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Yale Chaplain Welcomes New Pastor and Associate Chaplain


New Haven, Conn. — Yale University Chaplain Sharon M.K. Kugler has announced the appointment of the Reverend Ian Oliver as the new Pastor to the University Church and Senior Associate Chaplain for Protestant Life at Yale.

“Ian has served as the University Chaplain at Bucknell University since 1996 and has facilitated remarkable growth in the depth, diversity and integration of the religious and spiritual life program,” noted Kugler in making the announcement.

The new Pastor to the University Church and Senior Associate Chaplain for Protestant Life at Yale will combine duties as pastor of the oldest college affiliated church in the country with duties supporting Yale’s many active Protestant campus ministries by building collegial and innovative relationships. Oliver will assume his new post at Yale in July.

“Ian Oliver is a gifted preacher and deep thinker who is quite enthusiastic about the role he can play in the further fostering of a lively vibrant ecumenical worship experience in Battell and in engaging with the Yale Protestant community as a whole,” said Kugler.

Oliver was born and raised in El Paso, Texas, attended Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts, and did his ministerial studies at the University of Chicago Divinity School. During divinity school, he completed a two-year college chaplaincy internship with Dean of the Chapel Robert D. Dewey (YDS ’51) at Kalamazoo College in Kalamazoo, Michigan. He was ordained by the Chicago Metropolitan Association of the United Church of Christ in 1990, and then began a six-year experience as Associate Chaplain of Kodaikanal International School, a multicultural, international Christian school in South India, under appointment from the United Church Board for World Ministries.

On his return to the United States in 1996, Oliver began service as University Chaplain at Bucknell University. As pastor of the church in the Bucknell chapel, he worked with student leadership to build the congregation and to introduce many new programs and services. He also helped found the Bucknell Brigade service-learning partnership in Nicaragua. Recently, he helped facilitate Bucknell’s participation in a Teagle Foundation grant program on “Secularity and the Liberal Arts” with Macalester, Vassar and Williams colleges to explore with faculty the secular self-definitions of our institutions and how to bring to the surface our often implicit definitions of “secularity.”

Of his new post, Oliver says: “At Bucknell, I have had the privilege of serving as pastor to the inter-denominational Protestant church on campus. … I believe that working effectively with a full range of Protestant/Evangelical/Pentecostal Christian groups is, in many ways, the key to opening up campus religious diversity in its fullness. I’m also very interested in exploring just what ‘Protestant’ means today for our students and our culture, and I believe the Yale position would be the place to do that. As our Protestant groups have come out of their ‘established’ position in higher education and the culture, I believe they have suffered in many ways, and I would hope to re-integrate them into university life by taking them seriously and building them up as equal partners with other religious groups on campus.”

Kugler added: “I am truly looking forward to supporting Ian’s worthy and insightful vision. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Rev. Martha Highsmith who has served as the Pastor to the University Church as she also continued her considerable duties as Deputy Secretary. She has contributed a great deal to bring this community to the next exciting step.”


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