Episcopal Chaplaincy at Harvard announces new chaplain

Episcopal Chaplaincy at Harvard
Posted May 21, 2019

The Reverend Rita T. Powell, Associate Rector for Liturgy and Music of Trinity Church Boston, has been named Chaplain for the Episcopal Chaplaincy at Harvard, effective July 1.

The Rev. Rita Powell

The Rev. Rita Powell

Making the announcement, J. Carey Bloomfield, Chair of the Board, said, “I am delighted that Rev. Powell, one of the most creative young priests in the nation, has accepted this position. She is a person of great pastoral experience and sensitivity and deeply familiar with Episcopal spirituality. She has extensive experience as well in cross-cultural dialogue and liturgical innovation, which will be important aspects of her responsibilities at the Chaplaincy.”

Rev. Powell said she is particularly excited for the opportunities the Chaplaincy offers for community-building. “I am excited to work with the students and members of the Chaplaincy to explore how we can discover signs of the gospel in the wider Harvard community and beyond. Looking for new ways of incarnating church is a thrilling adventure and I look forward to sharing this work with the Chaplaincy community.”

Among her first priorities is getting to know members of the Chaplaincy and students, staff, and faculty across Harvard, as well as strengthening ties with Chaplaincy alumni and other affiliates. Rev. Powell said she especially looks forward to “collaborating with students and the Board to outline a strategic framework for our future.”

As Episcopal Chaplain, Rev. Powell will minister across the Harvard University community with the support of the Chaplaincy’s Kellogg Fellow. She will be responsible for the weekly 5:30 p.m. Sunday service and communal dinner at Christ Church Cambridge, helping to serve and build the Episcopal Chaplaincy community. Further, Rev. Powell will oversee weekly Compline services and cultivate the ongoing dialogue, service, advocacy, and community life of the Chaplaincy. She will provide counseling and spiritual guidance for students and foster
community between students and their neighbors in Cambridge and the wider world.

Rev. Powell earned her Master of Divinity from Yale Divinity School, where she was awarded the prestigious William Muehl Preaching Prize. She earned her BA at Barnard College of Columbia University, where she also served as captain of the varsity softball team. Rev. Powell credits choral singing in her youth with deeply informing her spiritual formation, along with the physical disciplines of basketball, yoga, and distance running.

After her studies, Rev. Powell spent time living and working with monastic community in Taizé, France, and then served in the Diocese of South Dakota for several years. In 2013 she came back to Massachusetts to serve at Trinity Church in Copley Square as Associate Rector for Liturgy and Music. In this role she has overseen Trinity’s liturgical life, as well as helming youth ministries and collaborating in outreach ministries. She lives in Belmont with her husband and two children.

“I am inspired by the prospect of collaborative creation, both within the Chaplaincy and with
members of the university community,” Rev. Powell says. “I am excited to be part of this
process as Episcopal Chaplain at Harvard.”