Kitchens, SBTS Alum, Promoted to Air Force Chief of Chaplains
Kitchens will lead the Department of the Air Force Chaplain Corps—consisting of 2,200 active and reserve chaplains and religious affairs airmen.
In 1994, Captain Claudia Foss couldn’t sleep. She thought she believed in God, but her family didn’t go to church, and she never considered becoming a Christian.Then desperation kicked in.
After exhausting all other options, Captain Foss, a rising star in the Air Force, called her chaplain. Randy Kitchens, a young Baptist minister just four years removed from seminary, answered.
Twenty-eight years later, Foss continues to write and speak publicly about that night when Kitchens shared the beauty of the gospel with her. Soon after, Kitchens baptized Foss as a Christian in an indoor pool. But Foss is just one. One of the many American air- men and airwomen touched by the life and ministry of Kitchens. Kitchens remains called to serving his God and country. And God has multiplied his role. Last year, Kitchens achieved the rank of major general and rose to become Air Force Chief of Chaplains with the unanimous consent of the Armed Services Committee.
“My promotion was a humbling experience and I recognize the magnitude of this responsibility,” Kitchens said. “My family has always supported God’s call and leading within my life, career, ministry and military service. My parents, wife, children, and their families are excited about this new level of leadership and service, especially for a time such as this.”
Kitchens will lead the Department of the Air Force Chaplain Corps—consisting of 2,200 active and reserve chaplains and religious affairs airmen. He will also continue serving on the Armed Forces Chaplains Board by providing insight to the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff on matters related to religion, ethics and quality-of-life.
“I realize that God’s calling upon my life and new areas of service have prepared me for the present and future,” Kitchens said. “As a pastor at Big Coppitt First Baptist Church in Key West, Florida prior to seminary,
I learned a great deal about ministry, identity, service, love, compassion, and people that created a great foundation—which then blossomed during my time at Southern Seminary.”
Chaplain Kitchens was ordained as a Southern Baptist minister in 1983. He joined the Air Force Reserves in 1987 and served as both a Chaplain Candidate and Chaplain. In 1989, he received a master of divinity from Southern. Entering active duty in the Air Force in 1993, Kitchens went on to earn a PhD from Louisiana Baptist University in 2001.
Said Kitchens, “Both of our children were born while my wife Sherri and I learned all we could grasp about ministry, missions, theology, scripture, and methodology. I began my military career as a USAF Reserve Chap- lain Candidate with summer training during those years at Southern. This aided my framework and understand- ing of theological pluralism within military chaplaincy and greatly prepared me for chaplaincy and my role to- day as Chief of Chaplains for the US Air Force and US Space Force.”
The road to promotion, however, wasn’t always easy. In 2017, Kitchens overcame a cancer diagnosis which resulted in surgery.
“While many have called this a miracle, I have called this a journey of faith and trust in my God who has guided, delivered, prompted, and ordered my steps and movements during my life. Overcoming this challenge has given me a greater understanding and resilience during difficult times, which enables me to live each day and lead each person with a renewed compassion and fervor unlike before.
“Pray for the Lord to give me wisdom as I serve the religious needs of our Airmen, Guardians, and their families, and for the Lord alone to be glorified in my new ministry responsibilities.”