College names new chaplain

| September 12, 2012

The Rev. Dori Baker has been named the new chaplain and director of student spiritual life at Sweet Briar.

Baker is an ordained United Methodist elder and served a church in the suburbs of Chicago before returning to graduate school to complete a doctorate focusing on the spiritual lives of women and girls. As an independent scholar, she has authored numerous articles and several books, including “Doing Girlfriend Theology: God-Talk with Young Women” (The Pilgrim Press, 2005) and “The Barefoot Way: A Faith Guide for Youth, Young People and the Adults Who Walk With Them” (Westminster John Knox Press, 2012).

Throughout her writing, Baker says, she focuses on helping young adults find “lives of meaning and purpose,” and places great value on interfaith action and collaboration.

Baker also has served on the faculties of several theological graduate and youth ministries programs, advised doctoral candidates, and led retreats as a consultant. As Sweet Briar’s part-time chaplain, she will continue in her position as scholar-in-residence at the nonprofit Fund for Theological Education, supporting its mission to develop the next generation of diverse, creative leaders for the church and academy.

The Sweet Briar chaplaincy attracted Baker because she was looking for a more direct ministry with young adults.

“So much of my time is spent researching and writing about the hopes and longings of this generation,” Baker says. “I am thrilled to be in direct contact with students on a daily basis. I have so much to learn from them.

“When I visited Sweet Briar, I learned that it is so much more diverse than I ever imagined. As I met students and faculty, I felt my heart opening to the possibilities of being part of this community. I think we will find many exciting ways of enriching one another’s lives!”

Baker holds a Ph.D. from Northwestern University in religious and theological studies and a Master of Divinity from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary.

She lives in Lynchburg with her husband, Lincoln, and two daughters, Erin (17, a senior at Chatham Hall) and Olivia (13, a freshman at E.C. Glass).

Lincoln is the chief financial officer of Abbot Labs in Altavista and has occasionally guest-lectured on business ethics at Sweet Briar. The family recently moved from Altavista, where Baker served as a founding member of Frannie’s House, a YWCA domestic violence shelter.

Baker takes the place of the Rev. Adam White, who has joined the staff of the Virginia Episcopal School as chaplain, chair of the religion department and director of service learning.

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