Ministry takes many forms. Wesley alum Chett Pritchett (MTS, 2003) is clear that, no matter the ministry, one thing is central: relationship building. “Really all church work is about relationships building,” said Pritchett.”It’s about helping people tell their story.”
As former Executive Director of the Methodist Federation for Social Action (MFSA),Pritchett built relationships in his focus on intersectional justice, interfaith partnerships, and social media. Now, in his new role as Assistant Director of Alumni Engagement at Marietta College, he’ll extend those relationship-building skills – and his warm and affable personality – to a whole new community.
When asked by Marietta’s interview panel if he had any questions, Pritchett turned the tables and asked each of them to explain why they had chosen to work for the college.
“Every response was a piece of the ‘Why Marietta’ story,” he said. “Now I want to help the alumni do the same.”
For Pritchett, loving to tell The Story and encourage others’ stories are central to faithful ministry and being Christian.
“If we’re doing church well, we’re empowering people to say ‘Why Christian, Why Jesus, Why Faith,’” he said. “And as people of faith, we start with the original story, with Jesus and with the Creation.”
It’s important, though, that personal narratives have a transformative impact beyond the individual.
“Action is a step of faith and faith is action,” Pritchett pointed out. “As a United Methodist, I see social holiness and personal holiness as yin and yang. I believe that social justice and social action cannot be separated from our grounding as people of faith.”
He acknowledges that relationship building, like all ministry, can be challenging and personally depleting.
“As people of faith doing this work,” he said, “we get to draw on those spiritual disciplines of prayer and worship so we don’t burn out.”
He emphasized that belief in self care with his colleagues at MFSA, including the interns he mentored through Wesley’s Practice in Ministry and Mission (PMM) program.
“As an alum, I really felt the privilege of supervising those students,” he said. “I enjoyed being a mentor, not just because I was helping students learn but because I was learning from them. We built relationships that will last through years and years of ministry.”
In leaving MFSA, Pritchett was acting on those same self-care beliefs. “I wanted to live out my values,” he said. “Some of them are deeply connected to faith. They’re about home and family and creativity and collaboration and mentoring – both to be a mentor and to mentor.”
Marietta College is just 15 minutes from the home of Pritchett’s parents. The career change also returns him to the Appalachian landscape in which he was raised. “Appalachia can grab ahold of your heart in amazing ways,” he said. “There’s something about the land that shapes the people, something that really embraces you.”
He brought that love of the terrain to his studies at Wesley.
“My focus on ecological justice and ethics really informed my course work,” he said. “I’m so thankful for faculty that let me explore those ideas in courses where you might not think there’s a connection, like Biblical Interpretation or Systematic Theology.”
The MTS program provided Pritchett with a welcome breadth of academic freedom. “I could focus on courses that I knew were going to be helpful to me in the future,” he said. “To have that broad view of theological higher education was so important to me. I can talk about scripture in ways I could never do before.”
With his arrival at Marietta College, Pritchett begins a new chapter in his own personal narrative, but that’s just the first step. “When we tell our individual stories, those stories turn into a story of us,” he explained. “Then there’s an imperative that we take action and do something with it.”