Sixteen years at Taylor University, eight years as a campus pastor. Rev. John Cavanagh, who serves as the campus pastor, has made a lasting impression on the university.
On Wednesday, Feb. 1 during chapel, Cavanagh announced to the Taylor community his plans to move on from his position as the campus pastor to pursue a career in counseling and will be serving part time in the counseling office.
While the announcement came without warning to the Taylor student body, this is something that Cavanagh himself saw coming.
It’s been about two years since he began studying for a master’s degree in counseling through Grace College. Now seems to be the best time to move on, as he is about halfway through his degree.
“Now this is a good transition time, because I’m at the point in a master’s of counseling where you have to start to do some practical hours,” Cavanagh said.
As Cavanagh moves on to the next stage of his life, he remembers his time at Taylor fondly, but is excited for the next stage.
He cares deeply for others and is looking forward to learning how to be more personable in that aspect.
“I’m excited to learn to care for people in a different capacity, and I think my work with people already has helped me to build in some areas, but I want to get better, and when you’re a counselor, there’s a different approach to it,” Cavanagh said.
As the university now looks toward the future and needs to fill the position of campus pastor, they are currently accepting applications, and the process to find someone to lead the chapel program is underway.
Skip Trudeau, vice president for student involvement, is also the direct supervisor of the campus pastor and will be running the search for Cavanagh’s replacement.
As Taylor is looking to fill this position, the hope is to have a candidate announced by commencement.
“What we’re looking for is somebody who can maintain the vibrancy of the chapel program and keep it going, and keep it as that critical part of our Taylor culture,” Trudeau said. “That doesn’t mean don’t make changes, it just means it’s going to stay in the heart of who we are.”
Trudeau has worked directly with Cavanagh for the eight years he has been the campus pastor. The two have known each other since they first met 20 years ago when Cavanagh was a student at Taylor.
They have developed a supervisory and friendship type of relationship while working together, according to Trudeau.
“John really excels at the pastoral care side of what he does,” Trudeau said. “He works with some of our students when they’re at their worst times, and he’s really good at that.”
Caring for others has always been something Cavanagh has had a passion for. This goes back to his time as the Wengatz Hall Director, when he decided to use that role to work more in discipleship and mentorship with his residents.
As Cavanagh gets ready for the next chapter of his life, he can’t help but recognize the things he has learned from his time serving as the campus pastor.
“It’s more about navigating some of the uncertainty or being with people in difficult things or not having all the answers,” Cavanagh said. “Or navigating competing commitments that exist, and trying to figure out what’s best.”
Now, as Cavanagh looks to the future of the Taylor chapel program, he openly recognizes that Taylor only works so well because of numerous people serving and using tremendous gifts in the service of others.
He has one goal for chapel this semester: to see chapel participation be the best it has ever been.
“I want (students) to want to come and want to grow, and forever who comes in (new campus pastor) to steward chapel and some of the other responsibilities of a campus pastor, I want them to come in and be energized and grateful that students are enthusiastic and participate and are determined; and that it becomes a blessing for them (new campus pastor),” Cavanagh said.