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The Clarion

The Student News Site of Bethel University

The Clarion

The Student News Site of Bethel University

The Clarion

Nick Cocalis named Lead Pastor

After serving as a part-time pastor, Head Men’s Golf Coach and Assistant Athletic Director for Engagement steps into a new role at Bethel.

Bethel University officially named Nick Cocalis as Lead Campus Pastor in the Office of Christian Formation Wednesday, April 17. Cocalis began speaking in Chapel this year as an interim pastor, and during the search for a lead pastor Cocalis was asked to interview for the position. 

“It started with very simple questions about what’s next for campus ministry, what’s next for leadership?” Cocalis said. “And then eventually those conversations led to, ‘We’re going to be hiring someone for this new role. Would you consider applying?’”

Cocalis has spent the last five years in a variety of roles, initially coming to Bethel as Head Men’s Golf Coach, a role he still holds. While coaching golf was his main priority, Cocalis viewed coaching at Bethel as a platform for ministry. 

Ministry has always been a part of Cocalis’ life. As a senior in college, he went on a mission trip with his roommate and felt a calling from God. He later started a short-term missions organization called Next Step Ministries, leading mission trips for high school and college students. Cocalis eventually left full-time ministry to pursue a career in golf, playing in the 2018 PGA Tour Latin America before finding an opportunity at Bethel to pursue his love for both. 

“Bethel was the kind of place that brought those two things together,” Cocalis said. “I came to Bethel to coach golf, but my heart was in ministry.” 

As Lead Pastor, one area where Cocalis sees room for growth is in community engagement and a more missional focus beyond Chapel services and Community Groups. 

“[I hope to] really engage the student body in missions, and that doesn’t have to mean international missions,” Cocalis said. “What that means is a student body that wants to be [for] others first.”

He hopes to encourage students to use clubs, education and social groups as a way to serve their community outside the walls of Bethel. 

As for his other roles on campus — Assistant Athletic Director for Engagement and play-by-play announcer for men’s hockey — Cocalis sees each of his roles as an opportunity to achieve the same goal, but he will prioritize pastoral and coaching duties.

“Whether I’m calling a hockey game, coaching golf or in a leadership position in campus ministry, it’s all honestly the same,” Cocalis said. “It’s coming to Bethel and saying, ‘Alright, God, where can you use me?’”

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About the Contributor
Christopher Wrzesien, Staff Reporter
CJ Wrzesien, 24, is a communication major and journalism minor. He enjoys watching baseball, playing the guitar and playing the immaculate grid daily. If you need random sports information he's your guy. [email protected] | 407.937.9251
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