Charlie Reynolds — known by his soldiers as Charlie Chaplain — has worked with religious leaders all over the world, attempting to use their influence to promote peace and stability in areas of intense conflict and war. Charlie grew up in Bedford County, Virginia, and received a B.A. from the University of Richmond in adolescent development. He earned Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry degrees from Golden Gate Seminary. His Doctor of Ministry project, “World Changers,” became a national youth program from 1990 till 2019, where high school youth gave a week of their summer to build homes and improve living conditions in poor urban communities. Before joining the military, Charlie served as a youth pastor and senior pastor in Innsbruck, Austria, and Northern California. While in Innsbruck, he studied German at the University of Innsbruck.
Charlie’s peacebuilding skills first emerged in Bosnia-Herzegovina, where his commander made him his liaison to the Serbian Orthodox priest, the Catholic Creation priest and the Muslim imam in the City of Brcko in the middle of the volatile Zone of Separation. Recognizing his talents, the Army sent him to Princeton Theological Seminary to earn a Master of Theology degree in world religions and culture. Charlie was then assigned to teach world religions and cross-cultural interaction at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School (SWCS) at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, where the Army trains its Special Forces soldiers. While at SWCS, he developed courses in ethics and the importance of faith in the POW environment, which were added to the SWCS curriculum. In 2004 SWCS honored him with the Officer Instructor of the Year Award.
In 2006, Charlie served as the senior chaplain for Regional Command Eastern Afghanistan, where he met with religious leaders. Upon his return, he was senior chaplain for the Joint Readiness Training Center in Hohenfels, Germany, where he trained U.S. Army and NATO chaplains preparing for deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan, and Kosovo on how to engage religious leaders. Selected for the elite Fellowship Program at the Army War College in 2009, Chaplain Reynolds was assigned to George Mason University’s then-Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution (now the Carter School), where he was an academic fellow under Dr. Marc Gopin. For his follow-on assignment, he became the religious adviser for United States Forces Iraq, working under General Lloyd Austin and Ambassador Peter Bodie. At his farewell reception, General Jeffrey Buchanan made this statement about Charlie’s work in Iraq: “The religious leaders did not respect Chaplain Reynolds because of his extensive knowledge of world religions, which he had, or because he represented U.S. Forces Iraq and the American embassy, which he did. They respected him because he loved the Iraqi people regardless of their ethnic background. In his example, they saw a way of dealing with diversity without having to fight one another.”
Charlie next served as the command chaplain for U.S. Army Africa, where he interacted with chaplains from all over the continent. His last deployment was to the Ebola crisis in Liberia as the senior chaplain for Operation United Assistance. A memorial service tribute that he composed for seven Liberian soldiers is now housed in Liberia’s National Archives. In his last assignment before his military retirement, he was director of the Army Center for World Religions. After his military retirement, Charlie served for two years as the first religious advisor for the Army Intelligence and Security Command. In addition to his work with CRDC, Charlie serves as the strategic military coordinator for the Olivet Institute for Global Theological Studies, an international think tank for strategy development. Charlie and his wife, Marcia Brown Reynolds, have two children and three grandchildren.