November 28, 2023

The Alliance Celebrates Its First Space Chaplain

Providing spiritual care to those called to protect U.S. interests in Space

by Kevin Pies, executive director for Alliance Chaplain Ministries

The Alliance is honored to have Major Gabriel “Gabe” Lawson serving as our first Alliance chaplain to the U.S. Space Force (USSF). The USSF was established on December 20, 2019, creating the first new branch of the armed services in 73 years. Its existence resulted from widespread recognition that Space is a national security imperative. The premise that Space is vital to modern military operations also holds true for the average American. Satellites connect people in every corner of the planet, monitor weather patterns, transmit television broadcasts, and enable the timing and navigation services of GPS devices. As a chaplain for the Space Force, Gabe serves the spiritual needs of those tasked with protecting U.S. access to the Space capabilities so fundamental to our modern way of life.

Critical Spiritual Support

Gabe is currently serving as the deputy Delta chaplain at Vanderburg Space Force Base (SFB) in California. As an Air Force chaplain, he assists the Delta chaplain in leading a 12-member chapel team to provide spiritual care to 2,700 Air Force and Space Force troops and their families. Gabe also participates in other religious and patriotic ceremonies along with providing one-on-one counseling and critical spiritual support. This involves leading worship services and prayer meetings as well as providing spiritual leadership development and religious education classes. In doing so, Gabe must often rise to the challenge of meeting the diverse spiritual needs of airmen and Space Force guardians─the official name of our military Space professionals.

When a service member or their dependents come to Gabe seeking support, he treats all with respect and dignity, accommodating their religious beliefs and directing them to a chaplain or pastoral leader of their faith, regardless of their belief system. This respect for diverse beliefs and practices is vital for the preservation of religious liberty.

Gabe is highly effective in monitoring and supporting the troops’ morale, resilience, and well-being. Vandenberg SFB supports many high-risk, high-visibility missile and rocket launches, national security missions, multiple training missions, and a constant rotation of deployments. In times of crisis, Gabe goes to great lengths to provide crisis intervention and support amid tragedy, loss, or other traumatic events.

A Modern-Day Daniel

Like a modern-day Daniel, Gabe will often step in to report to his higher authority or senior leaders and help them better understand and assess important religious, ethical, and moral issues. This also helps commanders understand and address the spiritual and moral needs of their own personnel.

You can often see Gabe involved in training and educational programs on topics like ethics, resilience, and mission competence. This results in highlighting the importance of both integrity and morality in the military profession.

Gabe is an Asbury University and Asbury Seminary graduate and got his start in ministry serving at First Alliance Church in Lexington, Kentucky. He is set to graduate with his DMin in leadership and spiritual formation from Portland Seminary in May 2024. Gabe was commissioned into the Air Force Chaplain Corps in 2008.