. He earned various promotions during the next years, until he was appointed Rocky Mountain Region chaplain in 1994, prior to his present appointment as national chief of chaplains.