While Tufts University no longer affiliates with a particular religious tradition, it was founded by members of a Protestant denomination, the Universalist Church, in 1852, and even had its own divinity school until the 1960s. The timeline below offers a glimpse into more recent Protestant history at Tufts. Although the timeline focuses on chaplain leadership, for the last 32 years, we have been and remain a student-driven chaplaincy with a long-standing dedication to interfaith collaboration, community-building, and justice work.
1988 Bishop David E. Johnson of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts established the Episcopal Chaplaincy at Tufts University at the request of students, and appointed Reverend Matthew Lawrence as Chaplain.
1990 Tufts University Chaplain, Reverend Scotty McLennan (Unitarian Universalist), and Protestant Affiliates led Protestant worship services.
1992 Reverend Steven Bonsey (Episcopal) was appointed the first Associate Protestant Chaplain recognized by Tufts University.
1995 Reverend Daniel Karanja (Episcopal) was appointed.
1996 Reverend Miriam Acevedo-Naters (Episcopal) was appointed.
2001 Reverend Steven Bonsey was reappointed.
2003 Reverend Laurie Rofinot (Episcopal) was appointed.
2004 Reverend Chris Fike (Episcopal) was appointed.
2005 Reverend Laurie Rofinot was reappointed, followed by Reverend Barbara Asinger (United Church of Christ).
2007 Reverend Jeffrey VonWald (United Church of Christ) was appointed.
2009 Reverend Kerrie Ilarthan (United Church of Christ) was appointed.
2011 Rachael Pettengill (Episcopal) was appointed.
2014 Chanta Bhan (Episcopal) was appointed.
2016 Reverend Daniel Bell (Episcopal) was appointed.
We are thankful for the help provided by Tufts’ Digital Collections and Archives in offering us this invaluable look into our past.