Wheaton magazine

Volume 19 // Issue 1
Wheaton magazine // Winter 2016

Introducing Wheaton’s Sixth Chaplain: Rev. Timothy Blackmon

Q: Why did you and President Ryken select 1 Corinthians 2:2, “For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (NIV), as the 2015-16 Year Verse? 

A: This passage is the centerpiece of Paul’s theology of the Cross. Paul says the Cross changes everything. I chose this verse because when I look at what students are dealing with today, they face pressures from within and without, cultural pressures, political pressures, questions about identity, sexuality, theology—you name it. The question for Wheaton students this year is, “What is going to cut through the noise? What is the crux of the matter?” Through 1 Corinthians 2:2, we find the Cross is the crux of the matter. This is where we discover who God is, how God works through sacrificial love, and we even discover who we are. I hope this theme sets the stage for my entire ministry at Wheaton. This verse and the reality to which it points is the fountain from which all comforts flow. Every comfort, every bit of happiness, every joy, flows from the work of Christ on the cross. 

Q: What are some of your goals for your first year at Wheaton?

A: I would like to make sure students understand and experience chapel as an essential component of their education at Wheaton. I hope students will see their studies are ultimately doxological—they lead to, and must end in, worship. Worship is the appointed consummation of everything students are doing. Worship is the integral aspect of the Wheaton College curriculum. When we gather for worship we celebrate the gospel, pray, build community, and practice our faith together. In worship, we can learn to integrate our faith and life. This is my number one priority. Also, I want to play a role in influencing the spiritual atmosphere on campus in a way that students will know three things: first, love undeserving of the Father. I desire students to experience complete undeserved grace and favor in a high-performance and academically rigorous context. Second, the easy yoke of Jesus. In Matthew 11:28, Jesus says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” I hope students will get under the easy yoke of Jesus in the midst of the busyness. Finally, the power of the Holy Spirit. I hope students will exchange the desire to be super-spiritual or phenomenal in their approach to the world for the great freedom and joy that comes in serving in the power of the Holy Spirit. 

Q: What challenges do you expect to encounter during your first year at Wheaton? 

A: Students come to Wheaton with a wide variety of experiences, backgrounds, and worldviews, and not all of these experiences are deeply informed and influenced by Christian theology or a deep understanding of Scripture. Our hope as an institution and as the chaplain’s office is that four years from now students will have a deep awareness of who God is, what the Scriptures teach, and where the student fits into His story. A second serious challenge for students today is figuring out issues related to sexuality and sexual identity. And lastly, I think technology and social media shape and influence the way students relate, behave, and think, and sometimes this can hinder students’ ability to give their undivided and sustained attention to something big and beautiful that is right in front of them. 

Q: What are some hobbies you enjoy?

A: I’ve been reading voraciously for decades. Reading is partly passion, work, and hobby. I work hard at scheduling time to read slowly and prayerfully. Each week I’ll plan some larger blocks of time to read, study, prepare, and pray. I love music, too. I love leading worship and playing keyboard in the band. I am also an avid sports fan, though I prefer to play over watching. I love basketball and tennis. I recently had the opportunity to play with the Wheaton men’s tennis team, and I must say, they are exceptional. 

Q: Can you name three of your favorite authors and books?

A: Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be: A Breviary of Sin by Cornelius Plantinga Jr. (Eerdmans, 1996); Biblical Theology by Geerhardus Vos (Banner of Truth, 1975); and On Being a Theologian of the Cross by Gerhard Forde (Eerdmans, 1997). 

Wheaton College Chaplain's Office

Learn more about the Chaplain's Office staff and mission on their website:

Q: What is one thing you would like Wheaties worldwide to know? 

A: When alumni think of Wheaton College, I hope they will not only pray for our graduates to become decent, hard-working, churchgoing, tax-paying citizens and neighbors, but that they would pray these students will be shaped by the deep passions, virtues, and habits of the kingdom of God. My prayer is that we produce students with a deep love for the Scriptures and a passionate engagement in the work of God in the world, whether they end up in vocational ministry or not. I pray Wheaties everywhere will go into politics, law, business, sports, health care, or education as co-conspirators for the kingdom. When alumni think of us, I hope they will pray for students who are united in standing for Christ and his kingdom.


Q: Can you tell us three goals for your first year at Wheaton?

