ADRIAN — Pastor April Gutierrez returns to her hometown as the new Chaplain and Director of Spiritual Life at Adrian College.
After having a calling to return to higher education, the opportunity at Adrian College opened and Gutierrez was thrilled to accept the position in the town where she grew up. It’s been many years since she last lived in Adrian.
“The past three years I have been blessed to be the pastor of Berry United Methodist Church in Chicago and have been prayerfully discerning ordained ministry,” Gutierrez said. “I started a doctoral program while I was there in Spiritual Direction and got to the point where I needed to determine what my project would be, and was in conversations my advisor who said, ‘the next five to eight years need to be focused on your project.’ And I just knew that God was calling me to higher education.”
Gutierrez was the first year experience campus minister at Loyola University in Chicago from 2013 to 2016, and the social justice campus minister/resident minister at Loyola Marymount University from 2010 to 2013.
She was campus minister at Siena Heights University from 2006 to 2008, as well as the founding director of the Office of Intercultural Affairs during that time.
“I saw a need for university students to talk about diversity, for Christian students of color and LGBTQ students to engage in inclusive Christian ministry and to explore their intersecting identities in a safe environment,” Gutierrez said. “I am dedicated to justice and peace, inspired by people of integrity, and enjoy ministering with young adults.”
Gutierrez earned a Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies at Siena Heights University in 2002 and a Master of Arts in Pastoral Ministry, Social Ministries concentration at Boston College’s School of Theology and Ministry in 2009. She received a Master of Arts, Spiritual Formation and Evangelism at the Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in 2017, and expects to graduate from the facility in 2021 with a Doctor of Ministry in Spiritual Direction.
Gutierrez has several years of teaching experience. She taught a Spring Service and Faith Learning Community Seminar course at Loyola University (2014-’15), and Social Ethics (2008), First Year Experience, and Faith, Service and Understanding at Siena Heights University (2006-’08). She also taught World Religions, Personal and Social Ethics, and Church History and Sacraments at Sacred Heart High School in Chicago (2008-’10).
One of the first changes Gutierrez made as the new chaplain is reinstating a Wednesday noon service on Adrian College’s campus at Herrick Chapel, beginning at noon on January 29.
“We’ll have weekly services,” Gutierrez said. “But we’ll rotate the structure of the liturgy so there will be space for creative play and wonder to guide us.”
There will be traditional word and table services she said, as well as services which are a mainly filled with music to study scripture with “Lectio Divina.” She describes her style of preaching as being conversational.
“I love world music, particularly Latin jazz. So, I’ve always loved to be in relationship with the ways in which music informs. Sometimes the song is the sermon for people. We need to treat that with real reverence and understand that every moment is really important. I’m very intentional about crafting prayers and choosing music.”
She hopes to also create space for retreat, to get away for rest and renewal.
“Discernment is really only possible when we get away and take some time to breathe and reflect,” Gutierrez said.
She resides in Adrian with her husband, Evan, and two children, Silvio, 10, and Miriam, 5.
Gutierrez’s office is located on the campus of Adrian College in Valade Hall, Room 133. Call her at 517.265.5161, ext. 4300, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.