A New Perspective in the Whitworth Chapel

December 15, 2016

 

Students choose Whitworth for many different reasons and for some that reason is the feeling that they are encouraged to grow in their faith on campus and are able to have the resources to do that. The Whitworth Chapel plays a large role in this, acting as home to some of the most influential staff members and campus ministry programs.

“In my job I get to cultivate opportunities for every student at Whitworth to grow with Jesus,” Campus Pastor and Dean of Spiritual Life Forrest Buckner said. Forrest joined the Whitworth faculty in 2014 after completing seminary at Fuller Seminary in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

While living in Colorado, Buckner took seminary classes part-time and also directed high school ministry at a local Presbyterian church. Having competed his undergrad in engineering, Bucker never thought that he would one day become a campus pastor.

Buckner was first introduced to Christ in high school through the Fellowship of Christian Athletes program. It was here that he first got a Bible and was baptized. Buckner took his passion for FCA to college with him, leading a fellowship that was named club of the year at the public university because of its immense growth and passion.

After college, Buckner returned to the church he was baptized at and became the high school ministry director. Here he met his wife Janelle who was volunteering in the middle school ministry. The Buckner family then moved to Scotland for 3 years where Buckner completed a PhD in systematic theology.

“Systematic theology is looking at the whole picture of the Bible as it has been understood throughout the history of the church and what that means,” Buckner said. “I dreaded theology at first, I didn’t think it was very applicable. Then I learned that everyone is a theologian because everyone is thinking about God in one way or another.”

It was in Scotland that Buckner had his “conversion to theology” and is now passionate about applying these things at Whitworth in the chapel.

“Whether it is at chapel or in the dorms, all of these things correspond with the truth and reality of God,” Buckner said. “I want chapel to be a place where every student is welcome and therefore our ministry needs to be theologically thoughtful because that’s what God does and is.”

In addition to holding the title of campus pastor, Buckner also serves as the Dean of Spiritual Life on campus. In this position he serves as a part of the administrative staff and is on President Beck Taylor’s cabinet. He also is a member of the diversity cabinet and is a part of the interview process for new faculty.

“As Dean of Spiritual Life, it is my job to provide a particular lens,” Buckner said. “I think it is neat that I work at a place that has this particular job because it shows how important a Christian mission is to Whitworth.”

In addition to leading chapel services on every Tuesday and Thursday, Buckner also has the opportunity to lead and oversee the campus ministry teams. These include student-led ministries like worship-oriented Hosanna, athletic outreach oriented Awake, and small-group ministry in the dorms.

“We are able to reach out to the corners of campus and provide a place where everyone is truly welcome,” Awake ministry coordinator Daniel Johnson said. “It is not just us; we are a broader family.”

The chapel has also gained two new staff members in addition to Buckner. Jake Chipka and Olivia Eldredge are serving as the Graduate Assistant Ministry Interns. Eldredge serves as the GAMI for Music and Worship while Chipka is serving as the GAMI of Athletics and Outreach Ministry.

“All of our student leaders on campus ministry have been intentional of being together and working together,” Buckner said. “God is being God and we’re going to see it this semester.”

Chapel services are held every Tuesday and Thursday at 11 a.m. in the chapel and Hosanna is held every Tuesday night in the chapel at 9:45 p.m. Awake is also held in the chapel and meets every Wednesday night at 9:30 p.m.

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