Founder of Hamilton, Rev. Samuel Kirkland, had a vision for an institution centered on an educational outreach to the Oneida Indians, an expression of his enduring connection to this community. Kirkland’s vision included an ethical and spiritual dimension of appreciating diversity, and of educating the whole person, summing up his educational philosophy in this way: “the culture of the heart is to be considered as an important object in every part of education.”
The chaplaincy encourages the diversity of religious, spiritual, cultural and moral worldviews by creating opportunities to build community life within and across these lines of identity. We practice the art of hospitality, creating a mindful and reflective presence for personal growth and communal experiences. Chaplaincy staff serve as teachers, counselors and advisors addressing students’ personal and leadership concerns, and also experiential education – on- and off-campus – through the lens of social justice.
It is our belief that religious and spiritual traditions — understood and practiced with integrity — leads us toward unity and reconciliation.
2. Inclusivity & Community
We embrace religious and spiritual diversity — including those members of our community who consider themselves atheists, agnostics or with no particular spiritual orientation. We encourage spiritual life communities, to help connect it to the tradition from which it arose, and to help it breathe new life into its current campus expression. We do not seek to collapse the differences that exist between us, but to recognize the profound learning opportunities that arise when we explore our differences with honesty and good will, and the sense of unity, discovering our common commitments to justice, equality, reconciliation, and peace. The chaplaincy is committed to building community among all people, through seeking answers to life's important questions, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, socio-economic status, ethnicity, ability, age, spiritual orientation, or anything else that might otherwise separate us.
3. Mindfulness (Self-knowledge)
The education of the whole person is crucial, or as our founder Rev. Samuel Kirkland wrote about it, “the culture of the heart is to be considered as an important object in every part of education.” In a society which commodifies education as a set of tools and skills to be used in securing employment, the value of mindfulness can appear counter-cultural. External factors such as grades, parental expectations, economic pressures create stress and anxiety among campus populations. “The culture of the heart,” the internal sense of what is important, an intrinsic understanding of purpose, cries out to be cultivated. Mindfulness is the effort to reclaim a centeredness, to restore a balance and perspective of what is important, determining the source of meaning intrinsic to the soul and not imposed by social pressures. Mindfulness is also awareness of communal values and how they are in alignment or discord with personal values.
4. Social Justice
We are convinced that the spiritual basis of human experience is tied up with the individual’s connection to the broader community. It is in relating individual values to communal ones which lies at the heart of an educational experience which leads to lives of meaning and purpose.
Current efforts supported by the chaplaincy includes:
• worship and prayer services
• spiritual music
• individual & group study/ classes
• observance of holy days
• experiences of meditation and mindfulness
• interreligious dialogue and opportunities to learn about unfamiliar spiritual practices and ideas
• discussions on the life of spirituality and moral concern
• experiential learning with local community partners
• internships in spiritual vocation & information on graduate theological education
The chaplaincy also serves as a liaison to communities of faith in the surrounding area, and a resource for students whose spiritual needs extend beyond our campus. Chaplains are available for counseling with all members of the Hamilton community, in areas of bereavement, spiritual exploration, and other matters of personal growth. The chaplaincy also supports community outreach and the work of the COOP, Community Outreach & Opportunity Project at Hamilton College.