Jamie VanderBerg has been with Guelph Campus Ministry (GCM) since 2005, working to bridge gaps and build relationships for ministry on a university campus in Guelph, Ont. But this past school year his job became broader in a couple of significant ways.
In September of 2016, the University of Guelph invited VanderBerg to fill a newly created half-time position as coordinator of Multi-Faith Programming. This means his day-to-day work has become more diverse, as the position is meant to benefit all faith communities. It also reaches more people through a more robust connection with Student Life, a branch of the university focused on offering programs and services of help to students.
VanderBerg’s responsibilities include providing—or connecting students with—spiritual support, helping to respond to student crises, working faith-related programming into the student experience, and promoting the work of the Multi-Faith Resource Team (MFRT).
The MFRT brings together faith leaders from several faith communities—Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Sikh, and Buddhist—who respect each other’s differences and work to celebrate diversity. As a campus minister for the Christian Reformed Church, VanderBerg was part of the team, but as program coordinator, his role and the work of the MFRT has expanded.
“The really exciting part of the new job description is the underlying recognition on the university’s part that faith-related programming shouldn’t be limited or sentenced to the margins,” said VanderBerg. “Prior to this past summer . . . we could advertise our small groups and worship services on campus, but the university wouldn’t actively promote our programs or seek to integrate them into what was being offered elsewhere. It's now my job to more fully integrate all faith-related programming.”
VanderBerg continues to work with GCM on a half-time basis. To help maintain the work of the campus ministry, Sara DeMoor was hired, also in a half-time role. “It’s been a great way to move forward. Guelph Campus Ministry now has two people on staff, and I get to spend half my time integrating faith-related programming into the university,” said VanderBerg.