During this past year, I have been thinking a lot about the relationship between questions, doubt, and hope. It has certainly been a year full of questions and uncertainty but I at the most unexpected times, I have also been surprised by hope. I think these three are partners in our growth process.
Sometimes we hear it taught and preached that we should not doubt, and we should not question; we should simply trust and believe. Honestly, I find many problems with that approach to faith. Usually when someone takes this approach, they are asking me to trust and believe, not in God, but in their understanding or concept of God. When I run into people who possess an absolute certainty about who God is and how God works, I find it wise to approach with a healthy skepticism. Claiming to have all the answers about faith seems to be the opposite of trusting in a God of Mystery. In Isaiah 55:8-9, God says to the prophet Isaiah: “My thoughts are not your thoughts, my ways are not your ways….As high as the heavens are above the earth, so my ways are beyond your ways, and my thoughts are beyond your thoughts.” It is easy to create God in our own image, but in this verse humility is encouraged before the mystery of God. Continue reading Doubt, Questions, and Hope →
(If you haven’t read Part 1 click here before continuing on.)
Rev. Loretta Reynolds
Acquiring 17 primary labor positions was somewhat of a miracle so we knew we had to make the very best of the gifts we had been given. In the fall of 1998, I was hired to work as a bridge between the Campus Christian Center and the Collegium (Residence Life professionals) and assumed the position of Student Chaplain supervisor upon Rev. Lee’s retirement. Graciously, Rev. Lee shared the materials he had used for training. I am so thankful I didn’t have to start from scratch! The new primary job position was supported by the Campus Christian Center budget and while I was designated as the labor supervisor, the Student Chaplains also worked as Residence Assistants (RAs). This meant they received training from the CCC and Residence Life, alternated between the 2 departments for labor meetings, and also reported to their Collegium member. We had to figure out how this shared position would work so we started with 9 Student Chaplain/RAs the first year. Through trial and error, patience, and shared effort, within 3 years we worked up to the full 17-member team, with a Student Chaplain in every residence hall! Continue reading The Story of the Student Chaplain Program Continues… →
I am proud of the work of the Campus Christian Center on so many levels. But, among the best things we do is the Student Chaplain Program. These dedicated students work all over campus providing spiritual programs, pastoral care, peer counseling, interfaith education and conversation. They plan and participate in weekly chapel services and contribute to College ceremonies. Often the services they provide are in the background as they quietly attend to student needs and build bridges for students to access the professional assistance they may need to succeed in college. The work they, and their supervisors, do may go unnoticed so I want to take this opportunity to tell a story about this pretty amazing program. As I began to do research for this blog, I found that the conception of this program goes much farther back than I knew. So, let’s start at the very beginning…
Continue reading The Student Chaplain Program: In the Beginning… →
Rev. Loretta Reynolds
The last 5 weeks have been…strange. Classes, meetings, grading, conferences, and worship services are virtual—reaching out to connect with others from our kitchen tables, basements, and bedroom make-shift offices. In the last few weeks, we have experienced the grief of unfulfilled dreams of graduation celebrations, being geographically separated from friends, losing the personal interaction of the classroom, and many have had to grieve the loss of a loved one without the usual comforting rituals. As unusual as things have been in the past few weeks, life has a way of also continuing to remind us of beauty—babies have been born, couples have gotten married, spring flowers have graced us with a riot of color, and lessons have been learned. Doing things differently has encouraged us to learn new skills, has reminded us to appreciate simple freedoms like buying groceries and sitting down in a restaurant, and we are being given the opportunity to apply Jesus’ instruction to love our neighbor by going the second mile (or in this case, by staying at home!).
These weeks of doing things differently gives us an opportunity to discern how our spiritual practices can help us learn and grow while we are living and working in this strange land. Regardless of your religion or if you have no religious tradition, one spiritual tool that is available to all is the labyrinth. Continue reading The Berea College Labyrinth →
Rev. Loretta Reynolds
Dear Berea College Community,
At the beginning of this New Year and new decade (ok, I know there is some debate about that!), the staff at the Campus Christian Center would like to try something new. We are starting a monthly blog! Each month, one of our College Chaplains will share what we are thinking. We hope you will find it helpful, perhaps even inspirational. And, we would like your feedback.
I have to admit, this is my first foray into blogging so I enter with both excitement and trepidation! But here are a few things I have been thinking about as we enter 2020.
I’m worried….about climate change, mass incarceration, the threat of war, the treatment of immigrants and what that says about the condition of the soul of our county. I am concerned about the instability of our political situation, the destruction of our coral reefs and sea animals, what will happen in the election no matter who wins, and I’m worried about all of us who find it easy to fall into despair at the enormity of it all. I find myself looking around for a prophet. Someone who will come up with a clear plan and tell me what to do.
Traditional, stereotypical prophets, usually do have a clear plan but often it is a plan that most of us do not want to follow. I don’t think John and Matilda Fee and the other founders of Berea College saw themselves as prophets. Well, maybe they did, but I think they were just determined to act on what they believed, to their very core, to be right. And yet, it was in the very living out of the call to promote justice and equality that they became what we recognize now as prophets.
Continue reading The Work of a Prophet →