About Us

The Rev. Valerie Bailey Fischer, Chaplain to the College and Protestant Chaplain

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As Chaplain to the College, I am here with the Chaplain’s Office team for all students of all faith traditions, or no faith tradition or practitioners and thinkers who focus on the essence of being, without the use of religion. My interfaith experiences in previous positions have always been rich opportunities to grow as a person and a world citizen. These interfaith experiences have led to opportunities to respond with others to the needs of the marginalized or those in crisis.

A special concern about the rights of marginalized persons is also part of my religious experience and practice. This concern and practices related to social engagement have been balanced with an appreciation of how power and privilege can be redirected toward creating positive change in our society.

My own religious experience includes three strains of the U.S. Protestant experience: African American Pentecostal, Evangelical, and Episcopal. After college, I worked as a newspaper reporter, a campus minister and returned to journalism. Later I attended seminary and became ordained in The Episcopal Church.

How about you? I want to hear your stories and how about your experiences (or lack of experiences) with faith and spirituality or even traditions that focus on being without the use of religion. Feel free to contact me with questions or concerns or just to talk.

Rabbi Seth Wax, Jewish Chaplain

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Rabbi Seth grew up in the Boston area and has been on a search that has brought him through Jewish communities and Buddhist monasteries to Harvard Divinity School and the Rabbinical School at Hebrew College before coming to Williams College in the summer of 2017. He has a special interest in exploring how to live a meaningful, engaged life that is infused with learning, contemplation, community, and deep interfaith engagement. Before coming to Williams, he was the rabbi at Congregation Mount Sinai in Brooklyn Heights, NY. He is also a trained spiritual director and offers one-on-one and group sessions for those looking to bring more awareness and attention to their inner spiritual lives.
Say hi when you see him on campus, shoot him an email to meet for coffee, or just stop by his office to see if his super-friendly dogs Ruby and Birch are in!              

Bridget Power, Catholic Chaplain

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Bridget Power grew up in North Bethesda, Maryland and Toronto, Ontario. She received her bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University and her master of divinity degree from Harvard Divinity School. After college, Bridget spent two years as a member of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps in Portland, Oregon and Bethel, Alaska. She has been a member of Contemplative Leaders in Action, an Ignatian spirituality program, and is currently pursuing a post-masters certificate in Spiritual Formation from the Clough School of Theology and Ministry at Boston College. Prior to arriving at Williams in the summer of 2021, Bridget was a hospital chaplain in Boston. Bridget loves meeting for tea or jogs around campus. Please reach out!      

Sidra Mahmood, Muslim Chaplain

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Sidra Mahmood, or “Ustādha Sidra,” was an international student at Mount Holyoke College from Karachi, Pakistan, where chaplains from multiple religious backgrounds supported her through homesickness, heartbreak, and crises of identity and faith. Sidra chose to adorn the hijab and live her religion of choice, Islam, more consciously in college. However, it was the isolation of life as a young professional that led her to a deep soul-searching to study Islam academically for five years at the Qalam Seminary in Texas, where she graduated in 2019 with an ijāza or certification as a scholar, ālima, to teach Islam with a documented pedagogical chain of teachers all the way to Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. Her dissertation at Qalam focused on Islamic law and child sexual abuse. She completed all four units of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) and is pursuing the Master of Arts in Chaplaincy at Hartford International University. Sidra was a healthcare chaplain in Arizona before moving to Williamstown with her spouse, two cats, and baby, Maalik. She loves camping and hiking. Send her an email to meet for coffee or a walk, or come to her office during office hours for some desi chai. She enjoys one-on-one conversations and would love to know your story (of life)!  

Rose Wallent, Administrative Coordinator

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39 Chapin Hall Drive, Paresky Center, Room 205
Williamstown, MA 01267
413-597-2483 Office

 

Religious advisers at Williams include The Reverend Valerie Bailey Fischer, Chaplain to the College and Protestant Chaplain, Rabbi Seth Wax, Jewish Chaplain, Bridget Power, Catholic Chaplain, and Sidra Mahmood, Muslim Chaplain.  The Chaplains provide spiritual direction and counseling and seek to support and facilitate the growth and development of all students. See our Staff Directory for more contact information.
Regular worship services are conducted by many religious communities, including Protestant, Roman Catholic, Jewish, and Muslim. The Williams Meditation Society organizes daily meditation sessions, while Buddhists, Hindus, Baha’i, and others gather for occasional religious devotion. All student religious groups sponsor speakers, discussions, and workshops which are open to the College community. There is a considerable interfaith fellowship among the religious associations.

The Chaplains work closely with the Center for Learning in Action to support student efforts in community service and other needs in the surrounding community. The Chaplains’ Office handles requests for the use of the Jewish Religious Center and Thompson Memorial Chapel, including the Interfaith Common Room.

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