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The Chaplain’s Office Brown Bag Series will kick off its 2004-05 events with The Rev. John Patrick Colatch, Lafayette’s new director of religious life and College chaplain, who will lead a discussion on “Faith and the Academy” noon Friday at Interfaith Chapel, Hogg Hall.

The discussion will focus on “the role of one’s religious faith in the context of the academic community.” Lunch may be brought or purchased for $3; those on the College meal plan may use Flex. For more information, contact the Office of Religious Life at x5320.

An ordained minister in the United Methodist Church, Colatch assumed his new position July 1, following the resignation of The Rev. Gary R. Miller, who had served as College chaplain for 31 years.

“I am excited to build on an already strong religious life program at Lafayette,” Colatch says. “I am especially interested in further integrating the work of the Office of Religious Life into the overall social, service, and intellectual life of the college community. I welcome the opportunity to meet students, faculty, and staff as I begin my life here.”

Under Colatch, Allegheny’s religious life program was featured in the Templeton Foundation’s Guide to Colleges That Build Character in 1999. Colatch also was an instructor in Allegheny’s religious studies department. He designed and taught two courses, “Death and Dying in Western Culture” and “American Christianity and Social Justice: From Finney to King and Beyond.”

He served as campus pastor and executive director of the Wesley Foundation Campus Ministry at the University of Delaware (1986-90), then as chaplain at Ferrum College in Virginia (1990-94) before taking the post at Allegheny.

Prior to beginning his ministry in higher education, Colatch served two United Methodist Churches in western Pennsylvania and North Carolina as parish pastor from 1979-86 following his graduation from Duke Divinity School, where he earned a master of divinity degree with a concentration in pastoral care.

Last year Colatch completed a doctor of ministry degree in transformative leadership from Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School, where he received a $20,000 James C. Baker Graduate Award for advance study from the United Methodist Church. His dissertation was titled “Welcoming the Stranger: Practices of Hospitality as a Prophetic Witness to Gay and Lesbian Persons in the United Methodist Church.”

In addition to Christianity and the concerns of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and trans-gendered community, his research interests include issues related to end-of-life concerns, Christianity and the social order, social justice concerns, and religious identity in the midst of diversity.

In 1987 he earned a master of science in education degree in the field of pastoral counseling from Duquesne University. A native of Connellsville, Pa., he did his undergraduate work at West Virginia Wesleyan College, receiving a bachelor of arts degree with a major in Bible/religion and a minor in psychology in 1976.

Colatch is past president of the National Association of College and University Chaplains and currently serves as the association’s membership secretary. He is a member of the Methodist Federation for Social Action, American Academy of Religion, and executive board of the Western Pennsylvania Annual Conference Board of Ordained Ministry.

He and his wife, Connie, are the parents of a daughter, Carly, who is a junior at Allegheny College, and a son, Zachary, a first-year student at West Virginia Wesleyan College.

Colatch enjoys running, weight lifting, and biking, along with music and gardening.

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