Briercrest names new college chaplain

Julie Cole | May 13, 2013
Dan Gabor (left) Briercrest's newly appointed college chaplain, and outgoing chaplain Cal Macfarlane take a moment to chat with Briercrest student Spencer Meisner. Dan Gabor (left) Briercrest's newly appointed college chaplain, and outgoing chaplain Cal Macfarlane take a moment to chat with Briercrest student Spencer Meisner.Dan Gabor (left) Briercrest's newly appointed college chaplain, and outgoing chaplain Cal Macfarlane take a moment to chat with Briercrest student Spencer Meisner.

Briercrest College students will have a familiar face as their new chaplain next year.

Dan Gabor, who has served the last eight years as a resident director (RD) for several of the men’s dorms at Briercrest, will be stepping into his new position in August. Gabor takes the place of Cal Macfarlane, who is moving to Ontario to direct Briercrest’s Imprint program at Muskoka Woods.

The Ontario native says there’s a specific opportunity he’s looking forward to that this role will give him.

“The possibility of shaping students’ perceptions of who God is,” he said. “That scares me but it excites me too. I think we all struggle to have accurate perceptions of who He is.”

Besides scheduling the year’s chapel services, and helping students one-on-one, the incoming chaplain will also be a regular speaker in the chapel services – a responsibility that he doesn’t take lightly.

“You have to live the sermon before you preach it – sometimes joyfully and sometimes painfully,” he said. “That’s been my experience. People know when you’re living it, so you have to live it. Part of being a chaplain is the words you say, but part of it is the attitudes you convey and the intuitive ways that you care from the front. I think that’s important.”

While Gabor hopes his work organizing the school year’s chapel services and caring for students will “inspire students to kingdom mission” and finding their life’s calling, he’s certain about the primary impact he wants his ministry to have on students.

“An increased attentiveness to God,” he exclaimed. “That’s my hope – and that can look like a thousand different things. First and foremost we have to have our minds expanded to see how great God is – His richness. That’s the starting place – wonder.”

According to Gabor, that place of wonder can often be found in Scripture. That’s one of the things he says he learned during his time as a college and seminary student at Briercrest.

“It may sound a little funny, but it really is about letting the text speak,” he explained. “Like sitting long with the text – not running too quickly to commentaries or other people’s opinions, but just soaking in the text because there is such richness.”

The Briercrest alumnus lives in Caronport with his wife, and six children ranging in age from preschool to high school. He says having the students aware of his family has been a benefit.

“I think students like it,” he explained. “I think they like to see me as a husband and a father. It’s also good in a whole life way – because your life isn’t parceled out into these separate pieces.”

This kind of authentic community life is one of the biggest benefits Gabor sees for students coming to Briercrest.

“Students enjoy a level of community and fellowship here that I think I can say is never equaled again in their life,” he exclaimed. “They’ll develop a robust and life-lasting faith here.”

The new chaplain will continue to be RD for the men’s wings in the Whittaker dorm. He will be relinquishing his RD duties with the Eliason college dorm and the men’s high school dorm.

“I’ve had a long relationship with Eliason – all eight years that I’ve been here,” he said. “There are lots of traditions there. I’ll miss the Eliason traditions. We’ve also seen remarkable growth in the high school – not just numbers but also in what that program’s about in terms of discipleship and prayer and Bible study. I’ll miss seeing high school students growing.”

Gabor says he looks forward to the opportunities for collaboration his new role will bring him.

David Cole, Briecrest’s vice president of student development is also looking forward to having Gabor step into his role as chaplain.

“Dan Gabor will make an outstanding successor to Cal MacFarlane as Briercrest’s college chaplain,” he said. “He is a dynamic leader who has earned the respect of students, faculty and staff. He is a fine communicator of the Scriptures, and he has a knack for staying close to the pulse of the students whether they are upbeat or struggling. I believe the Lord has provided the chaplain we need in this pivotal season of Briercrest’s history.”