MIT community members from four Protestant denominations will have their first on-campus chaplain in a decade in the person of Rev. John Wuestneck, another addition to the Institute chaplaincy.
Rev. Wuestneck, a Presbyterian minister, works with the Boston-Cambridge Ministry in Higher Education, an ecumenical organization of area campus ministries. He will conduct a weekly service for Presbyterian, Methodist, United Church of Christ and American Baptist worshipers at MIT. The four religious traditions are similar enough that they have "many of the same ingredients" that can be included in one service, he explained. Rev. Wuestneck's work will also include community outreach, such as helping area churches with dinners for the homeless, as well as leading outings, discussion and Bible study groups and counseling.
Before beginning full-time work at MIT this summer, Rev. Wuestneck, a native of Minnesota, worked part-time at other universities in the area including Harvard and Boston University. Prior to his arrival in Boston, he was a parish minister in Lakewood, NJ, where his congregation included students at a nearby college.
Rev. Wuestneck had a brush or two with MIT many years ago while an undergraduate, before he turned to a religious career. While attending the Coast Guard Academy in New London, CT, he sometimes sailed against MIT (and usually won, he recalled), and he considered attending MIT as a graduate student in electrical engineering before opting instead for the seminary at Princeton. Thus, he has some common ground with the students with whom he'll be working; "I have a lot of interests that I consider to be technical," he said.
Rev. Wuestneck is enjoying his new student congregation, which is assisting him with mastering Athena and electronic mail, something he hadn't used before. "At first, I thought it was impersonal, but it's just another way to talk to people and to be available to them," he said. "MIT is a really fun place to work. Everyone's been very helpful."
A version of this article appeared in the September 28, 1994 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 39, Number 6).