A child of the both the Great Depression and World War II, Lynn “Joy” Gigg was no stranger to hardship. But through her loss, God shaped her into a deeply compassionate and servant-hearted follower of Christ.
When Eva and Thomas Gigg had a new baby in 1924, they were delighted to learn she was a girl. They named their sixth child and first daughter Lynn, and raised their family in Sydney’s inner suburb of Annandale.
A child of both the Great Depression and World War II, Lynn experienced the hardship and loss typical of those periods in Australia’s history. The deepest grief to touch her family was the loss of her brother Charles, affectionately known as “Chicka”, who died in Changi Prisoner of War camp. But the family did not learn of his death until long after it had occurred, leaving them unsure of his fate for most of the war.
Such difficulties shaped Lynn’s character, developing in her a compassion for the vulnerable and grieving, as well as an appreciation for family and friendship. So much so that in the early 1950s, Lynn became a student at Deaconess House and dedicated her life to serving Jesus.
After her ordination, she worked in the parishes of Newtown, Yagoona and Campsie, but for over 30 years, she lived in Redfern with fellow deaconess Jean Standfield. During her parish work, Lynn taught scripture at the local schools and Rev Dr David Tyndall, former ARV Senior Chaplain, was one of her students.
“She had all the boys scared stiff, but she was a great example to me, as a courageous person who stood firm for the Gospel in an unfriendly environment,” Rev. Tyndall said. “Lynn was prepared to take on high school boys for the opportunity to tell them how to get to heaven.”
The school boys were not alone in their respect for Lynn. Some people in Lynn’s life said they were intimidated when they first encountered her because she was forthright and honest, speaking what she thought. Deaconess Patsy Dahl said that people quickly saw these characteristics as virtues when they experienced Lynn’s love and compassion for others.
Lynn was also bold and fearless. Jean recalled Lynn once leaving their flat to admonish a stranger who she had overheard threatening his mother. Despite being 5’10’’and not knowing the man, she approached him and informed him that his behaviour was unacceptable, and demanded he apologise to his mother, which he did immediately.
After finishing parish work, Lynn served for 20 years as a hospital chaplain in Canterbury-Bankstown hospital, Westmead hospital and St Vincent’s hospital. She adored this work, and was able to engage with patients who often did not respond to anyone else. Although her role was demanding, and included being called into the hospital at any hour of the night, she delighted in the work God gave her to do.
Lynn was also generous with the little she had, and her nephews and nieces still recall how their aunt never forgot a birthday. She always sent a card and cheque, and would sing to them over the phone. Her niece Dianna also remembers her bringing butterscotch and hankies to the children when she came over for dinner, and always making them pause their play so that she could take photos of them. “It bothered us as children,” Dianne said “But As a result of Aunty Joy’s passion for photography, the family now has a wonderful pictorial record of our lives.”
Upon her retirement, Lynn moved with Jean into Hopetown Village in 1985, where she lived for the last 30 years of her life, still serving as Honorary Deaconess at St Andrew’s Cathedral despite her ‘official’ retirement. She preached, performed baptisms, led services and offered ongoing pastoral care.
Lynn outlived all of her siblings, but did not shy away from her grief in her old age. She missed them, and often wept for those who died before her. Lynn passed away on 11th March, 2015 at the age of 90. Her niece Dianne said her aunt’s “heart and generosity knew no bounds.” This was embodied in the way she worked steadily to bless others and serve them faithfully to share Christ’s love with them.
By Hayley Lukabyo