A: First, to develop strong relationships with students, faculty, staff, and administration. Second, to assess the climate of discipleship on Wheaton’s campus and to define what the “whole Wheaton College student” looks like co-curricularly. Third, to learn from the rich history of Wheaton. Though I attended Wheaton as a student, it’s a completely different animal being here as staff. I hope to watch, ask questions, listen, and learn from my esteemed colleagues and the impressive student body during my first year.

Q: Are there any challenges you expect to encounter during your first year at Wheaton?

A: I can think of two very important areas in my life that could simultaneously enhance and create challenges during my first year at Wheaton. First, I’m finishing up at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (TEDS)–so working full time while attending school full time can be challenging. I also have an hour commute each way, which doesn’t make it easier. Second, wanting to spend all my time with the students. I love the students, and I can see myself being unproductive because I’m having so much fun with everyone. But Chaplain Blackmon has been great in reminding me that our roles are in service of students and that if making more time to pray, talk, or meet with students is required, then we are fulfilling the mission of our positions.

Q: Can you tell us a little about your wife, Jessica Min Chang ’12?

A: My wife is incredible! Jessica was the first Korean American Wheaton College student body president and the eighth female president in the history of Wheaton College. It’s amazing how students still come to me now and talk about the imprint Jessica left on student government. Our Wheaton “love story” actually began a few years after I graduated from Wheaton and Jessica was still a student. Our first interaction, which included a social media message and an introduction through Steve Ivester (Wheaton College Dean for Student Engagement), was nonromantic, but as our friendship grew, I knew within a short length of time that Jessica was going to be my wife (it took her a little more time to know I was the one). Jessica also served on the Wheaton College Board of Visitors and currently works at Trinity International University as the director of Advancement Partnerships.

Q: What are three unique hobbies or interests you have?

A: I don’t know if they are unique, but travel, food, and nice Bibles. I have two really nice Bibles. There is something about the word of God being housed well—I cherish and handle it that much more carefully. I received a beautiful goatskin Cambridge Bible for my wedding from my in-laws. My next hope is to get an Allan Bible to add to my collection.

Q: Who are your favorite authors?

A: Can I say anyone beyond C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien? I do love Lewis and Tolkien, but I love A. W. Tozer, Tim Keller, Eugene Peterson, and J. I. Packer, too.

Q: What is your favorite Wheaton moment so far?

A: Hands down, preaching the gospel to the student body. I love to preach, and I love seeing that students are finding God’s word to be helpful to them.


Q: During your time in this role over the past 19 years, you have gained unique insight into the Chaplain’s Office. What are a few things that our readers should know about the Chaplain’s Office?  

A: I believe that the Lord’s Providence has shown his wisdom in fitting the staff in the Chaplain’s Office to particular ‘seasons’ at the College. Chaplain Emeritus Dr. Stephen Kellough ’70 brought humility, wisdom, and grace to his role, and a peacemaker’s heart for understanding and valuing a wide spectrum of people. While lending dignity and gravitas to the position, and helping the College navigate the vicissitudes that marked his tenure, Chaplain Kellough was also known for his humor and willingness to take part in everyday life at Wheaton through cameo appearances in Class Films, floor meetings, and more. 

Though new to the College as of July 1, Chaplain Blackmon's impact and influence has already been widely felt in worship through teaching and music ministry, as well as through numerous events and meaningful interactions with faculty, staff, and students. His dynamic personality and vision for the work of the Chaplain’s Office has brought a freshness and renewed focus on the Gospel and centrality of the Cross. In addition to an impressive array of gifts and abilities, a rich background, and international experience, one of the things I appreciate most about Chaplain Blackmon is his commitment to spending time in prayer and study in the Word in company with the Lord. 

Similarly, Ray Chang brings new vision to his role as Ministry Associate for Discipleship, as well as a passion for the Gospel and the preaching of God’s Word. Ray’s own years as a student at Wheaton and his understanding of the experience of minorities on campus will undoubtedly be used of the Lord to further the College in becoming a place of ‘home’ and belonging for all.

Q: What is important to you as you serve in the Chaplain’s Office?

A: Pastoral care for students and seeking to please the Lord by contributing in a small way to the spiritual care and climate on campus.


Q: Can you tell us what it’s like to work with Chaplain Blackmon and Ray Chang?

A: I have told many people that Chaplain Blackmon is the perfect fit for the chaplaincy of Wheaton College right now. He brings a unique combination of brilliant scholarship, the heart and gifting of a worship leader, a natural ability to connect with students, strong organizational leadership and vision, and a healthy dose of humor. He and Ray make a great team, as Ray also offers a depth of insight, clear passion for the gospel, an ease in relating to students, and strong teaching and leadership skills.

