Monday, February 24, 2014

New Chaplain Brings Gordon Lessons on Unity

By Sarah Tang ’16

This semester, Gordon welcomed a new member into its community. In a short period of time, he has already established many relationships with students, regularly meeting with them and mentoring them, ready for visitors to drop by his office any time for a conversation. This is our new chaplain, Tom Haugen.

Previously, Tom had served in churches in Atlanta, Georgia, on Boston’s North Shore, and most recently Zurich, Switzerland, for over 6 years. Why would someone living in beautiful Switzerland move back to the United States, I wondered. “I had sensed God asking me if I can dream big, what my dream job would be,” Haguen said. “And the one job that rose on top was to pastor a liberal arts Christian college.”

Tom prayed persistently and consulted his wife, who had attended Westmont College in California, and she told him he would be perfect for the job. Along with their three daughters, the family then decided to move back in 2010, having faith that God would provide them with the right opportunities.

For the next 3 years, Tom began working toward a Ph.D. in homiletics at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. In September 2013, the position for chaplain at Gordon opened up, and Tom went for it. He was chosen, and then began working part-time in November alongside then Dean of Chapel, Greg Carmer, who has since taken on the dual role of Dean of Christian Life and Theologian-in-Residence. To this day Tom says he still has Dr. Carmer on speed dial and has learned immensely from him.

“What excited me the most was the opportunity to invest in and pastor college students at a place in their lives where they are hungry for someone to teach them and point them to Jesus,” Tom continued to say, “being able to shepherd students to do what God has put on their heart through pastoral counseling and mentoring is exactly what God has put on my own heart to do here.”

Tom’s first task was to come up with a chapel theme for the semester, and as he prayed through the themes, one concept kept coming into his mind: unity. “I am committed to this: I believe that God has created us to be joyful beings glorifying God and enjoy him forever, and I want to bring this idea to campus through my genuine commitment to it and have it overflow,” Tom explained. Combining unity and joy with Tom’s commitment to preach through God’s Word, Philippians emerged as the perfect book to build the semester’s chapel program: Together as One: A Walk through Philippians. Written by the Apostle Paul, Philippians addressed the first congregation in Europe. In the text, Paul aimed to encourage and guide this church to grow as one in the name of Jesus Christ—just the same as Tom’s vision for the Gordon community.

The semester’s chapel schedule interweaves Tom’s series on unity with many other speakers and themed weeks. The seven separate messages on connection, purpose, humility, compassion, hope, joy, and contentment will work together to empower and motivate the campus to go through scripture together and trigger conversations and reflection.

In his sermon on Purpose, Tom focused on the teaching that God’s purpose is bigger than our circumstances. “Paul understood that hard things would come his way,” he preached, “But whatever happens, he says live a life that gives Jesus Christ the honor and the glory that he deserves; whatever happens, hold firmly to the truth of Jesus Christ; whatever happens, represent Christ well; whatever happens, allow God to use your suffering to advance the gospel; whatever happens, stand firm striving together as one, for the sake of the gospel.”

“I want students to come into chapel not knowing what to expect,” Tom said. He has done just that—whether through fresh expressions of corporate faith, like moments of silence for the student body to confess to the Lord together, or fun community experiences like a recent free t-shirt giveaway. And these small moments—praying together, noticing a couple classmates wearing the same t-shirt—will work to build the unity Tom is preaching about. Through his chapel sermons and outside of chapel, through Tom’s interactions with students, he is encouraging the student body to see the bigger picture of the Kingdom, together as one.

To watch follow Chaplain Tom Hauguen's chapel series on unity, visit the Gordon College YouTube channel here.

Sarah Tang '16 is a sophomore sociology and communication arts double major at Gordon from Hong Kong, China, and a writer in the Office of College Communications. She is a member of the Campus Events Council and works as a barista in Bistro 255. She is passionate about human trafficking and special needs orphans and has a burden for Southeast Asia.

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