Cathy Stoner became Goshen College’s campus pastor in September. Since then, she’s proved to be anything but your average pastor.Stoner loves bike rides, dumpster diving and funk music. She also enjoys running with her dog and fixing bikes.
Stoner uses her runs and bike rides as opportunities to scavenge thrown-away items, like the red boots she wore to speak in chapel one Wednesday last semester.
One of Stoner’s most treasured “found items” is a bicycle she saved from the side of the road.
“I watched it rusting away over the course of 15 or 20 years in someone’s yard,” Stoner said. “One day, it was set out with the garbage, and I said, ‘that’s my bike. A new chain and a new seat are all it will take to get that vintage ride on the road!’”
Dumpster diving is Stoner’s way of doing her part as an ethical consumer. She believes that people usually throw out materials not because they are useless, but simply because they aren’t wanted anymore.
Music is another passion of Stoner’s, since it allows her to appreciate different cultures and experiences.
“I love anything loud and funky,” she said. The ’60s and ’70s eras are at the top of her list, and some of her favorite artists include Sly and the Family Stone, The Commodores, and Stevie Wonder.
At GC, Stoner shares her love for music with campus through a collaborative playlist.
“There is currently a playlist in the works where students and faculty can share their favorite songs,” Stoner said.
Stoner sees her role as campus pastor as her dream job. Her mission is to ensure that everyone can voice their faith concerns openly as they grapple with the complex aspects of faith.
“Christianity does not have the best historical reputation,” said Stoner, “We need to acknowledge patriarchy, sexism, racism, colonialism (and) nationalism and commit to living alternative good news that is good news for all, not just the powerful and privileged.”
“I am wanting to create space for exploration,” Stoner said, “to encourage people that their doubts belong to the journey, and that faith is a resource we can draw on right in the middle of all the non-churchy things we have going on.”
Stoner’s advice for everyone is to say short prayers of appreciation throughout the day. She likes to do this as she walks around campus. For example, she gives thanks for the squirrels and the sunshine.
Stoner’s enthusiasm can be seen in everything she does. Her trick: “You can use your surroundings to build your appreciation for the creation.”