The Rev. Mark Forrester, MDiv’83, has been named university chaplain and director of the Office of Religious Life. Forrester has been a United Methodist chaplain affiliated with Vanderbilt’s Office of Religious Life since 1994.
He assumed the new role Sept. 1 at a critical point in religious life at Vanderbilt. During the past year, questions have arisen about how the university’s nondiscrimination policy applies to religious student groups—some of which feel their beliefs and missions are inconsistent with the policy designed to protect the entire Vanderbilt community from discrimination, including on the basis of sexual orientation.
Forrester says he welcomes this kind of dialogue on campus and believes “faith via conversation” can play an important role.
“The faith we practice weekly through prayer, liturgy and study are core teachings that help shape and maintain personal continuity with tradition,” he says, “but what vitalizes these beliefs are the experiences that cause us to grapple with them. And we can only grapple with truth within the free-flowing, ‘all-doubts-are-welcome’ dynamic of religion.”
Forrester’s work has included counseling students about personal issues and helping them explore questions of faith. A graduate of Trevecca Nazarene College in Nashville, Forrester earned a master of divinity degree from Vanderbilt and a doctor of ministry degree from Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Ga.