Entrance Torch

Cox appointed ELCA University Pastor

The Rev. Charlene Cox, who has an extensive background in campus ministry, has been appointed as University Pastor and will join the staff of the Chapel of the Resurrection in mid-July.

Cox will succeed the Rev. Darlene Grega who pioneered the role of ELCA ministry leader and whose April 2010 death was recently remembered during a memorial service at the chapel. The Rev. Phyllis Kersten has served as interim pastor during the 2010-2011 academic year.

Cox’s appointment comes on the heels of the appointment of the Rev. Brian T. Johnson as Executive Director of Campus Ministries at Valparaiso University. In accordance with recommendations from the Provost’s Task Force on Campus Ministries at Valparaiso University, Johnson will direct and supervise campus ministries at Valpo primarily through the leadership, management and coordination of three units: the Chapel of the Resurrection, the soon-to-be constituted Institute for Leadership and Service (which will include the present Center for Church Vocations), and the Center for Church Relations (now known as the Office of Church Relations).

“Valparaiso University’s campus ministries are newly organized in a way that will open up many innovative programming possibilities, since the new organization will allow for easy and creative collaboration around three primary units that used to be separate,” Provost Mark Schwehn said. “We will always think of worship in the chapel as the center of campus ministry. The Center for Church Vocations and the Center for Church Relations will now be able to coordinate their work and the chapel’s work in creative ways.”

Cox joins the Valparaiso University community after having served the past two years as Campus Pastor at Grand View University in Des Moines, Iowa. From 2004 to 2009, Cox served as Campus Pastor at Waldorf College in Forest City, Iowa. She has prior experience as Campus Pastor for University Lutheran Ministry at Illinois State University from 1997-2000.

“Pastor Cox will bring to Valparaiso University rare combinations of experience and enthusiasm, passion for liturgy and love for preaching, and a commitment to relational ministry with a rooted Lutheran identity and an openness to diversity,” Johnson said. “We pray for God’s blessings as she will soon join the gifted Chapel of the Resurrection staff at a time of excitement and momentum.”

Cox was ordained in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America on June 30, 1991, after earning her Master of Divinity from Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minn., earlier that year. She earned a Master of Sacred Theology from the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg in Pennsylvania in 2008. Cox received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Augustana College in Sioux Falls, S.D., in 1987.

Cox will work collaboratively in chapel ministry alongside the Lutheran Church Missouri-Synod University Pastor, the Rev. James Wetzstein, and the entire chapel staff.

“Part of what drew me to Valpo is that Valpo is trying to model how to do something different,” Cox said. “After hearing President Mark Heckler’s concept that we must move beyond hospitality and embrace a table large and wide and fully include all voices in faith and the search for truth, I’m very excited to be a part of an institution and academic community with such a central focus.”

Cox will begin her duties at Valpo in mid-July, Schwehn said. Johnson will begin his service to Valpo on June 6.

“Pastor Cox’s appointment along with Pastor Johnson’s bring experience and energy to campus ministries that position Valparaiso University for leadership in areas of campus ministries across the country,” Schwehn said. “Both Brian and Charlene bring with them an understanding of creative pastoral care and great leadership skills.”