The Rev. Chuck Currie will join Pacific University in Fall 2014 as director of the Center for Peace & Spirituality and university chaplain.
Currie is well known in the Portland area as a minister and leader in interfaith, nonprofit work in the arena of social services. He brings to Pacific University vast experience working with people of all faiths and backgrounds.
He earned his master of divinity from Eden Theological Seminary in 2006 and is working to complete his doctor of ministry from Chicago Theological Seminary. He also attended Pacific University for a time in the 1980s. He is ordained in the United Church of Christ and currently serves as senior minister at Sunnyside Church and University Park Church in Portland.
Working with people across faith traditions, he helped found two shelters for homeless youth and families in the Portland area and assisted in the development of the Multnomah County Interfaith Outreach Office.
He has received the Distinguished Service and Leadership Award from the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth, the Blessed Are the Peacemakers Award from the World Council of Churches, and the Vollum Ecumenical Humanitarian Award from the Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon.
He also is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post’s religion section.
At Pacific University, Currie will head the Center for Peace & Spirituality, which was founded in 2012 to support students’ study, reflection and action in a spiritual context. To date, the center has focused on partnering with organizations at Pacific and in the community and on bringing speakers and activities to campus.
Founding Director and Distinguished University Professor Dave Boersema, who is looking forward to returning to the classroom, said Currie is the ideal person to take the center to the next level.
Currie will work to expand the center by further supporting students’ spiritual pursuits, perhaps coordinating worship and service opportunities for various faiths on campus, and helping students further their study and pursuit of spiritual endeavors — a role complemented by his additional title of university chaplain.
“He is really keen on working with students directly both in the classroom … and out of the classroom. He is far more knowledgeable than I about religious traditions and has vast interfaith connections both locally and nationally,” Boersema said. “If, at the start, I had been asked to hire someone to direct the center, hands down it would have been Chuck.
“I am genuinely thrilled and excited that Chuck will be coming back to Pacific in this new role.”
Support for students is particularly important as Pacific University continues to grow.
“As we serve more and more diverse students, spirituality and religion plays a more important role to them,” said Sarah Phillips, director of the School of Social Sciences. For example, she noted the growing population of Muslim students who need appropriate campus space for prayer.
Pacific University was founded in the UCC tradition. However, diversity is a key element of Pacific’s mission, and the position of director of the Center for Peace & Spirituality and university chaplain position is an interfaith role to serve students of all backgrounds.
Currie will start his position in Fall 2014. In the meantime, however, he will teach a winter course in the public health program focusing on the intersection of religion and healthcare. When he starts work full time, he also will teach courses in the comparative religion program.