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Evan Kerstetter balances chaplain responsibilities with school work

A well-known fact to students is that the male presence here on campus is low. Case in point: sophomore Evan Kerstetter is the only male chaplain in the entire Kea-Guffin residence hall. At his first Grow Group meeting of the fall semester, Kerstetter found himself hosting around 40 guys in his room.

That initial number has shrunk to a more manageable size, giving Kerstetter about 10 to 12 regular attendees.

On top of his chaplain duties, Kerstetter has an amazingly busy schedule, one that makes it difficult for him to find time to visit all the guys of Kea-Guffin.

“I spend all my time studying,” Kerstetter said.

Kerstetter is a double major in biblical studies and theology: quite the hefty workload for a sophomore from Juniata County, Pa. But this double major is near and dear to Kerstetter’s heart.

When he first began his search for the perfect college, Eastern stuck out because it was an intimate and small Christian campus, the perfect place for someone wanting to become a minister.

“I thought, ‘Eastern’s a Christian school, I’m a Christian, this will work,'” Kerstetter said. “I heard that it challenges a lot of fundamentalist views, and since I come from that kind of background, I thought that it would be fresh.”

The moment he started taking courses at Eastern, he knew there was something more to the campus than first met his eyes.

He began taking courses in Hebrew and Greek, hoping to jumpstart his dream career of working for Wycliffe Bible Translation, as well as to get a taste for the biblical studies program. But after his first year, he realized that he wanted to do something more.

Last semester Kerstetter made the decision to switch to a more “academic” aspect of biblical studies by declaring his double major, thinking that he might be a Bible professor someday. He is now aiming to learn French and German, as well as serve as a teaching assistant for Old Testament classes, for this academia side of theology.

“I noticed that it was quite easy to double major in these two areas of study – they overlap immensely,” Kerstetter said. “And the two fields really do complement one another: one gives us an accurate interpretation of Scripture while the other takes that interpretation and tells us how God relates to us as well as how to apply any knowledge we take from the Scriptures and apply it to our lives.”

Kerstetter has been influenced by Dr. Sparks and Dr. Van Leeuwen; “real authorities on their subjects,” he said. Kerstetter also might be interested in working at Eastern – if they give him a job, that is.

“I would love teaching here,” Kerstetter said. “We have an excellent biblical studies program.”

On the rare occasion Kerstetter is not working hard on his studies for a high GPA, he is reading or playing guitar. Both are things he does to relax and unwind. Although he led Sunday night worship last year, he is now fully occupied with his chaplain position.

Kerstetter may face many challenges, but his only complaint is the challenge of coming up with topics for Grow Group. He believes in a “non-preaching” environment, one where he can encourage his guys to talk and discuss rather than hear him preach. “Learning is best in dialogue,” Kerstetter said.

Kerstetter hopes to go to Yale for graduate school and master in Old Testament. He also would be interested in taking a year-long trip to Israel for archaeology.

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