A national chaplain is in the making

Minnesota gives endorsement to Kelley Adelsman

WILLMAR — Past National Commander Dan Ludwig of Red Wing Post 54 stood at the podium on Friday, July 15, and addressed the floor at the American Legion Department of Minnesota Convention in Willmar.

“I move this convention endorse Kelley Adelsman for the high office of national chaplain,” he said.

A second came from National Executive Committeeman Bill Barbknecht of Underwood Post 489.

Kelley Adelsman

Tom Fernlund, the commander of the department at the time, asked for discussion. Hearing none, he called for a vote. The convention delegates loudly exclaimed, “Aye!”

Adelsman, of Pine Island Post 184, is an ordained minister, through the Converge Worldwide Denomination (Swedish Baptist), with a Master of Divinity through Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary and Graduate School. She served in the Army 1984 to 1989 and the Minnesota National Guard 2006 to 2012. She served as a chaplain, with the rank of captain.

She was department chaplain in the 2021-22 Legion year, which begins anew at the end of each convention. She was the 3rd District vice commander 2019-21. She has served as the Post 184 chaplain and service officer, and she presently is the 3rd District historian.

Ludwig said he was pleased to make the motion.

“She is qualified, and she did a fine job as department chaplain,” he said.

Adelsman’s DEC endorsement will be added to other endorsements for national office from around the country. The national chaplain position is appointed, not elected. That means Adelsman’s possible term as the national chaplain probably would be five or six years from now — because there are endorsements already in the hopper from prior years.

“It’s been quite a humbling experience even to be considered for the national chaplain,” she said. “It’s like preparing for the privilege, if you will, of representing The American Legion’s spiritual program.”

Many companies and organizations don’t recognize the spirituality in people’s daily lives, but The American Legion does.

“That doubles down the honor for me,” she said.

Adelsman has been married to her husband, Mike, for 27 years. He is the golf pro at the course in Pine Island. They have three children ages 20 to 33.

She has been a hospice chaplain and bereavement coordinator in southeast Minnesota and in the Minnesota Army National Guard. She has served as the Mayo Clinic Veteran Mayo Employee Resource Group co-vice chair, where she was actively involved in presenting, writing and developing programs on who serves and what is U.S. Armed Forces.

In 2014, she participated in the Minnesota Suicide Prevention Task Force. She has served as the board chair for the American Foundation Suicide Prevention, Southeast Minnesota Chapter.

She has been an active member of the Department of Minnesota Training Committee since 2020. She also is part of the newly formed Minnesota American Legion Suicide Prevention Coalition. In 2019, Kelley was selected and attended National American Legion College.

Endorsement letter

Department of Minnesota Adjutant Mike Maxa’s letter to National Adjutant Daniel Wheeler reads: “At the 103rd Department of Minnesota’s annual convention in session 14-16 July 2022, Kelley Adelsman was unanimously, by delegation of the convention, endorsed for the high office of National Chaplain. Please accept this endorsement from The American Legion Department of Minnesota for Kelley’s nomination for National Chaplain. Thank you.”

The Rev. Kelley Adelsman, the immediate past department chaplain, pauses during the memorial service at the Department of Minnesota Convention in Willmar in July.