By: Catherine Weddle
Covid has decimated educational institutions across the country and Adrian College is no exception.
Pastor April Gutierrez, hired in January 2020 to be AC’s new chaplain, was furloughed last spring along with more than 80 other staff members during the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic. In early August, Gutierrez was invited back, but left after just a day on the job because of concerns over face-to-face classes resuming for fall semester, according to Dean of Students Melinda Schwyn.
“April Gutierrez had some great plans and great ideas,” Schwyn said. “She was a wonderful person, but I respect her decision.”
Schwyn said Gutierrez cited the health of her friends and family and her concerns regarding the COVID-19 pandemic were far too high for her to feel comfortable with in-person gatherings and services.
Schwyn explained the process of finding a new chaplain. She said the college president typically selects a new chaplain, but President Docking wanted to pass the opportunity on to the Student Affairs Department.
A search committee was formed to find potential candidates and 72 people applied. Schwyn said each applicant was carefully considered throughout the entire process. She narrowed the field to five and the search committee reviewed the applications, selecting two finalists. Gutierrez was one of them. President Docking conducted the final interviews.
With the current pandemic situation, the search for a new chaplain has been postponed.
Right now, Schwyn said, the college is hoping to partner with outside religious organizations to get weekly services back to campus. She said one of the resources is Pastor Eric Stone, an AC alum and the new pastor of the First United Methodist Church.
Schwyn said she received great feedback from Stone, who suggested in-person or virtual worship with the First United Methodist Church, coordinating transportation to service on Sundays, communion on the lawn, and a possible alternative spring break service project.
Any questions or concerns may be directed to Schwyn at firstname.lastname@example.org.