The Rev. Valerie Bailey Fischer, Th.D. candidate and Teaching Assistant in Anglican Studies and Church History, has been appointed as the next Chaplain at Williams College. She will begin her position in July.
While at General, Bailey Fischer launched The Good Shepherd Children’s Atrium Project, a program providing Christian Formation for children at General and its wider community, as well as a formative experience for seminarians who are interested in leading similar ministries. The curriculum in use, the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, is more than 50 years old and based on the Montessori principle of inspiring the child’s “inner teacher” to explore materials in a child-oriented environment.
Bailey Fischer is currently serving as priest associate at Calvary Episcopal Church in Summit, N.J. She has more than 11 years of college chaplaincy experience and nearly a decade in ordained ministry.
Raised in West Philadelphia in an African American Pentecostal tradition, Bailey Fischer participated in several other Protestant traditions before joining the Episcopal Church as a young adult. She received her B.A. from Penn State University and her M.Div. from Union, and then became university chaplain at Framingham State University, where she helped students from a variety of religious, moral, and philosophical traditions form and strengthen their communities. In addition, she assisted students in planning creative rituals and liturgies that deepened their spiritual engagement.
Through Bailey Fischer’s ministry’s strong foundation in social justice, which included Urban Pilgrimage, the unique experiential learning program she developed at Framingham State, she galvanized the student-led development of interfaith programming to encourage learning across traditions.
Her research at General examines the ancient order of female deacons from the early church, its late-19th century revival, and its role in the ordination of women in the Episcopal Church in the United States.
As chaplain to the college, Mother Bailey Fischer will support the vitality of the many religious, spiritual, and intellectual traditions at Williams through dialogue, outreach, and advocacy. In addition, she will provide counseling and spiritual guidance for undergraduates and foster community between students and their neighbors in Williamstown and the wider world.
“I am inspired how the chaplains, faculty, staff and students [at Williams] are engaged in issues of faith and religion in a variety of ways,” Bailey Fischer says. “I am excited to be part of this process as Chaplain to the College.”