Stennis Chaplain Lt. Brian Kimball performs an invocation at a burial at sea aboard Stennis Feb. 16. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Walter Wayman.)

Story by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Heather Seelbach

Stennis Chaplain Lt. Brian Kimball gave crew members divine insight and leadership for two years, but left active-duty on Wednesday to become a Navy reservist and civilian pastor at the First Baptist Church in Sultan, Wash.

Sailors who worked with Kimball say they will miss his easygoing personality and positive outlook on life.

“Chaplain Kimball is a positive and upbeat person who brings joy to those around him,” said Religious Programs Specialist 3rd Class Jason Marcotte. “Every time I saw him, he was smiling, and it made me smile.”
Kimball was known to his co-workers as a fan of science fiction, particularly Star Wars and Star Trek.

Senior Chief Religious Programs Specialist (SW/AW/FMF) David Walsworth said that the popular Star Wars phrase, ‘the force is strong with this one’, is especially fitting for Kimball.

Kimball was a mobilized reservist in December 2002 and requested to go to a Marine infantry battalion to serve in combat, and in 2004, he served in 1st Marine Division during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

“It was rewarding to be given the opportunity and say yes to the call,” said Kimball.

Following his combat tour, Kimball wrote a thesis on post-traumatic stress disorder for his Doctorate of Ministry while attending Midwestern Baptist Seminary in Kansas City, Mo.

“I earned my doctorate by helping people connect with their own experience of overcoming stress,” said Kimball.

In addition to ministering to Sailors during Stennis’ 2009 Western Pacific deployment, Kimball provided counseling following the tragic loss of a Sailor in Singapore.

Kimball ministered, counseled and advised many Sailors during his time aboard Stennis, including those who work with him.

“He can listen and give good advice on personal issues, but he can also be very professional,” said Religious Programs Specialist 2nd Class Ian Wakefield. “It’s a great balance.”

His duties included providing ministry for Casualty Assistance Call Office (CACO) calls, which entailed notifying Sailors who experienced a death in the family, and he also conducted burials-at-sea.

Kimball conducted two weddings for Stennis Sailors, one of which led Kimball to the town of Sultan, Wash.

“I drove through Sultan and fell in love with the town, contacted the church, and they eventually asked me to be their next pastor,” said Kimball. “I’m really looking forward to moving to Sultan to be a pastor of the First Baptist Church.”

Kimball said his nine years in the Navy provided him with a wealth of knowledge, and many friends and memories; he leaves active duty with no regrets.

“There’s a certain element to this that I will miss, but every time I hear the national anthem, I’ll be able to have a great deal of pride knowing that I’ve done something that very few have ever done for their nation,” said Kimball. “I’ve served in combat and I’ve served at sea. I can certainly say with great peace that I’ve done my part.”