As a college affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA), Blackburn College takes seriously the task of nurturing the spiritual dimension of our students. The Office of the College Chaplain/Pastoral Counselor provides spiritual and emotional support for the students, faculty, and staff of Blackburn College, as well as opportunities for growth and development, while encouraging meaningful engagement with one another and within the larger community.
As a work college, we are uniquely positioned to have substantive conversation about vocation – the idea that the work we do is much more than a means to an end; the idea that each of us is called to make a difference through the choices we make over the course of our lives, and on a daily basis. We spend a good bit of time promoting vocational considerations.
The welcome is wide – there is a place for people of all faiths and traditions as well as no particular background; for people who are wondering, wandering; for people who wish to deepen their faith commitment; for people who want to ask difficult questions and question easy answers.
At Blackburn College,
- we celebrate community, coming together in our efforts to learn, work, and earn, through cooperation and collaboration.
- we celebrate diversity, and appreciate the differences we all bring to the table.
- we encourage responsibility for ourselves and regard for each other.
- we encourage the search for meaning in the work we do and in the lives we lead.
- we recognize the privilege of access to quality higher education, and recognize the responsibilities that accompany that privilege.
- we believe in the capacity we each have to make a difference in the world.
+Religious Student Organizations
There are a number of student led religious organizations on campus. Don’t see what you are looking for? Contact Chaplain Brown!
Blackburn Christian Fellowship
Blackburn Christian Fellowship seeks to draw Christians closer together through Bible study, discussion, activities, prayer, and service. A nondenominational group open to all students.
The Element is a young adult/campus ministry affiliated with Cross Church, as well as a student organization at Blackburn College. The purpose of this ministry is to love God and to love people.
Newman Club is an organization designed to enrich the lives of Blackburn Students by providing fellowship with believers, spiritual growth and exploration, and a deep commitment to serving the community through service projects and outreach programs. The Newman Club is affiliated with the Roman Catholic religion, however anyone is welcome to join!
Occasional worship services are held in Clegg Chapel. The Blessing of the Books marks the start of the academic year. A service is held during Homecoming, as well as during the important liturgical seasons of Advent and Lent. In addition, Catholic Mass is celebrated in Clegg Chapel weekly, in cooperation with Ss Mary and Joseph Catholic Church.
Students are invited and encouraged to find a church home in the Carlinville area. The Carlinville Chamber of Commerce provides this listing of area congregations.
Book discussions, Bible studies, guest speakers, and themed conversations are also offered. If you have ideas for future programming, please contact Chaplain Brown.
+Presbyterian Links and Resources
+Interfaith Links and Resources
+Meet the Chaplain
Chaplain Brown is an ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Prior to coming to Blackburn, Erica served churches here in Illinois, in Villa Park and Danville. She was the Assistant University Chaplain at Northwestern University. She worked with Family Promise of the Mahoning Valley, in Girard, Ohio – a homeless shelter dedicated to keeping families together as they struggle to get back on their feet. She also served as the Director of Spiritual Life and Community Engagement at Wesley College in Dover, DE.
Chaplain Brown calls Warren, Ohio “home,” for that is where she was born, where she grew up, and most importantly, where her mom continues to live. Erica graduated from Mount Union College, in Alliance, Ohio. BA in English in hand, she went to Bucknell University to pursue a Masters degree. The title of her Master’s thesis was “‘There’s a world in your eye’: Spirituality in Selected Works of Alice Walker.” Somewhere in that mix, she felt called to ministry. She continued her education at the University of Chicago Divinity School, where she received a Master of Divinity degree. Her senior ministry project focused on issues of welcome and hospitality.
Chaplain Brown is passionate about meeting people where they are and walking with them as they get to where they would like to be. She is fond of asking difficult questions and questioning easy answers. She may be found in her office on the second floor of Hudson Hall, room 203. She may just as often be found out and about on campus, sometimes with homemade muffins. Chaplain Brown has a gentle, listening heart, and strong shoulders, should you wish to talk about anything at all. Please feel free to call or stop by any time. Her door, as well as her mind, is always open.
+What is a Chaplain? How can she help me?
A chaplain is a trained religious professional employed by an institution other than the chuch – in this case, Blackburn College. Chaplain Brown is present on campus to serve the needs of students, faculty and staff, especially when issues of faith arise in their daily living.
Times when one might want to call the chaplain as a resource person include:
- Death and Dying. Perhaps a close friend or family member has died recently and you are having trouble dealing with pain over the loss. Perhaps you are ill, or require surgery or hospitalization and may be fearful concerning your diagnosis or prognosis. The chaplain can be of assistance when dealing with such ultimate concerns.
- Belief and Identity. When you feel as if you do not know what to believe anymore. College years are times of change in your life. The freshman year, in particular, can bring great turmoil as you begin to question the very basis of who you are, of who you would like to become, and what that means for who you have been. The experience of new-found freedom coupled with the “burden” of having so many choices in life can be a tumultuous time.
- Feelings of Guilt. When you are dealing with intense feelings of guilt. Perhaps you feel guilty for not living within expected family norms. Maybe you feel guilty over choices you have made. Guilt can be a pervasive feeling and there are times when a word of forgiveness and understanding can be helpful.
- High Pressure Religious Groups. When you fear that someone is potentially injuring you through aggressively recruiting you for a religious organization or possibly a cult. Cults or high pressure religious groups often prey upon the wounded, lost and confused. There is nothing wrong with enthusiastic expressions of faith. If a line is crossed and others are feeling threatened or coerced, that becomes a problem. If you are concerned that someone is getting into a destructive and manipulative group and is in danger of getting in too deeply, you need to contact someone.
- Hospitalization. When you are hospitalized. Illness far from home can be traumatic. A hospital visit can reassure you that someone cares and you are not alone.
- Faith Issues and Moral Questions. When you simply want to “talk to someone”. Perhaps you have particular concerns with faith issues or moral questions, questions of social justice, ethical issues of right and wrong. The chaplain can be a sounding board for such concerns.
- Vocation and Career Choice. When you are exploring career options, deciding on a major, wondering about the meaning of life, questions of faith may become important.
- Sexuality. When you are dealing with issues of sexuality, it may be helpful to seek religious guidance. In a non-judgmental atmosphere, the chaplain is willing to discuss questions of becoming sexually active, exploring sexual identity, and dealing with sexual assault.
- Relationships. When you are having difficulty in an important relationship — with family, friends, a significant other, etc. the chaplain can listen and help clarify issues.