Who is Derek Wadlington? Many of us know him simply as the school chaplain, some of us know him as Luna’s dad, others see him as a friend or role model. To understand how he came to us at Wilson College, you have to know where he started.
Chaplain Derek went to a small liberal arts college, like we as students are doing right now. He did not
study theology, but rather majored in sociology with a minor in music. After graduating he moved to New York, where he began working in purchasing for Disney, where he worked on projects like The Lion King. After that, chaplain Derek worked at an architectural lighting firm. He worked a typical 9-5 job and got an hour lunch to walk around Central Park.
How did he become chaplain if he was doing all of this other cool stuff? Chaplain Derek and his wife were heavily involved in volunteering at their church. One day their pastor suggested to them that they should go to seminary, so they did just that. After finishing, they ended up co-pastoring a church. It was there that chaplain Derek realized that his calling was not to be a pastor but to work more with the community. It was after this realization that he quit his job as pastor. Not long after this chaplain Derek applied to Wilson, where he actually did not get the job. It was not until a friend of his pointed out that the school had an opening again. So, Chaplain Derek reached out to our beloved Dean Mary-Beth to talk about the job. He ended up getting hired as the interim chaplain to see how he fit in in 2017, and he has been here ever since.
Now what can chaplain Derek do for you? He explained to me that he is a “religious and spiritual resource for the college,” meaning he is there for students and staff when it comes to talking about faith. He made it clear to me though that he wants to be there for people, whether it be faith-based or not. While he is known for his weekly Bible studies (now via Zoom), and hang outs with Luna, he also organizes a lot of volunteer work. He works with students who are here at Wilson with scholarships that require community service to make sure they get it done, he organizes a relief trip every year, and he even helped renovate Sarah’s Coffeehouse and train the Nerd Crew.
We ended up closing our talk with discussing Covid-19, but more importantly, discussing how to cope with the stress surrounding it. Chaplain Derek’s advice was to unplug. He explained that right now it is important to disconnect from the electronics we are so dependent on right now, and just breath. He said to go outside and be in nature and find some time to just do nothing. The most important thing he said to do, is to have grace. We are all angry and stressed and the best thing we can do for ourselves and others, is to have grace with those around us.
To reach chaplain Derek he can be found in lower Lenfest, room 004, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and at 717-264-2062.