Upon arrival to campus for the 2020-2021 school year, Marlin Nation was greeted by an unfamiliar, yet friendly face: the new University Chaplain, Marie Porter.
Porter was not expecting to be in this position at VWU, but believes it was all “God’s work.” She previously was in a full-time position at Haygood United Methodist Church where she was the Director of Student Ministries for the past 12 years, after receiving her degree from Old Dominion University.
She stated that she had been praying for the students at Virginia Wesleyan for three years prior but never expected to actually be in a position on campus.
At the beginning of the fall semester, Porter had never even applied for the vacant University Chaplain position. She was offered this position by her director at Haygood. Porter was given the opportunity to split her time between the church and Virginia Wesleyan.
She described this new job situation as the “best of both worlds.” She believes God has a sense of humor and that he alluded to her that it was not enough for her to be praying over the student body, rather, she needed to find her place on campus and interact with the student body in-person, on a regular basis.
Porter’s overarching goal for the school year is to support and uplift students in any way that she can, especially given the unique circumstances COVID-19 presents. Throughout the academic year, she wants to get students from VWU into local schools and becoming more integrated into the community.
Porter describes herself as a “maximizer” and “developer.” She likes to build upon programs and ventures that are already in place and take them to a new level. She believes there is no sense in reinventing the wheel when there are other options that are already working so well. With this being said, she aims to help students focus on and maximize their already existing strengths and accentuate them.
In regard to Marlin Ministries, Porter hopes to integrate the organization with the YoungLife group on campus. She said that in previous years, the YoungLife group only ventured to private schools, and she would definitely like to change that. She would like the organizations to extend their leadership to Bayside and Princess Anne High Schools to grow their already-developed YoungLife programs.
Since being on campus, Porter has expressed much gratitude and enjoyment with her new position. She said that Virginia Wesleyan has been a very welcoming atmosphere for her.
Her greatest joy in this new position is the opportunity of working with future leaders on a daily basis. Porter stated that her greatest inspiration is the student body and all those that she can positively impact
Porter described COVID-19 as the reason why she is currently at Virginia Wesleyan. She truly believes that if the pandemic did not occur, she would not be here in this position.
She stated that “God used it [COVID-19] to put me here.” Porter acknowledged that this is a hard time for everybody and poses unguided challenges. However, with great adversity, new strengths are developed.
She also said that worship is more challenging to conduct, as it must be held outside. She also commented that these changes have made us closer as well. For example, having SOAR, the university’s worship program, outside and led by students, has provided the program with great attendance and more exposure to students that are simply walking on the sidewalk during the service.
Porter encourages all of those involved with Marlin Ministries and worship on campus to be creative in their planning and that large-scale involvement is still very much feasible. She encourages all to focus on being together, rather than all of the newfound difficulties.
Additionally, Porter stated, “This is temporary; I am hopeful this will pass and am confident that we will all be better because of it.”
A senior member of Marlin Ministries, Jason Brugman said, “Working with Chaplain Marie has been awesome. I’m really grateful for Chaplain Marie’s attitude of entering Virginia Wesleyan knowing that this was a place she could help people to grow, rather than the chaplaincy just a job. She’s gone way above university expectations in helping students, volunteering a lot of her time outside of her hours to give student leaders and student communities a chance to succeed even amidst COVID.”
By Jack Palmer