Senior gentleman is suit smiles for photo

Andy Renema | Photo via NAIT

A message from Andy Renema, a Christian Chaplain at NAIT:

When I wait at the crosswalk on 106 street, wearing my NAIT jacket that has “CHAPLAIN” on the back, some people have asked me what a chaplain does. They might know that there are chaplains in hospitals and prisons, but why at a tech school?

NAIT has eight chaplains sponsored by different faith backgrounds and they love chatting with students and staff about faith journeys, changing beliefs, core values and how all those evolve.

We are all about wellness, a big theme at NAIT. Stress, anxiety, loss and relationships are recurring topics which are welcome and usually we can see you on short notice. We listen and when issues become too serious, we are ready to refer students to NAIT’s counsellors.

We don’t have offices, but can share the conference room at Student Counselling. We think of the crosswalks, long hallways and restaurants as offices for chats over a coffee or a snack.

I love greeting someone by making eye contact and connecting.

I have a sign coming that reads, “The chaplain is in. Ask me anything; tell me anything.” Chaplains do not preach or proselytize. We are not associated with the sidewalk preachers.

The NAIT chaplains that I know are focused on wellness and their spirituality is not the hands-on-your-hips-heels-dug-in variety. Some chaplains see the Bible or sacred texts as humans telling of big ideas that add value and meaning to life today.

Some may even suggest that anyone who proclaims ultimate truth based on isolated texts without putting them into a historical setting, has the kind of certainty that degenerates into exclusivism or intolerance.

I have to remind myself that the Bible was written by many authors for varied audiences and that the final collection of 66 books was determined at meetings of people with similar issues that we experience today.

I’m not doubtful of its value and core message, but I shouldn’t get stuck in the inconsistencies or the details.
I tell myself to sit still so that I can hear the nudges and overarching themes because that will lead to a more tolerant, gentle presence and a caring support in chaplaincy.

If you have a faith you want to explore please reach out to the NAIT chaplains.
Andy Renema, andyr@nait.ca or 780 454 7955 or cell: 780 554 8228