Former ENC alumna returns as university chaplain

December 19, 2017

In August, ENC alumna Lynn Bollinger became the university chaplain of her alma mater.

“My task is to draw myself close to God so I can hear the heartbeat of God; I can hear the voice of God. My role here is to bridge both worlds – to take what I hear and know and experience about God and to share that carefully and gently with the ENC community,” said Bollinger.

When Bollinger first returned to Eastern, she served as an assistant chaplain where her role was primarily pastoral care and missions. After a year of transforming that position, she took on the job of university chaplain.

Before coming to ENC, Bollinger served as a missionary with the Church of the Nazarene to the Asia-Pacific Region. She said her experiences as a missionary and her intercultural studies background will help serve her in her role as campus chaplain.

“In all of those places, God is known to [the inhabitants of the Asian-Pacific] in a different way because God is seen through a cultural lens that is different from mine. They have something to teach me about trusting God that I don’t know about,” Bollinger said. “I approach this context, this community in the same way. There are students and faculty here who know God in a way that I don’t. They know something about the character of God, about the way God works, and how they have encountered Him that I haven’t. And I think I bring that to them as well.”

Bollinger said her personal definition of missions activity is, “the people of God connecting with the activity of God in a context that crosses a boundary of difference.”

“If we send students to work with the homeless population of Boston, or a different age group or ethnic group, to work with people who are unlike them – they cross a boundary of difference,” she said.

In addition to her missionary work, Bollinger served as the director of the 365m diploma program offering a master’s level certificate in Cross Cultural Ministry by Nazarene Theological Seminary. The program places students in a one-year internship in a cross-cultural setting. During her time, they placed students in New Zealand, Australia, Northern Ireland, Croatia, Kenya and even in U.S.-based cities such as New York.

Bollinger stresses contextual learning for students as a method of learning about people by directly interviewing them and observing them in the context of their own environment. She said contextual learning attempts to provide greater understanding of other people, what they do and why they behave the way they do.

“We teach students how to take this approach to learn about the places where they have been placed to do mission work,” Bollinger said. “[A person’s] journey with God is contextual because it exists in their person, in their own interaction with God, and I always have something to learn about who God is, the way God works, I have something to learn about my own understanding of theology from every person I interact with.”