Jen Shenk has been selected to take on the role of campus pastor for the remainder of 2023-24 school year. GC community members received the announcement through the communicator on March 24, which was her first day in the position.Following the resignation of Cathy Stoner, student life worked to find someone to fill the role.
“I recalled that Jen had applied for the campus pastor position two years ago,” said Gilberto Pérez Jr., vice president for student life and dean of students.
Pérez also noted that there would be others to guide Shenk in campus ministries activities.
“When I was approached to fill in the rest of the year to help with chapels and hold student listening groups, I was just so excited and so grateful for the opportunity,” she said. “I didn’t even hesitate to say yes because I love Goshen College and what it means to our community.”
Shenk is familiar with the Goshen community and pastoral work. She was a pastor at Kern Road Mennonite Church in South Bend, where she focused specifically on worship and young adult programs.
At this time, she began dedicating more time to classes at Anabaptist Biblical Seminary and felt a nudge to pursue that calling.
Shenk continues to pursue her Master of Divinity as works at GC. She also lives down the street from campus and loves that her new commute is minimal.
There are many things Shenk is looking forward to such as the “opportunity [for] all the potential.” By that, she means, “There is so much diversity on campus and that excites me — it holds so much possibility and potential.”
“When you’re in a place where all the people are just like you,” she added. “It can feel stagnant and boring and that’s not the case on this campus.”
One challenge Shenk noted is “how to hold all of this diversity and how to create unity within that.”
“This diversity we see is a gift and something to get curious about,” she added. “Respectful engagement and cultivating a culture of curiosity and openness is something to work towards. I think at the end of the day everyone is trying to find their way – it doesn’t matter what other people think because we’re all just trying our best.”
During her time, Shenk also looks forward to meeting with students and listening to what they want in different spaces on campus, as well as supporting their spiritual growth.
“I love to see when young adults are finding their way, figuring out what their path is, asking really good questions and exploring who they are,” she said. “I would love to support that process, no matter what it looks like.”
Shenk is contracted through May 31, but wants the GC community to know that “even though this is an interim position, I am still giving it my all.”
“I’m excited to get to know everybody and I’m so grateful that I get this opportunity,” she said. “I want people to see that my position in this role is invitational and students get the chance to grow where they want to grow or to meet them where they’re at.”
Shenk’s office is located in Wyse Hall 121 and is available for office hours. Her hopes are to be available to listen to students and groups on campus, while working with the Spiritual Connections Team in offering listening spaces.