More than the JC chaplainChaplain Darin Namminga, who teaches one class a semester and serves as a spiritual leader to students and staff at Jamestown College, never intended to go into the ministry at all.
By: By Kari Lucin, The Jamestown Sun, The Jamestown Sun
Chaplain Darin Namminga, who teaches one class a semester and serves as a spiritual leader to students and staff at Jamestown College, never intended to go into the ministry at all.
“I never wanted to be a pastor in the first place,” Namminga said. “I found out later I had friends and family praying I was in the ministry.”
Namminga was born and raised on a small dairy farm near Avon, S.D. He earned a degree from Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa, where he studied history secondary education and coaching.
And he was actually coaching basketball and teaching in the greater Sioux Falls, S.D., area, when he started to believe he had to go to seminary — even though it meant he would have to be away from his girlfriend.
“When you have assurance from God and the community, it’s pretty strong indicators,” Namminga said.
So he picked up everything and began studying at the Reformed Church of America’s seminary in Holland, Mich. Eventually he married his girlfriend, Jaime, and she joined him there.
The couple had always planned that she, too, would study and receive her master’s degree, so while she studied for that advanced degree in collaborative piano, Namminga took his turn working a temp job to make ends meet for the family.
When his wife’s degree was nearly completed, Namminga started looking all over the United States for churches to pastor. That’s when he saw an advertisement seeking a chaplain for Jamestown College.
“My wife handed it to me and she said ‘This sounds like your passions,’” Namminga recalled.
The job included teaching, missions, worship and leadership, all things that Namminga already had experience with.
As he went through the interviewing and hiring processes, Namminga came to believe that God was leading the family to Jamestown. Jaime, too, found a position as a piano professor at Valley City University.
“It’s been a blessing,” Namminga said.
As chaplain, his duties include teaching one religion-philosophy course every semester.
It also includes working with Jamestown College student ministry teams, and organizing the student chapel program. Chapel services are at 11 a.m. every Thursday, and a student group called Ignition meets at 9:33 p.m. every Tuesday.
Namminga doesn’t see his job as leading services in a top-down, authoritarian kind of ministry, but as supporting, guiding and helping students lead, while providing them with the resources and guidance they need to be successful.
In addition to that, Namminga also helps the college organize mission trips and service efforts, such as the spring break Habitat for Humanity trip, which has united 11 to 43 students per year in efforts to build homes for people in need.
Additionally, Namminga helped develop a second trip to Chogoria, Kenya. The college already had an annual trip to Chogoria for its nursing students, but needed a second trip for students in other programs.
The chaplain job also includes organizing community service for all students taking ethics courses.
“It’s a little beyond what a normal campus chaplain would do,” Namminga said.
What the chaplaincy doesn’t include is territoriality of denomination. With the wide variety of Christian faiths — plus a few atheists, agnostics and people practicing non-Christian faiths — on campus, the campus chaplain has to see a bigger perspective.
“My role on campus is to serve them,” Namminga said. “… our interest is growing the Kingdom, not controlling the ministry.”
Some of that service is to get them to think about the bigger questions, such as how important is faith, and how can it be integrated into a person’s life. That can mean, Namminga said, calling people to the reality of their faith in the midst of all that they are to do.
He does also counsel students, many of whom seem to be most concerned about relationships.
“I wonder if we have lots of connections on Facebook, but we lose the ability to actually connect personally with people,” Namminga said.
Another issue for college students is worth and value, he said, because the culture is that of a market economy, in which people’s value is often determined by what they’re worth.
“The Gospel message — it gives people worth. Sometimes it’s about reminding people they do have worth, and discovering that worth,” Namminga said. “That’s not just students, that’s faculty and staff as well.”
Sun reporter Kari Lucin can be reached at 701-952-8453
or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org