On the first of July I will officially gain four new titles: assistant chaplain, and visiting assistant professor of religion, at Bryn Athyn College of the New Church; religion teacher at Academy of the New Church Secondary Schools; and pastor for young adults for the General Church of the New Jerusalem (my denomination). Here’s a brief rundown of all my jobs:
Assistant Chaplain, Bryn Athyn College
For this one, I have an official job description:
The Bryn Athyn College assistant chaplain serves as a spiritual leader on campus with responsibilities for helping the chaplain to promote spiritual consciousness among students, faculty and administrators in accordance with the teachings of the New Church. The programs under the chaplain’s supervision are designed to provide an atmosphere in which spiritual inquiry may be fearlessly pursued, moral life religiously practiced, and charitable actions generously performed.
Practically speaking, I’ll be working with the new head chaplain Rev. Grant Schnarr to organize chapel services, provide pastoral counseling, introduce prospective students and faculty to the New Church faith, and generally care for the spiritual life of the college. Even more specifically, I’ll be the primary organizer for Wednesday morning traditional chapel and Friday morning praise and testimony chapel.
Visiting Assistant Professor of Religion, Bryn Athyn College
I still think they could have thrown in more adjectives (Visiting Assistant Junior First-Year Newbie Professor of Religion has a nice ring to it), but I suppose I can live with just “visiting assistant.” This is a one-year appointment to teach two sections of Religion 101, the introductory course in New Church theology for students brand new to Swedenborgianism.
Religion Teacher, Academy of the New ChurchAt the Academy of the New Church high school, I’ll be teaching the book Heaven and Hell to sophomore boys. Teaching sophomore boys might sound to some like the latter part of that book’s title, but I actually love this age, and I’m looking forward to the challenge.
Pastor for Young Adults, General Church of the New Jerusalem
This is a new position, and we’re all still figuring out exactly what it will look like. There’s a sense that young adults (roughly age 18-35), and particularly single young adults, have been somewhat neglected in our school-and-family-focused denomination, and the administration wants to address that problem. My big hope here is to help congregations find ways to integrate young adults more fully, and to help young adults find ways to connect to congregations. Even for young adults who don’t live close enough to attend a weekly service at any New Church congregation, there’s something valuable in connecting to other New Church people within a larger region. My hope is to facilitate that kind of connection, rather than provide everything myself from the central offices – I’ve joked that my goal for this particular job is to do as little as possible myself.
Another part of this dovetails with my roles at Bryn Athyn College, since college students fall under the “young adults” umbrella. While working at Bryn Athyn College I hope to learn more about what New Church students at other colleges need, and find ways to meet those needs. If you happen to be a college student or other young adult, or happen to know any, feel free to get in touch and give me ideas. (See? Outsourcing this work wherever I can.)
Besides those four official jobs, I’ll of course be busy at home chasing after our kids (I don’t post much on this blog about family life, but if you’re curious, my wife Anne Grace and I keep a family blog).
And I’ll also be blogging. The last month has been very busy with moving into our new house, and blogging has been light, but going forward I intend to post here at least once a week. As I figure out all my new jobs I’m sure there will be times when the blog takes a back seat, but I’ll try to post something even if it’s not particularly deep or elucidating.