Arthur Wilson is glowing. With a huge grin on his face, he leans back in a comfortable desk chair in the office that is his to keep. It has been over a week since he found out he would be the permanent campus pastor at Huntington University, but he is still bubbling with excitement about the news.
“I do feel like my whole life has been a preparation for this experience and opportunity,” he said. “It’s all still surreal in a sense. My wife asked me the other day, ‘Is it sinking in yet?’ and I told her, ‘No, not yet.’”
He said he never would have expected to have this role.
HU President G. Blair Dowden, Ph.D., announced during chapel April 5 that Wilson would stay on as the permanent campus pastor.
Wilson was hired in 2009 as the director of urban scholarship and programming to lead the Horizon Leadership Program. He is also an assistant pastor at New Covenant Worship Center in Fort Wayne. He took on the role of interim campus pastor after Bill Fisher and Bob Henry left last year.
“Last spring we had appointed a committee to look at this position and to undergo a national search,” Dowden said. “When Arthur was appointed, we decided to hold off on that national search for the time being, thinking that maybe we would want to interview Arthur for that position permanently, not do a national search and just name him to that position.”
Dowden said he received positive feedback throughout the year about Wilson’s work in campus ministries. About a month ago, Dowden met with the search committee and said he was confident Wilson was the right choice. Wilson interviewed with Dowden, the search committee and the bishop of the Church of the United Brethren in Christ.
Wilson said the interview process was challenging, but that he found it rewarding to share his heart with the interviewers.
“It wasn’t always smooth sailing,” he said. It was a long journey. I believe sometimes God allows enduring journeys so that we have no other option but to depend on him. With this process I consider that to be the case.”
Wilson found out April 4 that he had gotten the job.
“Based on feedback and based on knowledge that I had about his role and what he was doing effectively, I made the decision, along with Ron Coffey, to appoint him to that position,” Dowden said.
Dowden said he is confident that Wilson has the experience, maturity, wisdom and skills necessary to succeed.
“He has the pastoral background to effectively be involved in this position,” he said. “I think what students sense and what I have observed is that he is a very student centered individual. He cares deeply about students and their spiritual walks of them.”
Rosa Cruz, a sophomore Horizon scholar, agreed. She met Wilson through his work with Youth For Christ three years ago and has built a relationship with him since then, she said.
“He interacts with students and his door is always open,” she said. “He’s not afraid to approach students and you can talk to him whenever you want to.”
Wilson will hand over leadership of the Horizon program to Jesse Brown, associate dean of student development.
Wilson said he still plans to be involved with the Horizon program.
“I love Horizon,” he said with tears in his eyes. “I’m always grateful for what Horizon has done for me. I was meeting with a student today in my office and she was asking, ‘Well what’s gonna happen next year?’ We’re still going to talk. We’re still going to meet.”
Wilson said his first goal as campus pastor is to understand the condition of HU’s spiritual atmosphere, and to bring more consistency to all aspects of campus ministry.
“I want to find a way to take our messages from chapel and extend it beyond that 45 minute experience,” he said, “and make that a part of our discussions, our conversations, our Ekks, our music, so that we are dealing with things that impact students’ spiritual development so they are constantly thinking about these things critically.”
Wilson said he looks forward to building more relationships with students through this position.
“I welcome students to come and share with me,” he said. “I just want students to know that I’m here for them. As a community, I just really believe God is going to do something in our midst that no person can receive credit for, but we’re all going to be left in awe.”