The search for a new lay chaplain: “Someone a little older than me”

Photo courtesy of Kayla Deep (C’15).

By Mary Katherine Saye 
Contributing Writer

Since March of 2017, Kayla Deep (C’15) has served as Sewanee’s lay chaplain, but will soon be moving on from the Mountain. As lay chaplain, Deep has facilitated “Growing in Grace” which is a student-led contemporary church service, organized catechumenate meetings, and supported students in groups and individually. Deep emphasizes that one of her most important jobs as lay chaplain has been to meet with students one on one when needed to “talk about joyful or hard things that they need to process.” 

Deep recalls that when first starting as Sewanee’s lay chaplain, she had to learn how to “be a listener without internalizing everyone’s problems.” She was inspired by her own lay chaplain at Sewanee who was able to give her perspective, but was also able to be casual with her. She credits the connection she built with her lay chaplain to being able to talk to “someone a little older than me,” but not so much older that it had been a long time since they had been in her shoes. Chaplain Tom Macfie suggests that this characteristic is central to the position of lay chaplain, and a feature to keep in mind as the search for a new lay chaplain begins. 

In the search for a new lay chaplain, Chaplain Macfie notes that it will be the responsibility of the next Chaplain to choose their partner, the lay chaplain. However, he adds that some characteristics necessary for the position that the search committee will take into account include maturity and willingness to be part of a “team.” Macfie attributes his successful partnership with Deep to these, and trusts that the committee will recognize these abilities in their choices. 

Deep is grateful for the skills her time as lay chaplain have given her. One skill her position has helped her develop is the ability to “help people through traumatic or stressful things.” In order to further develop this skill, Deep hopes to attend grad school and get a masters degree in social work. Her time as lay chaplain at Sewanee has helped her to discern a path for what’s next, and will leave an admirable example for the next lay chaplain.