Q and A with Sweet Briar’s Chaplain: Matt Gaventa

Our Chaplain will be heading to an exciting new chapter in his life and Sweet Briar will be receiving a new chaplain at an exciting time in our story. Rev. Gaventa was happy to answer the questions we had for him about his time here at Sweet Briar.


Q: Briefly describe your job here at Sweet Briar as Chaplain

A: My job at Sweet Briar is to support the spiritual needs of Sweet Briar faculty, staff, and students, which means trying to create opportunities for worship and spiritual reflection, working with the Sweet Spirits, and being available for one-on-one counseling.

Q: What has been the most rewarding aspect of your job?

A: The most rewarding aspect of my job has been the opportunity to work closely with students who are asking hard, honest questions about their faith and about their own spiritual journeys. I like that we can laugh together and also ask faithful questions together.

Q:What do you hope to see for the future spiritual life here at Sweet Briar?

A:My hope is that Sweet Briar continues to value opportunities for spiritual engagement as central to liberal arts education, and that the school can grow its commitment to modeling interfaith dialog. We need citizens who can have faithful and respectful conversations with diverse audiences, and Sweet Briar can help make that happen.

Q:What has been the hardest part of this job?

A:The hardest part of my job has been the fact that I only have so many hours a week — I worked full-time as Pastor at Amherst Presbyterian Church, and only had ten hours a week to spend on campus. It meant that I didn’t have time to be involved as broadly or as deeply as I would have liked.

Q: What’s next for you?

A: Next for me is that I will be the Pastor at University Presbyterian Church in Austin, Texas. While I’m bittersweet about leaving Amherst and Sweet Briar, this church sits right at the edge of the heart of the University of Texas, so it’s an opportunity to continue doing many of the same kinds of ministries I’ve been doing here, plus there are lots more taco trucks.

Q: Were you involved with selecting the new Chaplain? What was that process?

A: The new chaplain at Sweet Briar will be Emma Johnston, Associate Pastor at Peakland United Methodist Church. Emma reached out to me last fall to ask about Sweet Briar campus ministry, and I invited her to come lead a service. At that service, her ability to connect with students was inspiring. Once I knew I was leaving, I suggested her name to Kelly Kraft-Meyer as a possible replacement.

We wish you well on your new adventure Matt!


Written by Mary Grace Williams


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *