Wilson Answers Chaplaincy Call From Del.

June 12, 1991|By Amy L. Miller | Amy L. Miller,Staff writer

WESTMINISTER — WESTMINSTER -- When the Rev. Laura Lee C. Wilson began ministering four years ago, she felt drawn to helping young people.

That calling now will become a full-time vocation as she leaves Carroll County to become the executive director of the Wesley Foundation at the University of Delaware in Newark.

"I have had a sense of calling toward chaplaincy ever since I heard God's call into the ministry," she said. "Through my experience atWestern Maryland (College) as coordinator of religious life, that feeling I had became stronger and stronger."

Following through on that desire, Wilson said she applied to several campus ministry programs. The University of Delaware was the first to offer her a job.

"Through my personal prayers, I had asked God to send me where my talents could be used the best," she said. "That's why when the Universityof Delaware came through as the first concrete offer, I took it as an answer to prayer."

At Delaware, Wilson will be a full-time campus minister. Her WMC work was a "third-time" position; she was also pastor to the United Methodist congregations of Shiloh in Hampstead andDover in Reisterstown, Baltimore County.

"Her duties (at WMC) included conducting a number of services during the year for the collegecommunity," said Phil Sayre, WMC's dean of student affairs. "They were ecumenical in nature, so they had to recognize various religious faiths."

Wilson also was responsible for serving as adviser to and coordinating communication among the campus religious groups: Catholic Campus Ministry, Ecumenical Chapel Committee, Jewish Student Union,Christian Fellowship, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Bahai's, ZenBuddhists and the DoJo Zen group.

"(Wilson) was particularly goodat letting students know that she valued different belief systems," Sayre said. "Because of her presence for the past four years, that diversity was encouraged and there's more spiritual activity taking place on this campus."

As a chaplain at Delaware, Wilson will be one of several campus ministers and primarily will serve Methodist students at Sunday morning prayer groups and Sunday evening services, she said.

Her responsibilities also include speaking to different churches in the area about campus ministries and how that fits into the Wesleyan tradition of higher education.

"I was always the public 'pray-er' for the public occasions that took place -- convocations, commencements, baccalaureates," she said. "At the University of Delaware,there is a moment of silence at these occasions instead of a prayer being offered."

However, the foundation has asked her to make an ecumenical effort to reach out to students of other faiths. Wilson said she has no concrete plans yet on how to reach that goal.

"A campus ministry is a ministry of presence," she said. "It is the sacred in the midst of a secular institution and out of that presence comes an awareness of a just community where people are accepted and loved for who they are.

"There's no blueprint of how you get students involved, just as there is no blueprint for getting people involved in church. It's up to the Spirit to let it happen."

Similar to her hiring arrangement here, Wilson is not employed by the University of Delaware, but by the Wesley Foundation -- a group that provides United Methodist ministries on college campuses.

At WMC, she was employed by the United Methodist conference in Baltimore.

Although Wilson said she looks forward to the challenges of her new job, she said she will miss some of the responsibilities of an individual parish.

"Iwill miss the small children for the children's sermons andz performing the act of holy baptism bringing a child into the Christian faith," she said. "Churches have a type of connectedness with families that is very special, and I will miss that very much.

"But now, it's time for this part of my life to close and a new chapter to begin."

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