Jennifer Gingerich ’02

Major: Bible, religion and philosophy

Now: Youth pastor and community center coordinator at Salem Mennonite Church, Salem, Oregon.

What are the most challenging and enjoyable aspects of your job?

Challenges in my youth ministry work include scheduling conflicts and learning how to resolve differences between personality styles; at the community center, I work with a really diverse population. Learning how to be culturally sensitive, as well as model good behavior for kids who come from very troubled backgrounds is at times a struggle.

Helping youth think more seriously about their faith, and exploring different aspects of spirituality is a highlight of my youth ministry. I really enjoy the spiritual mentoring – listening to what they are going through and being someone in their life who cares for and about them is very rewarding. Working with a diverse population of youth at the community center is a dual learning experience. Even through they are so troubled, they are a joy to be with.

How has your Goshen College experience shaped and prepared you for what you are doing now?

The academics at Goshen College were great. Of course, SST was very helpful; the international focus helped prepare me to be more sensitive when working with people of various backgrounds. The openness at Goshen College – the community of people willing to dive into difficult issues and tackle big questions – helped prepare me to be able to do that with other people.

What are your vocation and life goals?

One life goal is to be a spiritual director and to continue to help individuals and groups of people foster their spiritual growth. Another goal is to work for peace and social justice in the world through various avenues.

How has Goshen’s motto, “Culture for Service,” impacted the way you choose to live and pursue your vocational calling?

My entire mindset for my life, before I came to Goshen, was to be a person who lives a life of service. This was ultimately why I chose to come to Goshen College – I knew service would be modeled there. The global citizen perspective was a pull as well. I want to be a citizen of the world, aware of what’s going on beyond North America.