University Church Searches for New Chaplain

Megan Leo, Maroon-News Staff

After several months of careful consideration, Colgate’s University Church is hoping to hire a full-time chaplain. Senior Jenna Lilly is currently a co-president of University Church (UC) and is serving as the student representative on a six-person committee tasked with filling the position. She explained the committee’s decision to return to a full-time Protestant chaplain.

We actually used to have a full-time position many years ago. When there was a recession, the school … cut back in some areas, and one of them was a full-time person for the Protestant community, and so it [became] a half-time position at that point. The person that we had as full-time then, they moved on to a different school and it became a half-time position. Since about 2008 or 2009 now it’s been like that. Now that we want to have the position go to full-time, we have to go through the whole process even if we were to just promote someone from within the school. We have to go through the whole H.R. [Human Resources] process of opening it to a national search,” Lilly said.

Of the 25 candidates initially considered, the committee has invited three candidates to come to Colgate and interact with the current University Church congregation.

“We’ve narrowed it down to our three candidates who we want to have for on-campus interviews, so those will be the chances when they’re on campus for the students to meet them,” Lilly said.

Lilly discussed how University Church is looking to use student input in deciding who should be hired for the chaplain position.

“Now that it’s been narrowed down, we are relying more on the student opinions. A month or so ago I made surveys for people to fill out that said ‘List three experiences, three qualities and three skills that you think our chaplain should have, say what you think their leadership style should look like, what their preaching style should look like, and leave any other comments.’ From the feedback I got from members and deacons and other people, I compiled that. The committee has started to take that more into consideration now that we’re coming down to the end of it,” Lilly said.

Ultimately, the committee is aiming to come to a decision before classes let out for the summer so that the first-choice candidate will have the opportunity to meet his or her new congregation.

Senior Annie Hoefler and first-year Alex Taylor are both deacons at University Church, and they look forward to the opportunities provided by having a full-time chaplain.

“In my four years serving on the leadership for University Church, I have seen it transform from a group of about 20 students into a family of 50 individuals worshiping together every Sunday. That increase was largely student driven, and while we have received a lot of support from our current chaplain, a full time position will allow UC members to grow spiritually and to more fully live out our faith on campus. I am really excited to see how the UC community continues to develop and make a more visible impact in the next few years!” Hoefler said.

“Having a full-time chaplain will strengthen the Protestant community and will be an important spiritual resource for the Colgate community as a whole,” Taylor said.