Ian Whitley grew up in the south-western Suburbs of Sydney, Australia. After completing his schooling at Narwee Boy’s High (in 1972), he gained a degree in Applied Science with a major in biochemistry and began working in the field of Hospital Pathology, firstly at a small hospital in Sydney (Balmain) and later at Wollongong Hospital (about 100k’s south of Sydney).
During this phase of his life he married Carolyn and they had four children. Ian thought that he would continue to work in a medical lab but God had other plans – which led him back to study, training for the Ministry at Morling College in Sydney. After completing a Bachelor of Theology he was ordained by the Baptist Union of New South Wales in 1990.
While still studying, he was the founding pastor of the Baptist Church at Helensburgh (on the southern edge of Sydney) and after 6 years there accepted a call to the Wellington Church in the Central West of NSW (near Dubbo).
This provided a whole new dynamic ministry in a rural context and his experiences here will be reflected in some of the ponderings on this website. After 6 years there, he was approached to move into a very different sphere – that of military chaplaincy.
The Chaplain, or Padre, as he is usually called, has a unique role to play. He wears the same uniform and shares the same pressures as other members of the ADF, accepting the demands of postings, deployments and the chain of command. Yet his role is not to be trained to kill, but to bring peace and hope to all those situations which ADF members are involved in.
These Padre’s Ponderings were originally written as base wide emails to provide helpful hints on living and coping with the demands of the military lifestyle. They often deal with particular events and trials which Ian was dealing with on the base (here in Australia) and while on deployment. While they may focus on some military issues, they are sure to have relevance for all those trying to make sense of hard times and seeing where God fits in it all.
So what does the Padre do when he is not doing military stuff and writing ponderings? He keeps busy doing a range of things that will at times get mentioned in these ponderings. As part of his fitness program he enjoys walking, particularly out in the Australian bush. With a house on the coast south of Sydney he is also into surfing, and owns a couple of boards, these days riding a 9ft 3inch Malibu.
His experience and qualifications as a hospital scientist has also led him to always be on the lookout for environmental issues and one of his current sidelines is an interest in alternative energy solutions. When he can get away you might find him helping out some of his farmer friends, especially working with sheep in shearing sheds. He does this at no cost to the farmer and so is often paid in kind and comes away with a fine merino fleece as a result! This he then spins on a spinning wheel, (as part of his stress maintenance program) and then weaves it on a small loom to finish off the process. Ian also enjoys making things, and now has a fairly well stocked workshop. In his spare time he likes to read and play with his grandchildren.