Jul 25, 2022 • 46M

Episode 108: The Chaplaincy Is Not Your Backup Plan with Jeremy Wilhelmi

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Dennis Sanders
Church and Main is a podcast at the intersection of faith and modern life. Join Pastor Dennis Sanders as he shares the stories of faith interacting with the ever-changing world of the 21st century.
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One of my biggest regrets is not accepting a call to become the college chaplain at a Lutheran college in the Midwest. The college in Illinois was really interested in them, but I wasn’t sure if I wanted the position or not. After a while, the college went with someone else.

Being a college chaplain has to be the coolest job ever, according to Paul Raushenbush. “I spent eight glorious years at Princeton University as associate dean of religious life and the chapel,” he writes in a 2015 essay for the Huffington Post. “I had the privilege of serving students, staff and faculty from every tradition and background. Our office was a magnet for people from every corner of the world with a huge range of beliefs, but all of whom were looking for a place on campus where they could hang out and be themselves.”

Chaplains work in various settings, from colleges to hospitals to businesses and other places. Being a chaplain is a lot of things, but one thing it should not be is a backup plan, writes our guest Jeremy Wilhelmi. "I’m called to be a chaplain. I didn’t settle for this vocation. I am not a chaplain because I couldn’t cut it in the parish. I truly believe the Holy Spirit guided me here." That quote is from the June 2022 edition of Presbyterian Outlook under the headline. “This is not your backup plan – An open letter from a chaplain.” In the article, he tries to misspell the belief among some clergy that being a chaplain is a good place to land if congregational ministry doesn’t work out. “You should not be a chaplain just because you have had a difficult experience in a congregation or need a break from congregational ministry. You should be a chaplain because you are called to be one.”

In this episode, we talk about the chaplaincy in general and about his position in particular. Jeremy is an ordained pastor in Presbyterian Church (USA) and he is the college chaplain at Ozarks University in Arkansas a position he’s held since 2016.