The Rev. Travis Tamerius, pastor of a church in Columbia for the past five years, has been named chaplain and director of the Office of Faith and Service at William Woods University.
The position is being funded in part by a grant from the Higher Education and Leadership Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), which provided $15,000 to help fund a campus ministry program at the university.
The grant will assist WWU with the start-up costs to create the Office of Faith and Service. As its coordinator, Tamerius will serve as university chaplain and provide value-based programming for the LEAD campus and community involvement program.
“The university will look to Travis Tamerius and his experience to provide fresh ideas and valuable leadership for the new Office of Faith and Service,” Venita Mitchell, dean of student life, said.
Tamerius has been pastor of Christ Our King Presbyterian Church, which meets on the campus of the University of Missouri, since 1999. He will continue his duties there in addition to his new responsibilities at William Woods. Prior to becoming pastor at Christ Our King, Tamerius was associate pastor at Grace Bible Church in Columbia for four years.
A native of Hannibal, Tamerius received a bachelor of arts degree in history and religious studies at the University of Missouri and a master of arts at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
He serves as an assistant editor for a theological quarterly, “Reformation and Revival Journal,” which is mailed to pastors and church leaders around the world.
Tamerius said, “I am excited to join the excellent staff at William Woods University and give leadership to the Office of Faith and Service. The age-old questions of religious belief and fundamental values remain an important part of the educational experience today. Consistent with the mission of the university, our office aims to provide learning without limits. Through regular chapel services, lecture series and film series, we want to serve our students now and better equip them for the future.”
William Woods University has been part of the Christian Church of Missouri since the church acquired the Female Academy of Camden Point, Mo., in 1870 with the goal of providing “proper schooling for the orphans of the Civil War.” When fire destroyed the school in 1889, the church fathers decided to rebuild in a new location, and Fulton was selected. The first 52 students arrived in Fulton in the fall of 1890.
From those humble beginnings, William Woods University has grown into its present stature as an independent, professions-oriented liberal arts institution of about 3,000 students, offering both graduate and undergraduate degrees in a variety of disciplines in both campus and outreach settings.
Chapel was an intricate part of William Woods through most of its first one hundred years, with students required to attend weekly worship services in downtown Fulton. In 1969, a 100-seat Colonial Williamsburg-style chapel was built on campus, a gift from a 1935 graduate.
Some time during the following three decades things changed. Despite WWU’s connection with the church, for many years interest in anything religious seemed dormant on campus.
Recently interest has resumed, with the establishment of several religious student organizations—Disciples on Campus, Lutheran Student Fellowship, Campus Crusade for Christ and Bible Study for sorority members.
“Our students and faculty agree that they have seen a growth of student interest in faith and religion during recent years, and many attribute it to a change in attitudes since the tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001,” Jahnae H. Barnett, president of William Woods University, said.
Last year, in response to student requests, Thurmond Chapel again became the site of weekly chapel services, some led by faculty members and some led by visiting clergy. At the same time, university officials began looking into the possibility of establishing an Office of Faith and Service on campus and reinstituting the position of chaplain.
Sarah Carter, a senior in education from Garden City, Kan., and one of the founders of Disciples on Campus, said, “I am delighted to have a chaplain on campus this year. The position had been left vacant for far too long. I believe having a chaplain on campus will prove to be a real asset not only to the student body, but to the university as a whole.”
President Barnett added, “We are grateful to HELM for their generosity and look forward to meeting our student’s needs with the creation of the Office of Faith and Service.”