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Ott named new chaplain

Barry McNamara
A once-familiar face has been named chaplain at Monmouth College.

The Rev. Dr. Teresa McDowell Ott, who served as MC’s chaplain intern during the 1996-97 academic year, will begin her duties on campus on Jan. 5.

“After many years without leadership in the areas of religious and spiritual life, Rev. Ott was the college’s first chaplain intern,” said vice president for student life Jacquelyn Condon. “Her work was central to paving the way for the permanent chaplaincy, as her skills with students and her effective approach to her ministry touched our students’ lives and reminded us of the importance of this position. Now, she returns to finish what she began.”

Ott completed her bachelor’s degree at another liberal arts Presbyterian college, Alma, where she majored in Spanish. She was in the midst of studying for a master’s degree at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary when she accepted the Monmouth internship, a degree she completed in 1998. Ten years later, Ott received her doctor of ministry degree from McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago, where her thesis was entitled “Encouraging Faith Development Through Worship.”

Ott is ordained in the Presbyterian Church (USA) and has served in three churches, most recently at Cameron Presbyterian Church in North Carolina. She brings with her not only experience as a solo pastor, but also in leading retreats, mission trips and ministering to youth and young adults. In addition, she has served as a guest speaker and taught classes at St. Andrews Presbyterian College.

“I love working with young adults,” Ott said. “They’re at an exciting time in their lives, growing and exploring and learning what they can be. I enjoy helping young adults discover their gifts and their potential. It’s fun to walk with them on that journey. They ask good questions and they’re thoughtful and creative, so they’ll challenge me, too.”

Although Ott wants to reacquaint herself with the campus before deciding which programs to implement at Monmouth, several goals are very clear.

“Your previous chaplain, Kathleen Fannin, leaves a wonderful legacy, and I want to continue her good work,” said Ott. “I’m looking forward to leading and creating worship experiences and especially to working with the student chaplains.”

“I’m also just excited to come to Monmouth and get to know people,” she concluded, adding, “Climbing that rock wall and running on that track in the Huff Center are definitely two of my goals, as well.”

Ott noted she is looking forward to continuing Monmouth’s connection with the Presbyterian Church, with “connection” being the key word.

“We Presbyterians think of ourselves as ‘connectional’ people,” she explained. “For example, it was very easy after Hurricane Katrina to call down to the Presbytery in that area and quickly connect regarding what groups we could send down and what they could do. I’m looking forward to bringing with me those types of connections and fostering them.”

She continued, “Our Presbyterian colleges and universities are doing a great job of educating students as people with a great foundation. The Presbyterian Church resources colleges very well and, in turn, I think colleges can resource the church.”

Ott’s husband, the Rev. Dr. Daniel Ott will also join the college as a visiting assistant professor. The Otts have two young children.