Trevecca names next university chaplain

Erik R. Gernand will serve as Trevecca Nazarene University’s next chaplain, Trevecca announced today.

Since 2008, Gernand has served as the pastor of Real Life Community Church of the Nazarene in Murfreesboro, Tenn. In that role, he nurtured the growth of the young church and helped to facilitate three church plants.

He is excited to become more involved with Trevecca’s students and play a vital role in their spiritual development.

“Ashley and I have always thought the world of the Trevecca Community,” Gernand said, referencing his wife, Ashley, who will join him in a part-time role at the University, helping to mentor worship bands and design chapel worship. “We’re excited to be a part of such a transformational time in the life of students and look forward to great days ahead.”

Previously, Gernand served as a young adult and preaching pastor at the First Church of the Nazarene in Jackson, Mich., and as an adjunct professor at Spring Arbor University in Spring Arbor, Mich. Since 2012, he has served as a chaplain for Trevecca’s School of Graduate and Continuing Studies as well as an adjunct professor in the University’s Christian ministry program.

Ashley has served as the worship pastor at Real Life Community Church since 2012. She previously served in a similar role at First Church of the Nazarene in Jackson, Mich.

“Trevecca has a rich history in the chaplaincy with pastoral leaders like Dr. Tim Green and Shawna Songer Gaines,” said Dr. Dan Boone, Trevecca’s president. “I want to express my appreciation to them for their help in selecting our next chaplain. They, along with the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees, the student development team, the Trevecca board chair and members of the Trevecca cabinet have guided this process.”

Green, who filled the role of Trevecca’s chaplain for 25 years, cited Gernand’s commitment to helping students, faculty and staff “discover and live out” their Christian faith.

“Over the period that I had the great opportunity to serve as Trevecca’s chaplain, it increasingly became obvious to me that the overarching role of the university chaplain is to provide a context and ministry that is deeply committed to long-term formation of students and to the shaping of a culture in which students and employees can discover and live out their Christian identity and calling,” Green said. “There is no doubt in my mind that Rev. Gernand brings precisely that commitment and the skill set for Christian identity formation at Trevecca. He ably communicates the Christian faith in a simple and easily understandable way and is adept at relating biblical and theological truths to real life.”

Gaines, who most recently served in the role of chaplain at Trevecca, transitioned out of that role in November to serve as the senior pastor of Trevecca Community Church. In her letter of recommendation concerning the Gernands, Gaines stressed the impact the couples’ shared ministry could have on students.

“Chaplaincy ministry walks with students through some of the most tumultuous years of their life,” she wrote in her letter of recommendation to the Executive Committee. “During these young adult years, students feel displaced from family and can become isolated from intergenerational relationships, which are proven to ground a young person’s faith. I found that having my family be an active part of life and ministry on campus was a healthy dynamic for our students to witness. Erik and Ashley would model a healthy marriage and be an influential presence on the campus.”

The Office of the Chaplain is housed within the Center for Student Development, a campus unit created last August that combines the work of a number of departments, including the former Center for Leadership, Calling and Service, Office of the Chaplain, student services and residential life. Jessica Dykes, associate vice president and dean of student development, leads the work of the center.

In addition to his pastoral experience, Gernand holds both bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, Ill., as well as a Master of Divinity from Nazarene Theological Seminary. Ashley earned a bachelor’s degree in music from Olivet Nazarene University.

They are the parents of three children, Anna, Grey and Boone. They live in Murfreesboro, Tenn. The Gernands will begin their roles in mid-May.

About Trevecca Nazarene University

Trevecca Nazarene University is a Christian university in the heart of Nashville focused on preparing students for lives of leadership and service. Founded in 1901, Trevecca is committed to holistic education, encouraging students to grow intellectually, socially, emotionally, physically and spiritually.

This commitment extends from Trevecca’s historic main campus just one mile from thriving downtown Nashville to four other locations across the Southeast, including Tennessee and Atlanta, and online classes offered worldwide. With students from 47 states and 25 countries, Trevecca offers 17 associate degrees, 80 undergraduate majors,16 master’s programs, and three doctoral programs, as well as specialist and certificate programs.

U.S. News & World Report ranked Trevecca as a national university in the annual “2019 America’s Guide to Colleges,” making the University the only Nazarene institution to receive the national ranking. In 2016, the Carnegie Foundation classified Trevecca as a doctoral university, ranking it among the top 7 percent of schools nationwide.

The campus is certified as both an arboretum and the Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree Campus USA, one of just nine universities and colleges in the state to receive the recognition. A member of NCAA Division II, Trevecca boasts 13 men’s and women’s teams and 12 intramural teams who compete in the Great Midwest Athletic Conference.

Media contact: Mandy Crow,, 615-248-1695