Walker Bristol, A14, is the Humanist in Residence in the Tufts University Chaplaincy. He coordinates the Humanist Chaplaincy programming and serves the needs of nonreligious, atheist, agnostic, Humanist, and otherwise spiritually nontraditional students at Tufts. This includes anything from one-on-one conversations about students’ existential journeys and college lives to organizing events that offer a safe space for students outside traditional religion to explore their metaphysical experiences.
Walker grew up in southeastern North Carolina. He was raised a part of a historically Quaker family, though became a part of an evangelical Christian community while in high school. He left the church when he was sixteen and quickly grew interested in exploring the support and critical reflection of nontheist communities, as well as finding inspiration in the music and harmony of the natural world.
While an undergraduate at Tufts, Walker studied religious theory and philosophy of language. He was the president of what became the Humanist Community at Tufts (then known as the Tufts Freethought Society) as well as a part of the Consent Culture Network and the Coalition Against Religious Exclusion. After graduating, he began a Master of Divinity program at Harvard Divinity School, focusing in pastoral care and counseling, theory of modern chaplaincy, and the intersections between Humanism and Quakerism. Walker has worked in a variety of capacities as a Humanist and multifaith organizer. For six years, Walker helped coordinate service projects at the Humanist Community at Harvard, in particular a series of successful meal packing events supporting food insecure families throughout Greater Boston. In 2016, he completed a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education as a chaplain at Brigham and Women’s Hospital downtown, where he now serves as a pastoral visitor. In addition to working in chaplaincy, Walker is a volunteer and consultant at the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center and a certified Rape Crisis Counselor.
Music is Walker’s passion—you might find him in the Granoff basement jamming to Michael Jackson. He has a big and loving family whom he talks to every day, and rallies behind the Carolina Panthers. Walker says, “College is a dramatic time for everyone, emotionally, and spiritually. Many of us don’t realize how valuable a chaplaincy can be to supporting us through it, especially if we’re told that chaplaincies aren’t the spaces we should be looking to for support. Nonreligious students need guidance and support just as much as their religious peers and a chaplaincy with open doors to Humanists and people from all walks of spiritual life will naturally help those students build supportive relationships with each other. I’m beyond honored to be able to serve that community at Tufts, and I believe the University Chaplaincy can and should be a welcoming space to confront life’s challenges and celebrate life’s gifts.”