In the late spring our campus minister resigned to take a new call. With the timing of everything we knew we would not be able to have a new campus minister in place by the time the new school year started, but we were ready for the challenge. The Board of Directors stepped up to the plate and began meeting right away to form a plan. Our campus minister was leaving in June and the board asked me to serve as the Interim Executive Director beginning June 1st. I happily stepped up, rolled up my sleeves and got to work!
The Board of Directors formed a Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) right away consisting of 5 board members and 4 active UKirk students. If you have ever served on a PNC or have been part of a Presbyterian church looking for a new minister, then you understand that this is not a quick process. There is a lot of discernment that happens, multiple meetings and many interviews that go into this process.
Knowing how long the process takes and how important this ministry is, I got to work starting June 1st to make sure our students didn’t feel like they were missing out on anything without a campus minister. Over the summer, I met with our worship intern, Kyla, every week to begin planning our fall semester programs. We got all the Wednesday UWorship dates written down and started emailing pastors from our Presbytery to ask if they would be willing to preach for us. We thought it would be a few days before we began getting responses but we got a couple of yeses that very first day! Pastors were stepping up to help us out in so many ways. Before June was over we had ALL of our Wednesday UWorships scheduled and ALL of our Mondays scheduled for our Seminary Light program, it was magical! Pastors were excited to step up and help in any way they could. It was really encouraging and hopeful.
We are now half way through the fall semester and things are going great! Our interns are working hard, planning events for both UKirk and UPerk and preparing for our weekly UWorship, lining up mission opportunities for our students and tending to the garden. We have a big UPerk event coming up, Live Action Clue, that two of our interns have worked very hard on. We are going to the Pumpkin Patch and Corn Maze as a group and having our annual Halloween party with pumpkin carving and cookie decorating. The interns have been committed to being in the office for regular office hours in order to help me with day to day activities of UKirk and UPerk. Our interns have also worked to form this year’s Student Leadership Board (SLB) which they serve as leadership for. The SLB meets once a month to plan events, evaluate how well UWorship is being received by the larger community and work together to make sure everyone feels welcome and safe here at UKirk UTK.
I have said this so many times I’ve lost count, but I am so incredibly grateful to work here at UKirk UTK. The fact that I get to work at a place that feels like home (I mean literally, I used to live upstairs) with people that feel like family is such a blessing. This semester could have easily been a stressful one for me but it has been far from it. With the support of the board, churches, pastors, students and of course my wonderful wife it has gone so smoothly and I am extremely thankful!
In early October, the PNC offered Rachel Penmore the position of Campus Minister/Executive Director and she accepted! She met with the Committee on Ministry earlier this month and will go before Presbytery in November.