The chapel department, in order to better minister to women on campus, is hiring a new Chaplain Associate for Discipleship who will work under Chaplain Grant Lowe, according to a job description posted to Covenant’s website last week.
The Presbyterian Church in America’s Women in Ministry committee, which annually presents a “Love Gift” to an arm of the PCA, has chosen the new position as the recipient of their 2018 Love Gift, and will initially fund the salary of the hiree.
“Finally, the hiring of a female in the chapel department as Coordinator of Discipleship is creeping closer to becoming a reality,” said Lowe in a February 17 report to the Board of Trustees. “I covet your prayers for God’s provision of the right person, and for in-house preparation for her arrival.”
Lowe expects to receive several dozen applications for the job, which is scheduled to start at the beginning of the 2017-18 school year, and hopes to hire somebody by July.
According to the job description, dated March 28, the potential hiree will be responsible for “helping [the department] to set and implement the vision for how we care for the spiritual health, growth and discipleship of Covenant College Students.” Among the requirements, candidates must demonstrate an “active and Reformed Christian commitment to Jesus Christ” and be able to serve as a “leader and facilitator of spiritual development for the campus.”
The department conceived the idea of a new position after Christiana Fitzpatrick left the chapel department to start the global education department at the beginning of the 2014-15 school year, according to Chaplain Grant Lowe. “I’m really excited about this position,” he said last week.
After Fitzpatrick’s departure, the Board of Trustees asked Lowe if he needed a woman in the department. Lowe, who was new to the college at the time, asked for a year to see how things would go without Fitzpatrick. After that year, he says he was “thoroughly convinced that yes, we need a woman in the chapel department.” They created the new position not only to bring a woman into the department, he says, but also to “have a sort of partner in the chapel department, and someone who will specifically meet with, counsel, and mentor female students.”
Because counseling is not the taboo that it once was, Lowe says that the department gradually realized there was a gap in specific, intentional ministry to women on campus. “We work hard to minister to students well,” he says. This has allowed students to be more open and seek out vulnerability.
The position will be multifaceted; there will be elements of individual relationship building through mentoring, counseling, and discipleship, but the person will also have to be a strategic thinker who can visualize how to minister to women on campus well.
The job title and position description intentionally do not imply that the person will minister exclusively to women—the hiree will instead focus on developing the chapel department’s capacity to serve the female students, while also dedicating time to ministry with male students.
The funds to initially support this new position have been given by the PCA’s Women in Ministry committee, who annually awards gifts to different arms of the PCA. Covenant’s turn to receive the gift has fallen in line with the 2017-18 school year. Administration submitted a proposal outlining various options for the gift, and after reviewing the options, the Women in Ministry committee chose to fund the Chaplain Associate for Discipleship.
As part of the funding process, Covenant sent representatives—including staff and students—to the Women in Ministry annual conference in Atlanta last semester to present the project. The chapel department, in collaboration with the marketing department, put together a multimedia presentation that included video interviews of female students discussing their experiences ministering to female peers at Covenant and describing their desire to see the new position filled.
“In so many ways I’m here to learn how to be a better follower of Jesus outside of Covenant,” says sophomore Tindol Pate in one video. Being a Resident Assistant has helped prepare her to do this, as she is able to pour into and walk alongside the other students on her hall. She said that she believes hiring an Associate Chaplain who can focus on discipling female students will enhance Covenant’s capability to prepare students for life after college.
The women who attended the conference will return to their home churches and fundraise for the position over the next year, during which Covenant will strategically release more student videos to these churches, an idea Lowe attributes to David Peterson in the marketing department.
Lowe says that they intend the position to be proactive instead of reactive. “We see a way to make ministry on campus even stronger,” Lowe said of the Board of Trustees’ mentality. “There’s a felt need. The impact is going to be significantly larger than what we’re expecting,”
The job is scheduled to start in the fall semester, and Lowe hopes to hire somebody by July, before which he expects to receive many dozens of applications.