A decade ago, the Baylor chaplain’s office began placing students from Baylor’s George W. Truett Theological Seminary into residence halls to serve as “resident chaplains” — pastors-in-training who are available 24/7 to talk about not just theology but personal struggles, relationship issues, and all the other ups and downs that 18- to 22-year-olds can experience.
Today, each of Baylor’s 12 residence halls includes a resident chaplain who is given a stipend and an apartment in the hall. In turn, the seminary students serve that hall’s students in a role somewhere between pastor, parent, friend and older sibling. That may mean leading Bible studies, talking faith over coffee, or helping students deal with tragedy, be it a failing grade, broken relationship or loss of a loved one.
“The resident chaplain program is, I think, one of the most important things that Baylor has done in the last 10 years in terms of spiritual formation,” said Brett Gibson, BA ’02, MDiv ’09, a resident chaplain from 2006-09, in a 2008 Baylor Magazine article. “Baylor is wanting to maintain that Christian identity, and I think placing resident chaplains in these residence halls really gives them a voice in helping give them the opportunity to have those conversations about what it means to be not just a really good doctor, but what it means to be a doctor who follows Christ, or what it means to be a lawyer who follows Christ. How can I put those things together? I think the resident chaplain program and what we are freed to be able to do in that position fosters that kind of conversation that wouldn’t be happening otherwise.”
Sic ’em, resident chaplains!