Barry McNamara  |  Published February 16, 2023

Ash Wednesday Service

College’s new chaplain to give first campus sermon on Feb. 22; weekly chapel services will begin in March.

FIRST SERMON: The Rev. Dr. John Huxtable last delivered a sermon to his former Virden, Illinois, ... FIRST SERMON: The Rev. Dr. John Huxtable last delivered a sermon to his former Virden, Illinois, congregation at the end of 2022. He is eager to return to the pulpit Feb. 22 to begin the campus and local community's observance of Lent.MONMOUTH, Ill. – Themes of connection and resurrection will be at the forefront at Monmouth College on Feb. 22, when the school’s new chaplain, the Rev. Dr. John Huxtable ’04, leads an ecumenical Ash Wednesday service.

Open to the public, the half-hour service will begin at 12:05 p.m. in the College’s Dahl Chapel and Auditorium.

Later on Ash Wednesday, at 3 p.m., a Catholic Mass will be held in Dahl Chapel.

Looking ahead to March, 12:05 p.m. on Wednesdays will also be when Huxtable will hold a weekly half-hour ecumenical chapel service. Those services, which are also open to the public, will begin March 15, the week Monmouth students return from spring break. Huxtable will lead most of those services, although he expects to invite guest speakers at least once a month.

“This is the beginning of the resurrection of spiritual life on campus,” said Huxtable of the Ash Wednesday service.

It will also be the first sermon Huxtable has delivered since his farewell to his Virden, Illinois, congregation at the end of 2022.

“I’m excited about doing it and about connecting more with people on campus and in the community in a powerful way,” he said. “I want to throw as wide a net as possible and be present for as many people as I can.”

“I’m excited about doing it and about connecting more with people on campus and in the community in a powerful way. I want to throw as wide a net as possible and be present for as many people as I can.” The Rev. Dr. John Huxtable

That not only includes bringing the campus and local community together, but different faiths, as well.

“The ecumenical aspect is an absolutely important part. It’s not a denominational thing,” said Huxtable, who was a student when the Rev. Dr. Kathleen Fannin was Monmouth’s chaplain. “Interfaith is in my DNA. I studied under her, and she was a big believer and practitioner of that. This is a way for me to honor that and hopefully I can do as good a job with it as she did. I just hope to follow that tradition and get everybody involved.”

Huxtable’s Ash Wednesday sermon is titled “Let Us Live,” and he’s eager to set the spiritual tone for the beginning of Lent.

“Lent is this amazing self-reflective, contemplative time,” said Huxtable, whose sermon will address the topic of sin. “Sin is about us hurting each other, which hurts God. When we sin, we miss the mark. Lent is our opportunity to hit the mark.”

Also beginning on Ash Wednesday, Huxtable and Regina Johnson ’01, director of the College’s Champion Miller Center for Student Equity, Inclusion & Community, will facilitate a student group that will read and reflect on Lent devotionals. The book Bread for the Resistance: Forty Devotions for Justice People, by Donna Barber, will be used to guide the discussion.

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