Over a year ago, Rod Reed, John Brown University’s previous student chaplain, departed from the university. After much anticipation, JBU has hired Mark Irving as the new chaplain and to join the university in the near future.
Stephen Beers, JBU’s Vice President of Student Development, was involved in the hiring process. Beers said that a committee was formed to decide potential candidates. The committee consisted of faculty, professors and students. With a variety of opinions, the committee wanted to ensure that it made a decision that would best “represent the community,” according to Beers. The committee received over 150 applicants from all over the country, with many individuals coming from different areas of expertise. It received applications from former chaplains, pastors and even some parents of JBU students. Beers said that they were not looking for someone who could merely lead; they were looking for someone who could learn as well. Additionally, the new chaplain needed to have a humble attitude and “a vision with the ability to accomplish it.” A background in Christian institutions was also important for the committee’s decision. The committee believed it needed someone who has “a passion for discipleship and can get things done,” Beers said. Irving was one of the more desirable applicants due to his experience as an executive pastor at Fellowship Nashville in Tennessee and other young adult ministries throughout his career. When the time came to make a decision, JBU announced Irving, amongst the 150 applicants that accrued within a year, as the best candidate for the position. When asked what he thought the students of JBU could expect from their new chaplain coming in the fall, Beers said that Irving is “someone who loves students” and “wants direct relationships from students and has a desire for ministry.” He also said that Irving is the kind of person who will want to learn from the students and the JBU culture.
Irving and his family plan to shift over to JBU over the summer after this semester. However, students will have the opportunity to meet Irving this semester when he comes to visit during the first week of April. “I look forward to serving as the JBU chaplain and walking alongside students in the great adventure of following Jesus,” Irving said.
When asked if they could describe in one word what they felt towards Irving’s upcoming arrival, JBU students had a number of different responses. Senior English major Lilly Matayo said, “Excited.” Jack Stockton, a senior management major, said, “Hopeful.” Junior psychology major Billy McIntosh said, “Optimistic.” Fletcher Lowe, also a senior management major, responded with, “Cautiously-optimistic.” Irving’s word, via email, was, “Convivial.” We hope and pray for the leadership of Irving and his family in the lives of students and young adults alike.