Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, Calif. --
The 18th Chaplain of the Marine Corps, Rear Adm. Margaret Kibben, visited the Combat Center to speak with Religious Ministry Teams about deployments and discuss current affairs within the Chaplain Corps May 7.
Kibben, who also doubles as the deputy chief of Navy chaplains, visited four RMTs from 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment; 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment; Marine Aircraft Group 11 and Combat Logistics Battalion 7 during the Integrated Training Exercise on her West Coast tour of Marine Corps installations.
During this time, she sat in on Cmdr. Steven Moses’ briefing about the hardships and procedures for providing religious ministries during the 4 teams’ upcoming deployments for Operation Enduring Freedom and the Unit Deployment Program.
The four teams’ were taught about the core competencies, to provide, facilitate, care and advise as a religious leader within their unit.
Moses, the Combat Center’s assistant chief of staff for Religious Ministries, said the teams were very happy to have Kibben reach out and offer words of encouragement and tips to be successful religious leaders.
Kibbens also had time to speak with the RMTs and about their career progress, and made sure they set themselves up with the right tools necessary to reach out to the units and provide faith groups with support if necessary.
“As we look at what the Navy and Marine Corps are retracting toward as we wrap up OEF, the mission of the Navy and Marine Corps is going to be humanitarian assistance and disaster relief response,” Kibben said. “It was incumbent on us as religious ministry teams to understand our ministry role for HADRs.
“It’s a different form of ministry,” Kibben said. “For those of you that have been in the Navy prior to 2000, you know that all we talked about was noncombatant evacuation operations, we talked about tsunami relief and we talked about humanitarian assistance. That was our bread and butter. That’s where we find ourselves now.”
What I’ve learned
> The Chaplain of the Marine Corps is the one responsible for the 290 chaplains and equal number of RPs assigned Marine Corps units. I’m responsible for making sure they have the resources they need, that they have an awareness of the items that the Commandant of the Marine Corps is interested in and wants to make sure we address and we respond to his requirement to keep faith with our Marines and sailors
> It’s a figurehead and that’s where it’s so exciting. It’s not Margaret Kibben; it’s the Chaplain of the Marine Corps.
> I’m also the advisor to the Commandant as far as religious ministries across the Marine Corps and the issues that are impacting Marines and their families.
> It’s a long story, but the short version is, I was called to (being a chaplain.) I was called to ministry when I was in 8th grade and the summer before my senior year in high school I felt a call to military ministry and pursued that.
> My dad was a sailor in World War II and received his commission afterwards through the reserves. I had an exposure to the military so I really like the idea of combining what I felt was a call to ministry to the context of military life.
> I’m married and I have a daughter.
> You want to do well, succeed and contribute everything you have and yet there’s another area to which you’re called and that’s your family. You want the best for your children and you want to be engaged in their lives and it’s a delicate and challenging balance.
> It helps the children understand that life has its choices. Part of those choices involves contributing the talents and gifts you’ve been given. Not only to your own personal enjoyment but also to the outer world.
> Give them an example of what it means to provide a balance, love those whom you have chosen to love, as well as to serve in a way that you have felt you have been called to serve.
> My husband is a retired Marine; he retired about six years ago. Well, he’s a Marine that’s now retired; let’s make sure I say that right. For us it worked incredibly well because he understood the environment that I was functioning in and I understood the environment in which he was functioning.
> The biggest challenge was we had several duty stations where we were not together.
> My daughter, Lindsay, who is going to be 16 next week, has a sensitivity to the needs of people that she wouldn’t have had otherwise, because I’m a chaplain, from the night of 9/11.
> The night of 9/11, I was in the D.C. area and I was called to be one of the chaplains in the area. She was four at the time. I put my uniform on at night, which was unusual, and she says, “Mommy, why are you going out?” and I said, “Well, because a number of people have died and their families are sad and they need to talk to somebody.” She says, “Then you should go.”
> She was four, I’m pretty proud of her. She’s a cool kid.
> A part of it is just who she is, but because of her exposure to that value of religious ministry in this environment, she understood at the most elementary level, that what chaplains do is incredibly important to the spiritual welfare of our people.
> She’s learning how to drive and we have a party I have to get home to cook for.
> She’s a sweetheart, she’s effervescent, she has a lovely sense of humor, she’s grounded, she has a depth of spirit that many people never even get near. She’s very considerate and very caring and a very sensitive child.
> She’s a special needs child she has cystic fibrosis, so she’s had some medical challenges. She has met those life challenges with strength and courage.
> She has such character and such strength that she is in many ways an example to me. Humility, I think it is.
> Having a daughter while in the military is a blessing and a challenge and as much as you want for your children’s stability, you know you want them to be able to grow up in the same house. On the other hand, they get a chance to see things and they are much more sophisticated than kids that don’t grow up in a military environment.
> I pray for my daughter’s health and that she can live a long and fulfilling life. She has so much to contribute and my husband feels the same way, so I can say that’s what I wish for my family. It’s not just for Lindsay, it’s for all of us.
> We are a family of faith so they get it. It’s that tension, I want to be home but I travel quite a bit.
> In my faith, Jesus said let the children come to me because of their innocence and their openness and their willingness to believe even though everything around them says not to. That’s what she is to me.
> I wasn’t called to be a female minister. I was called to be a minister.
> What I knew was that ministry in this context would be a daily event. It wasn’t just church on Sundays and that’s what appealed to me. It wasn’t just church on Sundays it was an eat, sleep, breathe, enjoy and endure all of the things that military members eat, sleep, breathe, enjoy and endure.
> Wow, I’ve had a heck of a good time. I have felt equipped, divinely equipped, and I believe time and time again that I am exactly where I need to be for the people with whom I am serving.
> That has been incredibly rewarding, and I can say this has happened at this duty station or this happened at that duty station, but if there’s an overall theme it is I felt a call, I responded to that call and I believe that I have been equipped for that call and have been reminded of that on a regular basis.