Training Helps Seminary Chaplain in Expanded Role

Corey MacPherson

Vice president of spiritual development and chaplain, Eastern Nazarene College
Foundations of Christian Leadership participant


In 2009, Corey MacPherson had been the chaplain at Eastern Nazarene College fewer than two years, and he was wondering how he would continue his education.


The job was pastoral, but also carried significant administrative responsibilities — not something for which he felt fully prepared.


“I had recently made a transition from the local pastorate and I was really wrestling with, ‘Am I pastor, am I an administrator?’” MacPherson said.


“I was in a new role. I knew I had enough theological education, but knew I needed more leadership education as well.”


Taking part in Foundations of Christian Leadership, where he formed a community with Christian leaders from different denominations, helped MacPherson broaden his view of leadership and gave him the continuing education he had been looking for.


“The thing that was most helpful was being around the other leaders. I thought it was really a positive thing to see that these future leaders are really going in a broad range of leadership positions while having a real strong theological foundation.”


“I’m continually reminded that everything is centered in relationships, not only for our salvation but also relationships with other leaders — even from different backgrounds and traditions — being able to build friendships and to then have difficult or challenging conversations,” he said.   He said he has continued to benefit from the mindset that Foundations teaches, in particular L. Gregory Jones’ ideas on traditioned innovation.


“Recently I was in a conversation with someone and quoted ‘traditioned innovation’ and talked about that,” MacPherson said. “How can we remain faithful while having a responsibility to lead and guide a large group of millennials and 20-somethings year after year?”


MacPherson’s title was changed to vice president of spiritual development and church relations while he was taking part in Foundations. This made official his administrative responsibilities, which include reporting to the president and to her cabinet.


“What it did for me was encourage me to develop a much broader perspective of what leadership looks like,” he said. “The future of the church, fortunately, is in Christ and not in us, but there are a lot of great leaders out there doing some really wonderful things that we can learn from and draw upon.”


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