Reverend Dr. John (Van) Dickens

Reverend Dickens grew up in Shreveport, LA., graduating from Centenary College of Louisiana in 1977, earning a B. A. degree in Religion. He then received the Master of Theology degree from Southern Methodist University in 1983. In 1990, he graduated from Emory University with a Doctor of Ministry degree. Reverend Dickens was ordained Elder in 1985 by the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church, serving several churches before transferring to the North Carolina Conference. In August 1994, he was commissioned Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy (Chaplain Corps), completing the Navy Chaplain’s Basic course in Newport, Rhode Island in October 1994 and reported for duty at Second Marine Division, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, with deployments to Okinawa, Japan, and South Korea.

In July 1997, Chaplain Dickens was assigned to the United States Coast Guard Yard, Baltimore, Maryland as Command Chaplain. In September 2000, he reported to USS Lake Erie (CG 70) , participating in theater ballistic missile defense testing in the South Pacific. In September 2002, he was assigned to the United States Naval Academy.

In October 2005, he transferred to First Marine Division, where he deployed with Third Battalion, Fifth Marines to Al Anbar Province, Iraq, in support of OIF 05-7.1. He was then reassigned as Regimental Chaplain, Eleventh Marines. He was again reassigned as Deputy Division Chaplain and again reassigned as Division Chaplain, providing supervision, training and assigning for thirty chaplains of various faith groups.

His follow-on assignment was to U.S. Marine Corps Forces Command and Deputy Command Chaplain in January 2009 in Norfolk, Virginia where he oversaw training and policy for over one hundred chaplains. In January 2012 he was assigned to Naval Station, Guantanamo Bay Cuba, overseeing, providing for and facilitating ministry for thirteen different faith groups. He reported to the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut in June 2013 as Command Chaplain for the Corps of Cadets, faculty, and staff.

In addition to his unit and service awards, Chaplain Dickens’ personal awards include the Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal (gold star in lieu of third award), the Navy Commendation Medal (gold star in lieu of third award), the Navy Achievement Medal (with one gold star), and the Coast Guard Achievement Medal. He is designated to wear the Fleet Marine Force Qualification Officer insignia.

in 2015, he was selected as the recipient of the Navy Chaplain Corps’ peer nomination Craven Senior Leadership Award, the Navy’s highest award for outstanding service in the Chaplain Corps.

Reverend Dickens retired from the Navy at the rank of captain in 2016 and moved to Texas with his wife, the Reverend Kathy Clark-Dickens. in 2018 he authored his first novel, Deployment of a Darkhorse.