The Rev. Grace Burford to Serve as First Buddhist Chaplain

The Rev. Grace Burford, an ordained Buddhist minister, is Davidson's new associate chaplain.

A practicing Buddhist since her own undergraduate days at Swarthmore College, Burford holds a doctorate from Northwestern University in the history and literature of religions.

In addition to providing a Buddhist presence on campus, Burford will focus on interfaith work in the newly created position, said Chaplain Rob Spach.

"Grace Burford is a terrific fit for Davidson because she combines a profound caring for each person with depth in her own Buddhist practice and intellectual depth," Spach said.

"As our first chaplain from an Eastern tradition, she'll bring new perspectives and practices that will be meaningful to our ever-more spiritually diverse college community, including many who don't identify with any religious tradition."

Burford has taught at Georgetown University, Shepherd College, James Madison University and most recently Prescott College, where she served as adviser and mentor of the LGBTQ student group and the college meditation club. At Prescott, she also founded the Religious and Spiritual Resources for Tough Times initiative for faculty and staff, and served as the college's ethical, spiritual and religious life chaplain.

In 2016, she completed her Buddhist chaplaincy training and was ordained into Buddhist ministry.

"What was really attractive to me was the combination of this particular job position and Davidson itself," she said. "I want my work to be in a context where people care about people, and the earth."

Since interfaith work is often done from the standpoint of the dominant religious tradition, Burford said, she is excited about the possibilities of bringing a different perspective to bear on that hallmark of campus life.

"I want to connect with people to see how I can help them do what they are trying to accomplish," she said. "That's a wonderful place to meet people."

John Syme




  • August 3, 2017