Oxford hires new chaplain

OXFORD - When students return to Oxford College in a couple of weeks, they will have the opportunity to meet a new chaplain.

Over the summer, Oxford College hired the Rev. Lyn Pace.

"I've known about Oxford for some time," said Pace, who received a master of divinity from Emory University's Candler School of Theology. "The small and communal feel of the school appeal to me, plus the connection to Emory."

He replaces the Rev. Judy Shema, who was the first woman to serve as chaplain at Oxford College. She left her post in late February to take a position as a pastor at Agape United Methodist Church in Lubbock, Texas.

Previously, Pace was the associate chaplain, director of service learning and director of the Bonner Scholars Program at Wofford College in Spartanburg, S.C. From 2002 to 2003, he worked as a minister in the British Methodist Church on the Isle of Wight in England.

"I really attribute my special calling to campus ministry to my mentors," Pace said. "Their influence helped me see this as a valid ministry option."

While at Oxford, Pace initially will conduct an assessment of the campus and learn more about the Newton County and Oxford College communities.

"Being engaged with both the campus and local community is extremely important and integral to my work," said Pace, who now lives in Oxford with his wife Ami Hernandez. "I believe that a college chaplain's work is found in, but not limited to, five distinct areas: cultivating hospitality, shaping spiritual formation, offering care and counsel, engaging in the theological exploration of vocation and building an ethically engaged community that moves toward social justice."

He also will hold an optional weekly chapel service and serve as an advisor to different religious groups.

Students and staff of all backgrounds are invited into his office for any advisement.

"All are welcome in the chaplain's office at Oxford," he said. "Regardless of race, culture, religion, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, gender or ability, everyone is welcome here. Whether or not you hail from a religious or faith tradition, you are welcome here. Simply stop by or make an appointment by contacting me."

Michelle Floyd can be reached at michelle.floyd@newtoncitizen.com.