Online Campus Pastor Preps for Duty on the Border
By Zane Ewton
As an Air National Guard chaplain, Lance Schrader has experienced ministering to people in high-pressure situations. His mission is to boost morale and provide soldiers with the accommodations to worship freely.
As the new online ministry coordinator and staff chaplain for GCU, he is wearing the same pair of boots — at least until Oct. 1.Shortly after accepting the position with GCU, Schrader received notice that he must report to the Southwest Border Mission to serve troops here in Arizona.
Schrader joined the Air National Guard in 2008 as chaplain of the 161st Air Refueling Wing, located at Sky Harbor International Airport. He describes that choice as the combination of his two greatest passions.
“Love for God and love for my country,” he says. “I love that the Lord has helped me to connect with people who are serving their country.”
“What drew me to GCU was how it was similar to the military. Here is a place where people of all walks of life can talk about God in a safe environment.”
Schrader describes himself as a farm kid from Nebraska. He earned his bachelor’s degree at Trinity International University in Deerfield, Ill., and his Master of Divinity at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago.
He met his wife, Karla, while attending Moody. They married and moved to her hometown of Phoenix in May 2007. His most recent position was as the director of spiritual life at Scottsdale Christian Academy.
The new position has two parts. As online ministry coordinator, Schrader will be an online campus pastor intent on engaging online students in spiritual life — similar to what traditional-campus students have in Tim Griffin.
In his role as staff chaplain, Schrader will focus on GCU staff who are not on campus and thus do not have access to Chapel and other Spiritual Life events.
“The first step is to discuss with staff and online students about what they want and need,” he says. “My primary focus is meeting the needs of our students and trusting in the Lord to guide us.”
Some of his ambitions for online resources include an online prayer chain, live chats while watching Chapel, online Bible study, church-finder resources and more. These will develop over time, but in the meantime Schrader will stick to the basics.
“Prayer and the Word of God – that’s what we are all about,” he says.
Schrader will have an interim replacement as he serves at the Southwest Border Mission, and he intends to return to GCU when his tour is over.
Contact Zane Ewton at 602.639.7086 or [email protected].