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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.