University announces new campus minister

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University announces new campus minister

Story by Sara Bell, Editor

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Whether he’s on campus as a student, basketball coach, father or minister, Kevin Hopkins is no stranger to a university setting.

Although Hopkins has been away from a college campus for a few years, he will return to student ministry at Baker University on July 1. He will succeed current Minister to the University Ira DeSpain, who has served his alma mater since 1992.

Hopkins currently works as the senior pastor for Leavenworth First United Methodist Church but previously served in campus ministry at universities in Kansas and Illinois. The father of six, who prefers to be called Rev. Kev or simply Kevin, is excited for the opportunity to work at Baker and once again help students with “this spiritual chapter in their lives.”

“Wherever I have been, I’ve tried to provide a faith home away from home with a chapel program or campus ministry,” Hopkins said. “It can be such a challenging time for a lot of young people’s lives, to be away from home for the first time and experience a lot of feelings around that, and for the first time in their lives, making some decisions about their faith on their own. So as a campus minister, being an integral part of that is what I’ve always done and what I enjoy so much about campus ministry.”

During the application process, University President Pat Long also noticed Hopkins’ desire to work with students and return to “his calling” as a campus minister.

“I could see him here. I could see him on the campus. I could see him working with our students,” Long said. “He was just a fit, but that’s not to stay that the others wouldn’t have been good too because we really had four outstanding candidates.”

Before beginning his appointment in Leavenworth in 2010, Hopkins served as the pastor of Grace United Methodist Church in Winfield, and as the campus minister for Southern Illinois University and Kansas Wesleyan University. Through all of his experience, the University of Kansas alumnus is looking forward to using his background in Methodism to strengthen Baker’s roots in the United Methodist Church.

“I think Baker does have a lot of Methodist tradition and Methodist roots, and I’m definitely a United Methodist pastor,” Hopkins said. “But I think one of the strengths of the United Methodist Church is that we are a very tolerant denomination. We embrace, we are very ecumenical. So I look forward to working with other student groups, other religious groups as well, but also strengthening our Methodist roots and heritage in whatever ways possible.”

Hopkins said ideally Baker chapel services will include music, prayer and short devotionals.

“I often tell that students sit in lectures all day–they don’t want to come to chapel and it be another lecture,” Hopkins said. “So it would be more of a short devotional, give them something to grab on to for the week. On top of that, some fellowship and just hopefully 30 minutes of inspirational time that they can walk away with.”

After a nationwide search, Brian Posler, executive vice president for academic affairs and dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, announced Hopkins’ appointment in a campus-wide email on Thursday.

“This institution has been blessed with a caring and dedicated leader of our Methodist ministry for 22 years,” Posler wrote. “Ira, your service has been remarkable; you will be dearly missed. I am confident, however, that the transition will be smooth and you all will enjoy getting to know Rev. Hopkins.”

Hopkins said he and his family are also excited for this transition period. The family enjoys being involved in student-life activities and plan to attend as many sporting, music and theater events as possible.

“We have always involved ourselves on campuses whenever I have worked on campuses,” Hopkins said. “Our door is kind of an open door with students for game nights, movies nights, and my kids have all been a part of that. This is kind of a family affair with us.”