Loitering With Intent

20 Mar

Campus ministers/chaplains tend to be creatures of habit. We are very good about programming, preaching, training, advocating, etc. can potentially be endless.   The question is– how good are we at standing on the sidelines?  May I introduce you the phrase; “Loitering with Intent?”

I can’t take credit for this statement.  I have to give that to my former colleague in ministry Fr. Claude Grenache, A.A.  Initially, when Claude said this to me twelve years ago, I didn’t know what the heck he was talking about.   Claude and I were both new to our school, and were trying to map out how approach students.  I was new to college chaplaincy period.  Claude explained that we needed to be where the students were.  While planning formal activities was good, it would not attract everyone.  Claude suggested that we needed to be intentional as to where we placed ourselves for the sake of fostering relationships.  He pointed out that sometimes these areas would be good.  Other times the areas would be downright uncomfortable.

So we set out on our respective paths.  Claude decided to eat in the cafeteria.  Each day he would sit with different people.  I on the other hand hung out in the student center.  I liked to visit student organization tables to find out what they were promoting, hang out at the food “take out” station, or curl up in the lounge.  Sometimes, I would even take my work up to the library and sit at a table. Claude and I would attend all types of activities.  We would be invited to chaperone at college sponsored parties (an eye opener for us and the students), found ourselves sitting at a few Super Bingo tables, or trying not to be called up on stage during a popular hypnotist program.  We would even show up unannounced at a few “impromptu” events.  Yes, sometimes we got into hot water.  I remember one evening I had to cover Claude’s eyes for a good five minute period at a fashion show that had a risqué portion.  However, the student planners of the show and I were able to have a good conversation about what crosses the line of decency-even in fashion.

What came out of the loitering you ask? People eventually began to know who we were.  Students began initiating conversations with us.  We often found student groups dropping off tickets for us to attend their events.  Sometimes we had students drop by our offices just to “talk.” Some became involved with Spiritual Life in general.  Others kept a healthy distance.  At least they knew we were there if needed.  Many times we were asked to partner with student organizations for programming purposes.  Overall, we found “loitering” gave us an informal avenue to build relationships with our students.

Currently, I am at my second college chaplaincy.  During the first few months on the job, I found myself “loitering” in the cafeteria, bookstore, hallways, lounges, homecoming events, or even at football games.  I am hoping that though loitering, I can establish my presence a person who is not only willing be “the chaplain,” but create a space of trust on campus.

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Rev. Katrina Jenkins is the Chaplain at Illinois College in Jacksonville, IL.  She began her tenure there in June Prior to this, Rev. Jenkins was the Protestant Chaplain at Bentley University in Waltham, MA where she served for eleven years. She holds her MDiv for Andover Newton Theological School and a BS in Speech Communication from Syracuse University. When Rev. Katrina has spare time, she loves to read, volunteer, attend cultural events, listen to                                                       music, and give love to her cat Betty;

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3 Responses to “Loitering With Intent”

  1. Angela Gay Kinkead March 20, 2012 at 11:49 am #

    Fantastic! Thanks for sharing your wisdom. Now I have a name for what I do and a prompt to do more!

  2. mark lloyd richardson March 20, 2012 at 1:37 pm #

    That’s a great concept, and it goes beyond campus ministry to other forms of ministry where it’s equally important to be present where people are. Thanks.

  3. paul walley March 20, 2012 at 4:51 pm #

    I like this very much. We used to call it “hanging out” but your phase,
    intentional loitering, is even better. Glad you are settling into your new
    campus ministry. Must renew at the Global this summer!

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