Brittany Longsdorf Moves On from BU Ministry
Replacement sought for country’s first international students chaplain
In her two years at BU, the Rev. Brittany Longsdorf launched the country’s first campus ministry for international students while cheering on the Green Bay Packers. (She is a self-described die-hard fan).
She couldn’t pray the Packers to a Super Bowl victory (she’s not a miracle worker), but by all accounts, she excelled at the first endeavor, launching weekly meals, meditation, and scripture studies for international students as Marsh Chapel’s chaplain for international students.
“Brittany was extremely helpful in helping us adjust to our new lives in Boston,” says Taiwan native Emily Chen (GRS’14). “Our Tuesday fellowships provided us a place to unwind and talk about whatever was going on with our lives.…It gave us a safe place to share about the good and bad in our lives.” Chen especially appreciated the Thanksgiving dinner Longsdorf held at Marsh Chapel for students unable to return home during the break.
Longsdorf left BU in July to become the multifaith chaplain at Bates College. Jessica Chicka (STH’07,’11,’17), Marsh’s Lutheran chaplain, is serving as her interim replacement. The Rev. Robert Allan Hill, dean of Marsh Chapel, says they are conducting a national search for a permanent chaplain, with no set deadline.
“Because of the particular nature of this position and our desire to see the project grow steadily and further, we are focused on finding just the right person,” he says. “The job will remain posted until the position is filled.”
Longsdorf says her tenure at Marsh was “an amazing initiative in hospitality, and I feel so blessed to have been a part of such a compassionate, pioneering ministry.…I am immensely impressed by, and proud of, all of the new initiatives for international students and cultural diversity that are cropping up all across campus at BU.”
Marsh Chapel created the position in response to the surging number of foreign students at BU, which passed 7,800 in fall 2014, up from 4,500-plus a decade earlier. Chapel staff were aware of the dislocation felt by students adjusting to a new culture and the biblical injunction toward hospitality. Chen says some students may not avail themselves of the program because it’s run by Marsh, so it may not appeal to non-Christian students, and because it includes activities beyond faith-based ones, and that may not appeal to the most devout students.
“This is probably one of the reasons why we always had a small group of people” at fellowship events, she says. Even so, the program is a vital way for foreign students to learn about American culture and to “share their experience adjusting to a new country and city without being judged.”
“Brittany has done an outstanding job,” Hill says. “Personal outreach, programmatic imagination, and pastoral care have been the hallmarks of her ministry. We could not have asked for a better inaugural incarnation of this new and different form of service.”
Hill is confident that the ministry remains in good hands with Chicka, who he says “is a veteran of our work in ministry here and is a warm and talented leader.”
Comments & Discussion
Boston University moderates comments to facilitate an informed, substantive, civil conversation. Abusive, profane, self-promotional, misleading, incoherent or off-topic comments will be rejected. Moderators are staffed during regular business hours (EST) and can only accept comments written in English. Statistics or facts must include a citation or a link to the citation.