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Continued discernment leads Will Mullins from parish to campus ministry

by Louisville Seminary | Sep 14, 2009
By Toya Richards

The Rev. Will Mullins rests comfortably in the understanding that God’s design was to equip him with a pastor’s heart and place him in an academic community.

After a short stint in parish ministry following his 2006 graduation from Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Mullins was called to serve at Muskingum University, his undergraduate alma mater.

Now, settled into his role as University Chaplain after about a year and a half, he is officially being installed into the position on Sept. 16. Louisville Seminary President, Rev. Dr. Dean K. Thompson, will preach at the installation service, which will take place Wednesday evening at 7 p.m. Dr. Thompson’s sermon, “Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Costly Grace Embodied, Speaking Truth to Evil,” will be based on the Scripture passage, John 12:20-33.

“They wanted a pastor, someone who could journey with young men and women,” Mullins said. God’s work “for me is to equip and enable young men and women to discern their call.”

Located in east-central Ohio in New Concord, Muskingum University is a Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)-related liberal arts school offering a range of undergraduate and graduate programs. Majors in religion and Christian education are added to standard majors and provide a spectrum of academic selections. Dr. Rick Nutt, a Louisville Seminary alum (MDiv ’80), has served as Professor of Religion at the University since 1988.

Religious life programs, weekday prayer services, and chapel also are among some of the offerings that serve to nurture the spiritual needs of the Muskingum community.

Mullins’ role as chaplain is broad, and his responsibilities include preaching, advising both Christians and non-Christians alike, and teaching the Introduction to Christian Theology course, attended by 30 or more freshman and sophomore students. Chaplaincy requires an understanding of diversity and pluralism, he said.

Mullins, who earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in religion and philosophy from Muskingum, worked full-time as a coordinator for an after-school program for at-risk middle-school age students and also worked part-time as a member of the Ohio Air National Guard USAF inspecting aircraft engines. He served as an elder and on the Session of his home congregation, Brighton Presbyterian Church. His pastor at the time, Seminary alumna Rev. Mary Gene Boteler (MDiv ’78), encouraged Mullins to enroll in seminary. As a John Olert Scholar of Excellence, he says what he brings to his ministry at Muskingum he developed while completing his Master of Divinity degree at Louisville Seminary.

The experience of “intellectual pressure and the challenges of academic life… were good and healthy,” he said. “I needed it.”

Mullins said Seminary helped confirm what God was calling him to do. The last year, especially, “gave me a clearer idea of who I was.”

By graduation, in 2006, “I undoubtedly felt that I was called to be a pastor,” he said. “The discernment about vocation had ceased.”

Mullins answered a call to parish ministry and served as associate pastor for young adults and families at First Presbyterian Church of Delray Beach, Fla.

“I was eager to get my hands dirty, my feet wet,” he said. The church had a “tremendous group of young adults and families.”

When the opportunity to serve his alma mater was presented, Mullins was delighted to be able to serve as a pastor and remain geographically connected to his family roots. A native of Dayton, Ohio, Mullins knew he wanted to be near his home and family and have a more balanced schedule that would allow him the time to spend with his wife and three young children.

He started his position at Muskingum in early 2008 and says he continues to receive confirmation that it was a good move.

“The energy and creativity that I am able to give to the position ... bears witness to being in the right place at the right time,” he said. “The fruits of the call are just continually feeding me. I feel enriched. And, now, my dream for ministry and service is to be a person who finds joy and meaning in my vocation and knowing that my vocation enriches others."

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