By Nate Stein ’24
On Monday, February 6th, Dr. Hulsey announced a new appointment for the 2023-2024 school year: Mr. John Amos will succeed the Reverend Tyler Montgomery as school chaplain.
Mr. Amos’ initial reaction was shock.
“I was really, really surprised because it never crossed my mind for [Dr. Hulsey] to consider me for that [position] … but what really surprised me was how quickly I said yes.”
Customarily, the chaplain’s responsibilities include delivering weekly chapel talks and teaching the elective Bible course, and Mr. Amos will take over both next year.
One of the things that Mr. Amos is most excited for is getting to write a homily every week. He compared it with the column he used to write in the local papers.
“When I was writing a newspaper column, it was a self-imposed deadline. Here, this is going to be an imposed deadline, so I have to have something ready for Monday night … With my newspaper column, I could write about whatever the heck I wanted to write about. With a homily, I think I’m probably going to write about whatever the lectionary readings are, and occasionally whatever the community might need to hear.”
As of right now, Mr. Amos is planning to teach only Bible next year and take a break from English, just to establish himself in the new position. In fact, he mentioned that stepping away from English would be one of the hardest things about adjusting to his new role.
As his English students know, Mr. Amos often assigns readings from the Bible and treats it as a piece of writing. In his Bible class, though, he wants to take a different approach.
“I’m not going to teach the Bible as literature. I’m going to teach the Bible as what I think it is—the living word of God.”
Mr. Amos continued, “[The Bible class] is very clearly in my mind not going to be a Sunday school class. It’s not going to be a class for indoctrinating people, telling you what to believe. It’s going to be a class that asks you to read a really important work, read it closely, and see what it says to you.”
In terms of broader spiritual life at Woodberry Forest, Mr. Amos also had some thoughts.
“I want to figure out a way to keep [the chapel program] alive when students are in the moment in chapel and then hopefully, when they walk out of the chapel, affect how they think and live and behave.”
When Dr. Hulsey reached out to offer Mr. Amos the job, he asked Mr. Amos if he had any ideas about increasing Woodberry’s involvement with the Orange community. Mr. Amos and his wife, both residents of Orange, had an idea. They wanted Woodberry to possibly become a “big brother” school for some of the local elementary schools. This would entail students devoting time to community service, donations, tutoring, running after-school activities, and more.
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