This past Sunday I experienced an honor and a blessing. Because of my ordination, I not only participated in the Installation Service of D&E’s new Benfield-Vick Chaplain, I also served as the celebrant for the Sacrament of Holy Communion along with the pastor of Davis Memorial Presbyterian Church and our chaplain. As a college founded, and still proudly affiliated, with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), our church-relatedness influences the values of this College and the educational experience of our students.
The Rev. Laura Brekke joined us in July after serving as a chaplain at Santa Clara University in California. Raised in the Atlanta area, she felt a strong calling to return to Appalachia and remain engaged in a collegiate community. For an ordained Presbyterian pastor, D&E provided an ideal opportunity for sharing her gifts and graces. While not raised in a household of faith, Laura’s personal spiritual journey was sparked during her years in college. Instrumental in that enlightenment was her college chaplain.
The Rev. Brekke has stated that students should be met “where they are” and then be encouraged to explore spirituality in an atmosphere of nurture and acceptance. Among her tasks are to explore avenues to engage our students in meaningful and authentic ways with the wider community, assisting them along their vocational journeys as they seek out that which gives meaning to life. Her calling is a sacred and worthy one.
Campus ministry at Davis & Elkins College is inherent within the very fabric of this institution. At the heart of our educational experience is the directive to engage and inspire students to discover the purpose of their lives. Going far beyond the teaching of skills for meaningful employment, the educational experience here involves the whole person including mind, body and spirit. The freshman who sets foot on these sacred grounds becomes a vastly more mature, determined and purpose-led individual by the time he or she graduates from D&E.
Many years ago, First Presbyterian Church in Charleston established an endowment to support the chaplaincy on this campus. Named for two of its pastors who were also members of the Board of Trustees at D&E, the Benfield-Vick Chaplain serves in a long line of men and women of faith who have guided and influenced students, faculty and staff of this College for generations.
Davis & Elkins College was honored to have the pastor of First Presbyterian, the Rev. Dr. Bill McCoy, to preach for the Installation Service. Dr. McCoy focused on the alignment of knowledge and wisdom to reach a “point of resonance.” Our campus ministry, represented by the centrality of Robbins Memorial Chapel on our campus, represents wisdom as a place where God can lead and teach us.
Our students, like all of us, come from myriad places and experiences that influence and shape their spiritual beliefs. While on this campus, they are encouraged to ask the big and difficult questions of life and faith. During the asking, exploring, struggling and resolving of these questions, growth and maturity result. That is why Davis & Elkins College is a blessed place.
The journey continues…