CRC Man First Protestant Chaplain at Catholic University

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In seeking a position after seminary, Michael Moore knew he wanted to be bi-vocational. What he did not know is that in his pursuit he would become the first-ever Protestant chaplain at a historic Jesuit Catholic university.

This month Moore enters his third year of ministry at Loyola University Chicago, a campus with an undergraduate population of just under 10,000. 

Michael Moore (back row, second from right) poses with several students who took part in Chicago Winter Immersion, during which students live in different parts of Chicago, visit local churches, and work on service projects.

“Loyola is really exceptional in that they have been very hospitable and welcoming,” Moore said. “There is no Catholic-Protestant tension. They acknowledge that the ministry is significant and needed.”

Moore leads a Wednesday-night worship and Bible study along with worship on Sunday nights, among his other responsibilities as a campus chaplain.

“I think it’s important that students are worshiping on campus because if they’re not, church becomes something that you outsource—you leave campus to worship and come back to do school work,” Moore said.

Prior to Moore’s arrival, a fellowship of Protestant students already met on campus, but the leaders had just graduated. On average, around 60 to 70 students flow in and out of the ministry each week.

“There is a culture of loneliness where people are very separated,” Moore said, “so joining people together in community can be hard work, but you have moments that it just clicks with the students. Being able to journey with them through those moments and seeing that ‘ah-ha’ moment when the gospel actually makes sense—not just in their minds, but in their lives—is so exciting to witness.”

Moore’s position was not funded through the university his first year, but instead by a Christian Reformed Home Missions grant. After that initial year, however, the other chaplains on campus pulled money from their budgets for him to stay. He is now funded by Classes Northern Illinois and Chicago South (regional groups of churches), Home Missions, and Loyola.

Moore is also an associate pastor for Many Peoples Church, a Christian Reformed congregation in Chicago for which he helps lead worship and also preaches.

“I have been appreciative of the CRC that they’ve made it a point to be at the universities and colleges,” Moore said, “because for the most part what I’ve witnessed is that the church has left the university, and then we wonder why university students are leaving the church. I feel really strongly that there needs to be a commitment to college campuses.”

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Melissa Holtrop

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Mr. Moore has established a transfomative paradigm that needs to be gripped by the broader church of Jesus Christ. He's being creative and missional in a complex setting where he is sharing truth without compromsing while connecting. Amazing!

While it is always good to see believers having someone to whom they can go for guidance, fellowship, etc., this story really hearkens to the continued failure of many mainstream Catholic universities to enhance and publicly endorse their own Catholic identity. Calvin College, for example, would never do something equivalent to this step at Loyola, nor would I as a Catholic expect them to. This is also another nail in the coffin of the Jesuits, who have spent half a century unravelling a once proud and staunchly Catholic identity. This has nothing to do with the Protestant chaplain or students at Loyola; rather, this is a shamefully blatant example of Jesuit decisions to embrace diversity even to the point of further weakening an evangelical mission to spread Roman Catholicism.