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Meet the Assistant Chaplain

Jennifer Adams-Massmann has joined Pembroke for a term as part-time Assistant Chaplain. She talked to Kit Smart about Chaplaincy duties and helping students de-stress during exam term.

Jennifer is an Episcopal Priest and was ordained just over ten years ago. She’s been working part time on her PhD dissertation for five years at the University of Heidelberg, and moved here from Germany two years ago. When she heard about the role at Pembroke she was eager to get back to move active ministry, and to experience what it’s like to be a Chaplain in a College setting.

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Jennifer’s PhD research is focused on American colonial history, and specifically a German group called the Moravians who sent women on international missions across the American continent.  At the time it was uncommon for women to carry out missions, particularly inter-cultural ones, and it could be dangerous for the women who went. While she’s not working on her dissertation, Jennifer is currently part-time assistant Chaplain, and is enjoying the experience:

“I’ve very much enjoyed being part of the Pembroke community. I’ve found people to be very friendly, very welcoming, and very interested as well in what we’re offering. I’ve especially enjoyed working with the Chapel clerks, and getting to know the Sunday morning worshipping community and the Choir. I’ve been getting to know people through the different offerings we’ve provided, and trying to speak to different communities within Pembroke.”

So what does a Chaplain actually do? Alongside their liturgical and spiritual duties, College Chaplains work with the Tutorial team to find ways to support students, whether that’s moral, pastoral, or spiritual. One of the ways Jennifer has fulfilled this role is through offering a series of welfare activities throughout term. She helped set up a visit from Guide Dogs UK so that students could spend a bit of time with the dogs; she arranged an improve comedy show and workshops to help people de-stress, and is managing the serenity space in Chapel which offers several activities for mindfulness.  Jennifer also offered some ‘be a Monk for an hour’ activities, borrowing practices like meditative prayer from Medieval times and modernising them to help students find calm in a stressful time.

The Serenity Space in Chapel

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