Thursday, September 28, 2006

A Protestant chaplain at Georgetown University has resigned amid fallout from the school barring outside evangelical groups from having an official presence on campus.

“I had no idea that what would unfold would be what unfolded — the absolute dismissal of these groups,” said the Rev. Derrick Harkins, a Baptist minister who was a part-time Protestant chaplain at the Catholic university. “There was pretty much a ‘not welcome’ sign being placed out.”

Mr. Harkins, who is pastor of the 19th Street Baptist Church in Northwest, was hired by Georgetown in late August, after the school decided to bar the groups.

School officials said yesterday that they had no knowledge that Mr. Harkins resigned because of their decision Aug. 17 to bar six Protestant groups from operating as Affiliated Ministries on campus.

“We are not aware that he resigned over the decision regarding Affiliated Ministries,” Georgetown spokesman Erik Smulson said. “We wish Reverend Harkins well and respect his decision.”

Under the ban, the groups can neither hold worship services and retreats nor help students move into dorms. The groups also are prohibited from using the Georgetown name in publicity. However, students still can invite outside groups to campus for prayer and fellowship, but the groups cannot operate as part of the campus ministry.

Georgetown has since formed an advisory committee to evaluate its relationship with off-campus ministries, and several ministry leaders are members. But officials said the committee’s formation does not mean the decision will be reversed.

Mr. Harkins acknowledged that he was aware of the ban when he joined the chaplaincy, but that he now thinks Georgetown’s plans to serve Protestant students through its campus ministry lacked forethought and may not be feasible.

He submitted his resignation letter Sept. 17 to the Rev. Constance Wheeler, Georgetown’s senior Protestant chaplain.

Mr. Harkins said the “added challenges” facing the chaplaincy would “require significant time and energy beyond my initial expectations.”

“I think it was a severe underestimation of the time and effort and all the things that would be needed to develop those ministries,” he said. “I was personally troubled by the distinction that was continually made between evangelical students and Affiliated Ministries and other Protestant ministries.”

Copyright © 2022 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide