I am excited to announce that I have recently accepted the position of Chaplain and Spiritual Animator with UCM Calgary. Our family will be making the 2300 mile move from South Atlanta, Georgia, to Calgary, Alberta to fulfill this new calling on our lives. I’d love to share a little bit about this important mission with you, and let you know some ways that you can help.

There are two parts to the new position I will be filling. First, there is the chaplaincy component. My full-time base will be at the University of Calgary. There are chaplains of many different faiths with whom I will interact regularly. In many regards, this is a very pastoral type role but within a very pluralistic setting. Part of my call in such a context is to exhibit Christian hospitality while living the distinct claims of the gospel of Jesus on a secular campus. The uniqueness of this environment excites me. Much about this part of the role is what you might expect upon hearing the word chaplain: relationship building with students and faculty, facilitator of spiritual practices (weekly prayer and worship, for example), and spiritual direction. Henri Nouwen described spiritual direction as,

a relationship initiated by a spiritual seeker who finds a mature person of faith willing to pray and respond with wisdom and understanding to his or her questions about how to live spiritually in a world of ambiguity and distraction.

This is a large and important part of what a chaplain does. Still, this can give the false impression that a chaplain sits at her desk waiting for people to come and talk to her (“initiated by a spiritual seeker”) about spiritual life. The role that I will be stepping into will be much broader than that and very much encompasses the role of a missionary. For this reason, the team at UCM Calgary have also added the title Spiritual Animator.

The University of Calgary has over 30,000 students from all over the world and will be my main place of ministry. However, I will also be the spiritual animator for two additional campuses: SAIT (Southern Alberta Institute of Technology), and MRU (Mount Royal University). Altogether, there are over 50,000 students, not to mention staff and faculty. Much like a missionary who enters a small city overseas and seeks the wisdom and guidance of the Holy Spirit as to how to reach those there with the good news of Jesus, I will be engaging these three campuses with a similar heart and vision. We desire to see these 50,000+ students and faculty impacted by the Kingdom of Jesus.


I believe that our university campuses are some of our most significant mission fields. We’ve all heard of the incredible percentage of students who leave the faith after high school. Some say that “only one in three Canadian young adults who attended church weekly as a child still does so today.” Of course, the number of students in Canada who consider themselves Christian before beginning University is very low to begin with. Throughout the various ministry experiences I have had, one of my greatest joys has been engaging with skeptical Christian young adults. I’ve come to realize that they are asking such great questions. They are usually not nearly as far from the faith as they (and sometimes we) might imagine! I desire to help them find God in the questions. Abraham Heschel once wrote, “You cannot find Him {God} in the answer if you ignore Him in the question.” What better place to find God in the question than the academy?

Aside from those who are wandering from, or struggling with, their faith, there are those who have not made any faith commitment at all. Many have called these the religious “nones.” This would describe the vast majority of Canadian students. Still, many of these people have all kinds of questions about life and meaning. Typically, they aren’t walking through the doors of our churches to find answers. We need to go to them. This is where the title “spiritual animator” comes in. To animate is to “bring to life.” On campus, I will seek to “bring to life” the questions, longings, and even the skepticism that students and faculty may have. I believe that God can be found there! Of course, I don’t want just to do this myself; I’m excited to encourage and equip our Christian students to do the same both on campus, and, as they leave, in their workplaces around the world!

My son was asking us how we will be missionaries if we are in Canada. “Don’t missionaries travel to other parts of the world?” Marisa explained to Spencer that the “other parts of the world” have come to the University of Calgary. We get to go to the “ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8) by stepping on the campus of U of C.

While doing a bit of digging, I found that the (Gaelic) motto of U of C is “Mo shùile togam sua,” which means, “I will lift up my eyes.” Calgary is a stunning city which is surrounded by the Rocky Mountains. This motto echoes the Psalmist:

“I lift up my eyes to the mountains –
where does my help come from?
My Help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.”
(Ps. 121:1-2)1

My prayer is that those who study, work, and teach at our beautiful campuses in Calgary will come to know the reality that the Psalmist knew – our help comes from the One who not only created the incredible landscape that surrounds us, but even our very selves.


As with all missionaries, I need to raise funds. I really believe that this is such a crucial mission and would like to give you a chance to join us in reaching these campuses for Jesus. Would you consider supporting us through prayer and giving? If you would like to donate, please click here for tax-deductible giving options. Please note the options are different if you are in the US or Canada. Should you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to email!

In anticipation of what God will do,

Phil Aud

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