SMC Welcomes Chaplain Tim Drum
by Lisa Mincey Ware
Growing up in Spruce Pine, North Carolina, Rev. Tim Drum never considered a life in the ministry, even though he says his family was closely connected to their local Methodist church. “My parents always had us at church,” he says. “We only missed two Sundays a year, and one of those was spent at my grandmother’s church instead of ours.”
As a boy, Drum served his church as an acolyte, reader, usher, member of the choir and even part-time janitor. When he was 15, his pastor suggested he consider the church his calling. “I said, ‘No, I don’t think so,’ Drum recalls. Undaunted, his pastor convinced him to take the pulpit one Sunday and speak to the congregation. To Drum’s surprise, he liked it. “I was quiet and didn’t enjoy talking, but I discovered I liked talking to people about scripture.”
In spite of that positive experience, it wasn’t until years later, when he began taking classes in journalism at UNC-Chapel Hill, that Drum finally committed to the church.
“I had struggled on and off with deciding between journalism and ministry but decided that journalism was something I should do as a career,” he says. “But I hated the classes; they were so awful. Finally, I said, ‘Okay, God, I hear you. I’ll listen. You win.”
Drum switched his major to religious studies and immediately knew he’d made the right decision. After graduating from UNC-Chapel Hill and completing a master of divinity degree at Duke University, he became a pastor at the Beaverdam and Piney Grove United Methodist churches in Canton, North Carolina, in 2007.
“The two things I enjoyed the most about being a church pastor were preaching and getting to know the congregation,” says Drum. “I loved finding creative ways to explain the word, and I loved knowing our members, the young and the elderly… hearing their stories and learning about their lives.”
Ten years passed, and Drum realized he was being pulled toward campus ministry. It was good timing for SMC: The Rev. Dr. Candice Sloan, SMC’s chaplain for 15 years, was leaving to serve in a church closer to her family. When his district superintendent told him about the opening, Drum saw SMC as a great fit.
When I came down for the interview, it seemed like such a family atmosphere here. And the mission of helping students who might not otherwise be able to go to college resonated with me.
“When I came down for the interview, it seemed like such a family atmosphere here. And the mission of helping students who might not otherwise be able to go to college resonated with me,” he says. “When I tell people about Jesus, what I tell them is that his disciples weren’t the important folks – they were on the fringes. The idea of working at a school that reaches out to students who need help, that was fantastic to me.”
With wife Kristen and two-year-old daughter Harper (named after “To Kill a Mockingbird” author Harper Lee) in tow, Drum started work as SMC’s new chaplain in July.
“We couldn’t be happier to have Tim and his family here,” says President Scott Cochran. “He brings a passion for involving students in the planning, implementation and leadership of their campus Christian development. He has a strong commitment to higher education and to ministry among students and faculty.”
For Drum, religious activities play an important, if sometimes overlooked, role on college campuses. “We want to educate and train students for what comes next in their lives. But focusing only on learning isn’t necessarily healthy. We also need to worry about their souls and their hearts,” he says.
Having access to religious life, whether it’s through chapel services or with one of the religious organizations on campus, says Drum, can ease the transition to college. “Even if you’re moving from a large high school to a small school like SMC, it’s still a transition.
It’s helpful, I think, to have some spiritual guidance during that time.”
A priority for Drum is helping to introduce students to different styles of worship during his weekly chapel services. “Not every student here is a Southern white Methodist like me. I want them to experience something familiar but also something diﬀerent. I want to know what they would like to see happening in chapel services.”
In addition to his responsibilities of leading worship, taking care of the chapel, providing counseling and organizing campus religious activities, Drum says he also wants to help interested students learn what it means to work in a church.
“When I was a student, the only thing I knew about being a minister was that you were at a church,”
he notes. “I want our students to leave SMC knowing how to serve as a trustee or on the administrative council – to learn about how a church operates rather than just attending on Sundays.”