Since Tamara Shelton’s resignation in mid-November, AU has been without a campus pastor. Although the search for a new campus pastor began months ago, it remains ongoing.
According to Chris Luekenga, dean of students, the process of searching started in November.
“The work began with a review of the position: a minor rewrite of the job description to better reflect the current need and posting of the position,” he said. “We will begin to review applications the week of Jan. 20 and design a timeline for interviews after that.”
Although the administration hopes to fill the position sometime this semester, Luekenga explained that this hope is not a guarantee.
“There isn’t a firm timeline as this is a vital position for the campus and we want to make sure we have the best fit for the position,” he said. “Our hope is that we could have someone in place around the first of March. I will give an update in Chapel on Jan. 23. While it seems that this search is taking a long time, we are committed to hiring the person that we think will be the best fit and provide the best pastoral care for the University.”
Luekenga explained that there are currently 16 applications for the position, and the applicants are a mix of both age and gender.
According to President John Pistole, the process for these applicants was casual at first.
“We started the informal process right away,” he said. “It has become more formalized in the time since then, and that’s what Chris Luekenga is heading up now. It was obviously delayed over the holidays with people being out but it’s back on track now.”
Pistole explained that the search team that is being formed will have their first official meeting next week.
“They will do a vetting process that will narrow it down to a handful of finalists with the idea of having somebody’s name selected,” he said. “Hopefully they will be able to report by the end of next month.”
According to Pistole, the applicants for the position are promising.
“I’ve seen the names of the candidates and there are some outstanding people,” he said. “I’m glad that I’m not on the search team to say how they’re going to vet them because the applicants I know are excellent.”
Pistole explained that each of the candidates is special in what they have to offer campus.
“They all bring their own unique set of talents, abilities and calling in terms of how they can be a disciple of Jesus,” he said. “I’m looking forward to their recommendations and getting that person on board so they can get involved in a way that I think a campus pastor should.”
According to Pistole, Becca Palmer has been taking on some of the roles of campus pastor while the search continues.
“I appreciate what Becca Palmer has done in terms of helping with chapel and doing a number of things, not as the campus pastor, but in filling in,” he said. “She’s done a really good job.”