By Brooklyn Dance
Trevecca’s new chaplain will come to campus with 17 years of experience as a church pastor and a desire to minister to college aged students.
Erick Gernand, currently the pastor of Real Life Community Church of the Nazarene in Murfreesboro, will be Trevecca’s new chaplain.
“Ashley and I have spent quite a bit of our ministry working with young adults and college students, so we’ll be with an age group and season of life that we love. I love the kinds of questions and exploration of faith that generally happens in these years,” he said.
On Sunday March 24, Trevecca announced Gernand will fill the vacancy left by Shawna Songer Gaines’ move to be the lead pastor of Trevecca Community Church.
Gernand is Trevecca President Dan Boone’s son-in-law. Gernand’s wife, Ashley, was also hired to oversee music and mentor chaplain bands.
Trevecca’s nepotism policy states that it is a conflict of interest for an employee to report directly to a relative. Boone said the chaplain has always been appointed by the president and that there are plans in place to broaden who Gernand will report to, but that Gernand will be “responsible to me for the spiritual life of the campus” at the request of the Trevecca board of trustees.
After the student development restructuring in the fall, the chaplain now reports to the dean of students for part of his responsibilities.
“The chaplain is accountable to the dean of students, with a dotted line of responsibility to the president. The conflict of interest is resolved in that, because Jessica Dykes will operate his annual review without my presence, and Tim Green will also participate in that because the chaplain is part of the school of religion too,” Boone said. “[Gernand] will still be accountable to me for the spiritual life of the campus because the board of trustees holds me accountable for the spiritual life of the campus.”
Boone said that once he realized Gernand was a lead candidate in the search, he put together a team to oversee the hiring.
“As we reached clarity on this choice, I asked Steve Sexton, our Director of Human Resources, for his wisdom in the process. Upon Steve’s recommendation, and in consultation with the Chair of our Board of Trustees, I vetted the conflict of interest with the Trevecca Board of Trustees Executive Committee, my immediate supervisors,” Boone wrote in an email to faculty, staff and students. “We created an oversight committee for the hire – Steve Pusey, Tom Middendorf, Steve Sexton, and Jessica Dykes. While the chaplain reports to the president on the spiritual life of the campus, we have created a line of accountability to the dean of students for his engagement on the Student Development team.”
After the board of trustees approved, Boone said he had Dykes, associate vice president and dean of student development and Middendorf, associate provost and dean of student affairs, lead an interview with the student development team.
“I was there for the first two minutes to welcome everybody and thank them for what they were doing. Then I exited the interview and didn’t participate in it and they brought back a strong recommendation,” Boone said.
According to Boone, neither job opening was posted publicly. The chaplain position has always been a process of appointment. Boone enlisted Tim Green, dean of Millard Reed school of theology and Songer Gaines, former university chaplain to assist in the search process.
“[Tim, Shawna and I] came up with a pool of four or five names and I asked them for their ranking of their particular names. We didn’t do an interview process simply because these were all people we knew particularly well,” Boone said. “And I really would not see us hiring a chaplain that the three of us didn’t already know exceptionally well. Both Tim and Shawna came back to me and said that Erick would be their first choice.”
Boone compared the search process for a chaplain to be more like the placement of a local congregation than a traditional job application.
Ashley Gernand’s position is not newly created, but rather a compilation of multiple jobs left unfilled after Gaines left.
“There are several assistant levels already in the budget,” Boone said.
When Gernand was approached about fulfilling the chaplain role, he mentioned he would like for his wife to get a job too. The job she was given is part-time and does not yet have a written job description, Boone said.
“They’ve worked together for 15 years,” Boone said. “He made it known through the process coming in, he would like Ashley to do music.”
Boone said Gernand met all of the qualifications to be chaplain.
“When you look at pastors in the Church of the Nazarene and our Board of Trustees, it is very direct that they want an ordained Nazarene elder as chaplain,” Boone said.
Gernand has both a bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Olivet Nazarene University, as well as a Master of Divinity from Nazarene Theological Seminary.
Along with being an ordained elder, Boone cited looking for someone that has experience leading a church of more than 1,000 members and someone who has experience working in a university setting.
Gernand meets all of the listed qualifications, Boone said. He is most recently a part-time chaplain for Trevecca’s online program. He will continue to serve as both roles, but they will remain separate.
“We’ve always wanted to combine these roles so the university has one chaplain,” Boone said. “[We] don’t know if its doable yet with one person.”
The Gernands will start