From the cockpit of a Globemaster transport plane to Anglican chaplain at RAAF Base Williamtown, it’s been a long journey for Flight Lieutenant Stephen Gibbins. From 2005, he served as a pilot in the Royal Australian Air Force, at one stage in command of the C-17A Globemaster on duty in Afghanistan.

“He is now a different kind of pilot, as he guides people through life’s challenges.”

With the sponsorship of the RAAF, Flight Lieutenant Gibbins studied at Moore College and served at churches in Annandale and Rooty Hill – and more recently at Vine Anglican Church in Surry Hills. The parish experience was part of his chaplaincy training.

On November 28, he was ordained as a presbyter by the Bishop of South Sydney, Michael Stead, completing the last step prior to his RAAF posting. 

“People in the military ask the big questions in life: ‘Am I living a good life?’; ‘What is the good life?’; ‘What’s the point of it all?’,” the Rev Gibbins says. “I am convinced Jesus is the answer to these big questions, and so longed for the opportunity to be freed up to share this good news all the more.”

Principal air chaplain, Archdeacon Kevin Russell, was at the service and officially presented the new chaplain to the bishop.

“I have been following Stephen’s journey since his first expression of interest in 2011,” Archdeacon Russell says. “Stephen has a genuine interest in service and people, and feels that he can make a genuine contribution to the wellbeing of our aviators with their families. He is now a different kind of pilot, as he guides people through life’s challenges.”

Chaplain Gibbins asks Christians to support the work of military chaplains through their prayers. “Whenever you see a member of our community in defence uniform, or as prompted on Anzac Day and Remembrance Day, please pray for me, my family and for chaplains in the defence force Australia-wide,” he says. “May we make Christ known wherever we are posted.”

Photo: (l to R) Bishop Stead, Fl Lt Gibbins, Archdeacon Russell and Vine Church pastor the Rev Toby Neal.