Westmont seeks to integrate faith and learning in all its programs, and the campus pastor plays a crucial role in carrying out this mission and cultivating the spiritual development of students. President Gayle D. Beebe and Vice President for Student Life Edee Schulze co-chair a search committee interviewing candidates to replace Campus Pastor Ben Patterson, who announced his retirement in September 2017. The committee, which includes faculty, staff and a student, is interviewing candidates who understand the role of a campus pastor at a liberal arts college, can engage well with students, faculty and staff, will reflect and support Westmont’s Statement of Faith and Community Life Statement, can engage theologically with faculty, and will build relationships with the church community.
“We’ve also been focusing on the needs of students as they journey through their spiritual development through chapel programs and other opportunities from the campus pastor’s office,” Schulze says. “We’ve examined research of Generation Z (people born between 1995 and 2015) that describes what is needed in this era to help students thrive in their spiritual formation. It’s important that our campus pastor be able to relate to this generation but also instruct them in spiritual matters and hold firm to the college’s biblical foundation.”
Since Patterson, the founding pastor of Irvine Presbyterian Church, a former dean of the chapel at Hope College in Michigan, and the author of several books, announced his retirement, chapel has featured short video clips of people sharing how his ministry has inspired them and honoring him for his life and dedication to the Gospel. Several events this spring are also scheduled to celebrate Patterson.
Alumna Samantha Tevis Joiner ’16 has replaced Patterson’s longtime assistant, Colleen Atkinson, who has retired. Tevis Joiner will serve as chapel coordinator for one year to allow the new campus pastor, who will begin in the summer, to shape the team in the campus pastor’s office. It was announced March 9 in chapel that Joel Patterson, director of music and worship and liaison to the Dallas Willard Center, will also be leaving at the end of the semester.
“We’re grateful for Ben’s leadership and impact on the lives of Westmont students, which we know will endure beyond their time at the college,” Schulze says.