Tripod Examines Search For Next College Chaplain

4 min read

Kip Lynch ’22

Executive Editor

The College has recently posted the job description for College Chaplain and Dean of Spiritual and Religious Life. The Rev. Allison Read previously served in the position for 12 years before accepting the position of chaplain at Groton School in Feb. 2020. 

The posting indicates that the chaplain “collaborates with College administrators, faculty, staff, students, the Episcopal Church in Connecticut, and other spiritual care leaders of the College community to enrich the spiritual and intellectual life of the campus” and “fosters holistic student development, builds a vibrant community of faith, and furthers the mission of Trinity College to prepare students to be bold, independent thinkers who lead transformative lives.”

The College Chaplain is required to “conduct regular services in the Chapel according to the customs of the College and the provisions of the Episcopal Church; preach regularly in the Chapel and provide for visiting preachers” and “conduct special services, e.g. baptisms, weddings, memorial services for members of the College.” Although ordination in the Episcopal Church is required in order to conduct services such as Holy Communion according to the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer, it is not listed as a minimum qualification in the job description. Preferred qualifications include a Doctor of Theology and “3 or more years of experience as a College/University Chaplain and/or teaching experience in higher education.”

This marks a departure from past searches. Former President and Professor of History, Emeritus Borden W. Painter, Jr. told the Tripod that “All searches up to now have specified that the person be ordained in the Episcopal Church.” He clarified that due to the Called to Common Mission that established full communion between the Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, both churches recognize the validity of each other’s baptisms and ordinations. Thus, ministers ordained in the Evangelical Lutheran Church may be able to conduct Episcopal services as specified in the Book of Common Prayer.

Interim Co-Director of Spiritual and Religious Life John Rose described how, since the Trinity College Chapel is a consecrated Episcopal chapel, in previous searches “any Chaplain candidate proposed by the college has had to be approved by the Episcopal Bishop of Connecticut.”

The Tripod reached out to Dean of Student Life and Director of the Bantam Network Dr. Jody Goodman for comment. She is leading the search according to Chief of Staff and Vice President for External Affairs Jason Rojas. Goodman described how the search committee, despite not being finalized, has “worked closely with Bishop Laura Aherns of the Episcopal Church of Connecticut…conducted focus groups with students, alumni, faculty, OSRL [Office of Spiritual and Religious Life] staff, and Hillel Board members to further assess the needs of OSRL.”

Goodman noted “the important history and relationship the College has with the Episcopalian tradition” and added that “we will always ensure that ordained ministers of this faith [Episcopal] tradition will be involved and officiate ceremonies as we have done this year. This process will be inclusive of all voices of our Trinity community, which includes students, staff, faculty, alumni, and affiliates of the Office of Spiritual and Religious Life.”

Bishop of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut Ian Douglas commented that “the Episcopal Church serves in a consultancy and support capacity to the search process for the next Chaplain at Trinity College. We are committed to helping generate applications from the best candidates possible in The Episcopal Church.”

The Rev. Trevor Beauford currently serves as Interim College Chaplain and Interim Co-Director of Spiritual and Religious Life while the Rev. Rebekah Hatch serves as Interim Episcopal Chaplain. The other Interim Co-Director is John Rose, former College Organist and Director of Chapel Music.

Correction: an earlier version of this article released in the Mar. 16 edition of the Tripod identified the Rev. Rebekah Hatch as the Episcopal Chaplain. Ms. Hatch in fact serves as the Interim Episcopal Chaplain. This correction will run in the Mar. 22 edition of the Tripod.

bclark

Brendan W. Clark '21 is the current Editor-in-Chief of the Trinity Tripod, Trinity College's student newspaper.

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