By Brielle Braxton-Young; The Whetstone
Q: When did you first start working at Wesley College?
A: I started here January of 2016
Q: As chaplain, what is your goal for the school?
A: Normally, it would be to bring people to Christ, but in a very diverse school, my goal is to be a pastoral presence among the students.
Q: What does a pastoral presence mean?
A: In a spiritual sense, it would be what a pastor does for someone in the congregation. It’s whatever people need emotionally, spiritualty, physically.
Q: What things or services do you offer to students?
A: I offer students spiritual counseling, fellowship, nutrition, prayers, guidance, love and comfort in a sacred space.
Q: What do you mean by fellowship?
A: A New Testament term for fellowship of believers, but we also include non-believers here.
Q: When you say sacred space, what are you referring to and what does it mean?
A: My office, and sacred space meaning anything can be discussed. There is no judgment and there is no incorporation of administration or other people. You can be anything you want to be in here, and usually you are.
Q: Where did you go to college and what did you study?
A: I went to four-year college Centenary University in Hackettstown, N.J. Then I went to Drew University in Madison, N.J., which is a theological school, for three years. Lastly, I attended United Lutheran Seminary in Philadelphia for one year.
Q: What types of congregations did you serve?
A: Native American, Latino, African, African-American, Caucasian
Q: What qualities would you say fit a chaplain?
A: You really have to have patience. But outside of that, friendship, friendliness, care and theological stability, because you can’t be all over the place theologically or you go off the track a lot.
Q: What does it mean to be theologically stable?
A: Somebody who knows what they believe in. It doesn’t necessarily have to be Orthodox or correct in an orthodox matter, but just that they are stable enough to know what they believe in. If you tell me that you believe that Satan is alive and well, my question to you would be, Well, what does he do for a living? You can’t say I don’t know or I’ve never seen him. Why do you believe in him in the first place?
Q: Where were you before coming to Wesley?
A: I served at three congregations in Cheswold, Del.
Q: Describe your typical work day
A: Is there a typical work day here? Um, getting breakfast, but really opening the door and then anything can happen from there. But I do have certain programs that I have to make sure function.
Q: What are those programs?
A: They consist of the food bank, community outreach – not just outreach in the Wesley community but outreach in this community – and spiritual outreach to different congregations.
Q: How would you describe spiritual and community outreach?
A: In narrow sense, it would be being a Christian pastor who reaches out to others to bring them to Christ. In a broader sense, it would be that people should feel that they could come to me with their difficulties no matter what faith they believe in. We could have mature or immature discussions but either way you are still accepted.
Q: What do you do in your spare time?
A: I like to watch “Downton Abbey,” take care of Tucker, my yellow lab, and shopping. My favorite stores to shop are Boscov’s and QVC. I just ordered boots from QVC. They’re little short boots but they are the kind with lots of cushioning.
Q: What is one thing about your job that you love doing?
A: Talking to the students, or anyone who comes in the office. I really love it!
Q: What is the craziest thing that has happened while your doors were opened?
A: Students will come in and say I don’t live on campus, they’ll take two or three cookies or bagels, and I’ll ask them do they need food, and they’ll say they don’t have food in their room, or in their house. They might live at home, they might not and suddenly I have to find a place for them to stay, maybe get them clothes, maybe just talk them off the ledge.
Q: What is your most difficult challenge as a chaplain?
A: Oh that’s interesting! Not going crazy? Sitting still, I guess, is the hardest thing, and paperwork. I think everyone would agree with me on that. It drives me nuts because I get a lot of it and that’s why I have six student workers to help me out.