"Open hearts, open minds, open doors."
That is the motto of the United Methodist Church and the one that the Rev. Chris Donald lives out as chaplain at Millsaps College. Although Donald has only been at Millsaps since January, he has quickly made himself an indispensable member of the campus community.
Millsaps College Chaplain Chris Donald
From serving as a representative of the United Methodist Church to providing pastoral care for the campus community and facilitating a vibrant multi-faith and ecumenical community, Donald is enhancing many facets of life on campus and in surrounding communities.
"The chaplain has a role, in partnership with academic and student life leaders, in helping Millsaps College live as an intentional community that promotes human thriving for our students, faculty, staff, and neighbors. A vibrant spiritual life on campus contributes to the overall richness of the educational experience," Donald said.
Donald came to Millsaps after serving as project director for the Compassionate Care Initiative at the University of Virginia School of Nursing and as an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church Virginia Conference. He earned a bachelor's degree in history and government from the College of William & Mary and a Master of Divinity from Duke University.
Since arriving in Mississippi, Donald has been surprised at how tight-knit and intimate the campus is. "I don't think I was prepared for how close the people on this campus are and how they will go above and beyond to help and support one another. Talking about 'Mother Millsaps' is truly appropriate, because the culture of this place is like a family," he said.
Donald conducted an Ash Wednesday service on campus and also the baccalaureate service that was part of commencement. Donald's installation service, which he planned with the assistance of others on campus, involved members of the campus and surrounding communities and drew high praise from many campus leaders. President Pearigen observed, "Chris's installation was deeply meaningful. It showed me that he really understands Millsaps' heritage and Millsaps' role in this city and state today."
Through conversations with students, Donald has heard overwhelming support for weekly worship services, which he expects to begin in the fall. That, he says, is what he is looking forward to most.
"I can't wait to begin that weekly worship service to help students and faculty connect with God and one another in the midst of this community," he said. "That is good news for me, because I enjoy planning worship and creating space for people to reflect on their lives and their relationship with God."