The Rev. Chuck Currie will return to Pacific after 25 years to serve as director for the Center for Peace and Spirituality and the University Chaplain, bringing his high hopes and refreshing open-mindedness to the department and the school.
Currie is an ordained minister for the United Church of Christ in Portland. He has been well regarded for pastoral ministry, advocacy on issues related to the homeless, housing and health care.
He said the UCC has always been a denomination that believes it is important to work with people from different faith positions and he hopes to bring that ideal with him in his work at Pacific.
“I think each religious person has something unique to offer,” said Currie. “Pacific offers a great opportunity to learn from each other because there are so many students from different religious backgrounds.”
One of the most important pieces of Currie’s work is the advocacy he has done in social work. The Education of Homeless Children and Youth presented him with their Distinguished Service and Leadership Award in 2011.
“I have always been a vocal advocate and plan to continue to use my voice and speak out to the community,” he said.
Currie’s commitment to the community fits seamlessly with the university and was one of the selling points to bringing him to the Center for Peace and Spirituality. He said he is very impressed with the commitment the university has to civic engagement and feels there are a lot of ways to tie that into what is happening with the center.
While some students may shudder at the idea of a chaplain on campus and the idea of a religious center, Currie stressed that the last thing he wants to do is try to convert anyone or preach his ideas. His open-mindedness to the wide breadth of beliefs experienced at a liberal arts school is what sets him apart from the majority of established religious leaders and is something he said he wishes more people had.
“If you’re someone at Pacific and you don’t have a faith background, I’m the last person who will judge you about that,” said Currie. “My job is just to expose you to what’s out there. I want to educate people and look forward to be educated as well.”
After attending Pacific in the 1980’s, Currie got the chance to see how much Pacific has changed since he was last here during a class he taught over winter term.
He explained that using a smart-board and computer to operate a classroom was new to him, being that when he attended Pacific there was no Internet. After laughing it off, he stressed that he is only 45 years old and is not “that old yet.”
Once he acclimated to the technology, Currie said he found the students at Pacific to be inquisitive and committed to their work.
When he’s not in the spotlight, Currie spends most of his time with his wife and twin daughters. He said they love to travel and see movies together but it can be difficult to find down time being a full-time minister.
Currie said he has lived his life in the public eye since he was 18. As a part of that, people have had the chance to watch him grow and know him on more intimate levels than most figures in the media. While he is extremely dedicated to his work, he said family is still and will always be incredibly important to him.
Also high up on Currie’s list of importance is his “geeky” obsession with Star Trek, which he plans to bring with him to Pacific, putting all of his Star Trek toys out on his desk. Anyone who doesn’t believe his dedication to sci-fi is encouraged to go to professor Dave Boersema’s office and look at the life-sized cutout of Captain Kirk, given as a gift from Currie.
Currie will return to Pacific full-time in the fall. He said there is a strange but nice symmetry to coming back on the administrative side and is excited to engage with the school and students.