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New Chaplain for the “Birds of Pray”

Matt Hartley. Courtesy of Sandy Wilson
Matt Hartley. Courtesy of Sandy Wilson

The Interfaith Center on campus is designed to promote cooperation and engagement between students of all religious and nonreligious backgrounds. It also hosts the UNF Campus Chaplain Program, which is a group of volunteers from around Jacksonville that are there to assist students with any questions or concerns they may have in regards to religion, spirituality and philosophy. The program is made up of seven different Chaplains from various organizations and the program just welcomed its newest addition, Matt Hartley.

Hartley spoke a bit about what his specific ministry is and when they meet on campus.

“I’m the Chaplain for the Osprey Episcopalian Ministry,” said Hartley. “We call ourselves the ‘Birds of Pray’ and we meet weekly here at the Interfaith Center on Monday nights for worship.”

Hartley sees “Birds of Pray” as a community that comes out of the Episcopal church but is welcoming to all denominations.

“Anyone’s welcome to join us,” said Hartley.

The “Birds of Pray” focus on worship as a way to remind members that they’re followers of Christ and that they should love their neighbor as they love themselves.  

In a press release from The Episcopal Diocese of Florida, Hartley gave additional details about what students can expect from the ministry.

“We plan to meet weekly over worship, food and the Eucharist. I hope to develop the worship we share together. This is a sacred place for us on the campus, where we create a worship experience that is unique on the UNF campus, especially bringing liturgical experience of worship to the campus, and in doing so make the old new and the new old. College students love innovative spirituality that is rooted in history. In following our plans in 2017, I have great expectations of growth in this important ministry.”

Hartley is stepping in to the position that was formerly held by the Reverend Amy Slater, and will feel right at home here at UNF as he once was a student himself.

“I was a student at UNF from 2001 to 2005, before there was even a Swoop,” said Hartley. “I was a part of campus ministry here on campus and it meant a great deal to me.”

“It helped me figure out what I was passionate about in life, what path I wanted to follow and it eventually led me to go into ministry,” continued Hartley.

While Chaplain and worship leader on Monday night worship sessions, he is also involved in a program that is a part of the Episcopalian Ministry at UNF.

“So, we have another program that’s part of our ministry called the UNF Pilgrim Bridge, and this is a Christian interfaith leadership program,” said Hartley.

The UNF Pilgrim Bridge is comprised of two components: Christian students who want to become interfaith leaders on campus, and the smaller interfaith groups that these leaders form. In these interfaith groups, people of any religion, or lack thereof, are always welcome, according to Hartley.

The events that students can be involved in are not limited to Monday night worship sessions however, as the program already has some additional plans in the works.

Hartley wants student to know about a speaker series being held on Friday, Feb. 24, called Black Lives Matter: Civil Rights and the Future of Interfaith.

“We have a professor from the University of Florida who is a civil rights veteran and a priest,” said Hartley, “who is involved in interfaith and interracial dialogue speaking together on stage about the importance of Black Lives Matter and how the interfaith movement is involved with that.”

If anyone is interested in finding out more information on either of the programs or contacting Hartley himself, Hartley said that doing so is easy.

“They can easily find the Osprey Episcopalians and the Pilgrim Bridge on Facebook,” said Hartley, “and if they want to get in touch with me directly, they can email me at [email protected].”


For more information or news tips, or if you see an error in this story or have any compliments or concerns, contact [email protected].

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