New Church Opens on Campus

By Jennifer Leon, Contributing Writer

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Klouse hopes to build bridges between Montclair State students and residents of the surrounding area. Photo courtesy of Paul Klouse.
Klouse hopes to build bridges between Montclair State students and residents of the surrounding area.
Photo courtesy of Paul Klouse.

Jacksonville Chapel has rented the University Conference Center on the 7th floor at Montclair State University to launch their next campus location for weekly gatherings every Sunday.

Paul Klouse, a non-denominational pastor and campus pastor for the new Montclair site said, “Jacksonville Chapel has been serving the North Jersey community for more than 80 years. Over the years, we have seen how the message of historic Christianity has helped thousands of people answer basic questions of meaning and purpose.

“We are passionate about the value of our message, and we want to expand our reach by offering this message to the Montclair community. Our goal is to partner with existing churches and community organizations in Montclair, and do our part in serving the people of this community,” said Klouse.

Klouse understands why so many people feel confused about religion. He said, “We hope to offer an environment where all people can explore and express their faith. We are available to talk to whoever may want to process what they may be experiencing in life.

“Most people, from the graduate student to the refugee, have a sense that there is a spiritual dimension to our existence, and people express that spirituality in different ways,” said Klouse, in the hope that the chapel can help cut through religious confusion, making faith simple and accessible.

According to Klouse, college students are often passionate to contribute to the peace and justice of the world.
Dorothy Rogers, chairperson of the Department of Religion, said, “There aren’t always opportunities for [college students] to [express themselves spiritually] on a college campus. Montclair State took steps to address this need about a decade ago when we established the Center for Faith and Spirituality, which is housed in the Student Center.”

According to Rogers, it’s appropriate for a publicly funded institution to provide a multi-faith center, like Montclair State, where students with a wide range of religious beliefs can explore their own understandings of God, Adonai, Allah, Brahma, Buddha, The Dao, Great Spirit, Gaia—or no god at all.

“On campus, we’ve had immense success with our faith-based organizations joining to work together and understand each other—in social events, service projects and community discussions. Not that we’re always perfect, of course. But we have a community that works to make cross-cultural dialogue—and this includes religious dialogue—a meaningful and productive exercise.” In short, religious groups here on campus understand that “it’s not a competition” that each group can flourish on its own terms without the need to impose on or try to change others.

“An organization like Jacksonville might benefit students who share an evangelical understanding of their Christian faith. It’s good for students to encounter other beliefs and ways of life so they can exchange views with each other as they prepare for life after [Monclair State]. Inter-religious discourse can enrich our experiences and understandings of each other,” said Rogers, who added that religion is an aspect of cultural diversity.

The dean of students, Margaree Coleman-Carter, said, “Jacksonville Chapel is an organization that is renting space at the University Conference for their own purposes, just the way many off-campus organizations rent university space and facilities. The organization has no affiliation with Montclair State and is not part of any campus department or group.”

The Jacksonville Chapel is currently building a core group of volunteers who want to be a part of Montclair campus, and are seeking opportunities to serve the community of Montclair. Please feel free to contact the campus pastor, Klouse, who expressed his openness to speaking with students, at pklouse@jacksonvillechapel.org.

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