By Stori Long
One of the ways Baylor meets the spiritual needs of students is by assigning chaplains, who are also George W. Truett Seminary students, to each residence hall.
“Chaplaincy meets Baylor’s desire to have a spiritual presence in each hall,” said Jamie McCallum, chaplain at North Russell Residence Hall. “We are there to provide pastoral care and an open door, and to facilitate spiritual growth in the students.”
One of the aspects that makes the chaplain system effective is that chaplains actually live in the dorms, making them more available to students.
“We are there to celebrate joys and be there when it’s hard,” said Ashley Mangrum, co-chaplain of North Village Residence Hall. “It takes ministry to a different level. It helps you think different about how you love your community.”
For chaplains, connecting students in the dorms is important. One of the ways chaplains achieve this is through the facilitation of small groups, McCallum said.
“Students want to connect, have community and explore their faith,” McCallum said. “Sometimes it can be hard for freshmen who are still trying to find a church. So these small groups help them get into groups where they can feel safe.”
Mangrum said she especially wants to encourage freshmen to forge a relationship with their chaplain.
“College was such an important time for me,” Mangrum said. “It helped shape my identity and the person I am, and I remember really wanting to look to someone a little older and wiser. We really need people who are willing to shepherd us in times like that.”
Whether giving spiritual advice, offering a shoulder to cry on or just having lunch, chaplains want to be involved in all areas of student life.
“We are there for [students] and really enjoy spending time with them,” McCallum said. “Some students have a misconception that they can only go to their chaplain when their life is in shambles. We are there whether students are in the midst of joy or sadness, and whether they know it or not there will come a time when they will need a shoulder to lean on and someone to be there for them.”
Seattle senior Alyssa DeMoss agrees that residents should utilize their chaplains.
“Anytime you need them day or night they are there,” DeMoss said. “I loved and I really appreciated their willingness to engage me and just be there for me when I needed them.”
Terra Lemeron, chaplain in Collins Residence Hall, said the role of a chaplain goes beyond the scope of a normal job. It helps that chaplains often serve for at least a couple of years, which allows them time to forge close bonds with residence and to grow from year to year.
“We care a lot,” Lemeron said. “We aren’t just there to do a job; we sincerely want to do it and we sincerely want to be there for our residents. It’s genuine care and we are there to put our whole attention on students.”
While chaplains receive payment for their services, for those who do it, it’s not just about the money. Lemeron said watching students grow is one of the greatest pleasures she gets from her job.
“I love sitting down and watching students ask the hard questions and struggle with the hard questions,” Lemeron said.
“I get to watch freshman girls grow from being quiet, nervous freshmen into confident women and to be there for them while it’s happening.”
One of the primary things chaplains want students to know is simply that their chaplains are ready to help, Lemeron said.
“A lot of students don’t want to bother us and I can say, for any chaplain, that is exactly what we want,” Lemeron said. “Please, bother your chaplains. Don’t be shy, don’t be scared. We aren’t here to be disciplinarians; we are here to love on our residents.”