On April 28th, 2017, Rear Admiral Margaret Kibben, Chief of Chaplains of the Navy, along with members of her staff, visited with faculty and students in the Dean’s Library at Seminary of the Southwest to lead a conversation on military chaplaincy.
Overseeing the chaplaincy needs of the Navy, Marines and Coast Guard, Admiral Kibben spoke on the need for broad representation of faiths and denominations in military chaplaincy, sharing both her experience as the 26th chief of chaplains, and personal experience as a chaplain and career military officer. She emphasized the military’s commitment to the chaplaincy program, reflecting on the importance of “the idea that for every individual who serves, in the Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Army and Air Force, they have the opportunity to freely express their religion. That’s our Title X responsibility: to ensure that each person who says ‘I want to serve my country’ doesn’t have to leave behind that opportunity to freely express who they are, and that when they leave that congregation, they can come into the service and say ‘I don’t have to give that up’.”
The Rev. Dave Scheider, Director of Loise Henderson Wessendorff Center for Christian Ministry and Vocation, and himself a former a U.S. Army chaplain for 25 years, noted the importance of the visit. “This amazingly influential woman offered us an invaluable description of the needs of the chaplaincy and how this seminary can support the men and women who serve in the various military organizations. She encouraged us to send well formed priests to serve as chaplains and to consider ways in which we can provide additional, specialized education for current military chaplains. I was approached afterwards by several students that remarked that they wanted to discern how they might become chaplains in their future ministry.”
Admiral Kibben’s impressive accomplishments include being the first female chaplain at U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland,and several awards including the Legion of Merit with one gold star, the Bronze Star, the Meritorious Service Medal with two gold stars, and the Navy Commendation Medal with two gold stars.