Q: What is your favorite part of working at Wheaton?

A: Being a part of a Christian institution whose leadership and mission I wholeheartedly support, respect, and trust.

Rebecca Queen Meyer ’12, Ministry Associate for Care and Counseling

Q: What are three goals you have for your new ministry position?

A: First, to encourage students toward a thriving relationship with Jesus Christ. Second, to be available to students in need, to speak biblical truth into their lives, and to pray with them. Third, my position is specifically designed to reach students or groups of students that might feel isolated or invisible on campus. One goal would be for these students to feel known and valued during their time at Wheaton.

Q: What is your favorite part of working in the Chaplain’s Office at Wheaton? 

A: Being involved in conversations regarding our identity in Christ, specifically our sexuality, is a great privilege and by far my favorite part. I think this will be the defining conversation for my generation. The longer I study the Bible and receive wisdom from people older and wiser than myself I realize that our sexuality and how we express ourselves is inextricably tied to our relationship with God.

Q: What has been a highlight of working with Chaplain Blackmon?

A: When you walk into Chaplain Blackmon’s office you will notice many aesthetically interesting pieces of art in his space. He has a stool of a carved elephant, Rembrandt’s Return of the Prodigal Son, and tucked behind his door are three stunning handmade stoles. Chaplain Blackmon is passionate about worship as well as an avid athlete. I say all this because my favorite part about working with him is his willingness to engage in the here and now while pointing the staff and students to the eternal hope we have in Christ. Because he values our physical experience on earth he will guide our campus to stay rooted in reality and not retreat to an ideological ivory tower. I value that immensely because it challenges me to not lose touch with how our beliefs impact our daily lives.


Q: What are three goals you have for your new ministry position? 

A: First, to mentor and encourage student leaders passionate about worship; second, to piece together the foundation for a new Worship Apprentice Program; third, to review and improve the student leadership selection process.

Q: What is your favorite part of working in the Chaplain’s Office at Wheaton? 

A: I greatly enjoy the fresh and enthusiastic environment facilitated by Tim Blackmon and the Chaplain’s Office staff—its unique mesh of light-hearted humor with radical, thoughtful ministry leaves me continually refreshed to engage students.

Q: What has been a highlight of working with Chaplain Blackmon? 

A: My favorite part of working with Chaplain Blackmon is the connection we both have as internationals. With his history with The Hague and mine with Japan, there is a unique “foreign-ness” we share that keeps us challenging the standard Midwestern American model for ministry, keeps us asking good questions, and keeps us laughing at ourselves.


Q: As a student chaplain, what have you observed about Chaplain Blackmon and Ray Chang?

A (Kylie '16): Reverend Blackmon is a man who seeks only to boast in the name of Jesus Christ. He is not a perfect man, but he has a perfect Redeemer. I am confident that Chaplain Blackmon and Ray Chang will lead Wheaton with grace and renewed vision. I am honored to be working with both of these leaders this year.

A (Ben '16): I don't really believe in accidents or mistakes when it comes to the sovereign nature of the almighty God. I think that God leads people to specific places during specific times for specific purposes, and that is exactly what is playing out right now with Tim's ministry to the campus. We do not serve a God of coincidences. Tim is here for a reason. Tim has been driving home this principle: "The cross tests everything." Our prayer as the Chaplain's Office is this: that every student might encounter the cross of Jesus Christ, and that in all things, they might be informed and confronted by it. Indeed, the Cross will test all things in our lives. We must ponder how the tree on which the Prince of Peace was slain informs how we live our daily lives. This is the reminder that Tim has charged us as student chaplains with, and we get the unique privilege of learning how to live our lives modeling that principle.


Q: As Rev. Blackmon and Ray Chang begin their journeys as Wheaton College’s spiritual advisers, are there any words of advice that you would like to offer them?

A: As I came on campus this morning, I actually prayed for Chaplain Blackmon and for Ray Chang. I prayed that though they might feel overwhelmed right now, they would be given great wisdom to discern the important things in the midst of the urgent and the ability to care for their own souls even as they are busy caring for others.

Q: Can you tell us three goals for your first year as Wheaton’s first Graduate School chaplain?

A: First, to look for strategic ways to establish a connection with every person in the Graduate School. Second, to pray a lot and trust the Lord; to use my gifts and be who I am. Third, to create a lasting pastoral presence that will serve the students, faculty, and staff of the Graduate School.