Dr. Randy Beckum has resigned from his role as MidAmerica’s chaplain, effective Dec. 31, to take a one-year interim pastoral position at a church in Hawaii.
Beckum has been MidAmerica’s chaplain since 1995 and has also served as a faculty member and as Vice President of Community Formation. Regarding his choice to begin a new venture, Beckum said the timing seemed right.
“I put a lot of my heart into this school, and I want the best for MidAmerica, and I just think there are some times in life, there are circumstances and things that happen that kind of give you a direction that you need to go and do something different,” Beckum said. “And obviously there’s been controversy and everybody knows that, and there’s been a little awkwardness, and I just feel like it’s a good time. I want the best for MidAmerica, and I think we need to look toward the future and not just have memories of things but we need to have dreams of what’s coming and what could be and new things out ahead.”
University President Dr. David Spittal said he did not expect Beckum’s resignation.
“It kind of caught me by surprise, but he’s one of those people, like many we have, who is very sensitive to the call of God in his life, and he senses that God is calling him into pastoral ministry, and I commend him for that,” Spittal said. “He and [his wife] Lorie have both been significant aspects of this community and I think God’s going to bless them in new ways and give them new opportunities.”
Lorie Beckum, director of MNU Europe and the Center for Global Studies and Service Learning, will also be leaving MidAmerica. Spittal said that MNU Europe will be suspended next fall due to several factors, including Lorie Beckum’s departure, the sale of MNU’s European campus and concerns over student security.
“We’ve made a decision, probably a temporary one, that we are not going to conduct MNU Europe this fall,” Spittal said. “Primarily because of security concerns and liability and the security of our students. That’s kind of a national concern right now with global studies programs. So because of the transitions, it seems like a logical time right now just to suspend that until we figure out how that is going to go in the future.”
Spittal said MidAmerica will continue to assess aspects of MNU’s spiritual life program, a process that began before Beckum’s resignation. Spittal said a committee coordinated by Brady Braatz, Director of Spiritual Life, will evaluate the entire spiritual life program, including spiritual formation credits, fines, and the purpose of community and student-led chapels. Braatz said he anticipates that there will be few changes for the spring semester, but there will likely be some currently-unknown developments for next fall.
In addition to the committee coordination, Braatz will be interim chaplain for the spring 2016 semester as MidAmerica searches for a new full-time chaplain. Spittal said the full-time position will be filled by fall 2016 and that MNU will move to a one-chaplain system, as opposed to the two-chaplain system that Beckum and Braatz previously filled.
“We’re trying to size ourselves to the enrollment that we currently have, and most institutions our size have one chaplain, so this is just an opportunity to do that,” Spittal said. “I’m naming Brady as the interim and we’ll go from there. We haven’t made any decisions beyond that yet.”
As Beckum moves on to his new position and MidAmerica’s spiritual life program begins a time of transition, Beckum conveyed a message of hope and giving.
“I want students to have real genuine hope that God’s going to make everything right one day and we can be a part of doing that now, in little ways and big ways,” Beckum said. “And I think that’s the message – that we can do more together than we can apart, and if we just see a need and pull together, we can make a difference. And that’s where the real joy in life is. It’s not in accumulating things for ourselves, it’s in giving ourselves away.”