Coming Home to Hollins, Chaplain Lindsey Moser ’15 Is Creating “a Safe Space for People Exploring Their Spiritual Identity”

Coming Home to Hollins, Chaplain Lindsey Moser ’15 Is Creating “a Safe Space for People Exploring Their Spiritual Identity”

Campus Life

April 22, 2024

Coming Home to Hollins, Chaplain Lindsey Moser ’15 Is Creating “a Safe Space for People Exploring Their Spiritual Identity” Lindsey Moser

Lindsey Moser ’15 recalls that when she came to Hollins after completing an Associate of Arts degree at Virginia Western Community College, she was “an introverted, bookish kid.” But when she graduated from the university, “I feel as though I left as a leader because of the immense support and mentorship I received from the community here.”

Moser has blended that sense of confidence with a strong devotion to her faith. After earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in English at Hollins, she continued to pursue her calling to the ministry, a vocation in which she has been involved for more than a decade. Her journey has unexpectedly but happily brought her full circle: She recently returned to Hollins to serve as the university’s new chaplain and director of interfaith belonging, roles she sees as “intersectional and holistic. The spiritual element of every person is important and can impact overall wellbeing if it’s not nourished. In order to meet that need, I plan to provide a safe space for people who are exploring their spiritual identity, trying new things, and learning from others about how religion and spirituality offer a basis for meaning making.”

She continues, “It is my goal to empower students to take advantage of those opportunities and speak up for those whose voices might be just a little quieter – I know mine was.”

After completing her undergraduate career at Hollins, Moser went on to earn a Master of Arts in English at the University of Auckland, and a Master of Arts in religion and Master of Divinity at the Liberty School of Divinity. (She is currently working on her dissertation on medieval theology as she completes her Ph.D. at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.) Subsequently, Moser worked in urban church plants and bilingual communities overseas, and at the Rescue Mission of Roanoke, before she was commissioned into the U.S. Air Force, where she and her husband, James (M.A.L.S. ’07), served as active-duty military chaplains for almost two years. 

When they separated from active duty in 2022, the Mosers moved to the Boones Mill, Virginia, area to be closer to their families and where they grew up. Lindsey spent the next year as a stay-at-home parent to their two sons (she and James are welcoming a baby girl in June). When she decided to return to work, Lindsey says, her husband came across the university chaplain/director of interfaith belonging job posting as “kind of happenstance. I felt compelled to apply as I had a really positive experience when I was a student working with the Rev. Dr. Jenny Call, who was Hollins’ chaplain at that time. I was one of the student chaplains and I got to see her philosophy of ministry in action on campus. I have a lot of respect for her.”

Moser was also excited to return to campus because she considers the university to be “one of my many homes. I was at Hollins for just two years and when I graduated, I felt like I didn’t have enough time here. I had a wonderful experience and leaving was bittersweet. I never would have imagined I would be back here. It’s a huge privilege.”

Parenthood has brought about “the most significant transformation” in both Moser’s ministry and how she connects with others, she says. “Becoming a parent informs so much of my faith practice, how I view the world, and the way words matter. What I have encountered as a new parent has challenged me to navigate how important advocacy and inclusivity are in my philosophy of life.”

Increasingly, she adds, she is aware of whether she is “actually treating people like they are designed in God’s image, which is something I personally believe. I’m a lot more cognizant of the relationship I have with people because my children are watching me. I hear my preschooler mimicking a lot of things I say, and it’s encouraged me to ask myself, ‘Do I actually “walk the walk” and treat people the way they want to be treated?’ I grew up in a faith-based household hearing the Golden Rule. To put it into practice has been really compelling.”

Moser believes the college years can be a challenging time in terms of grappling with personal questions of faith, religion, and spirituality. “A lot of students face this period of deconstruction, and it can be unsettling and scary, especially if they grew up in a religious household and are now exploring different orientations of the faith that is familiar to them.”

She sees one of her key roles as chaplain as “normalizing” this process of discovery. “Deconstruction is developmentally appropriate and even healthy,” she explains, “so I’m interested in helping students increase their tolerance for risk a little bit and helping them understand that it’s actually good that they are exploring. It doesn’t mean that you’re unfaithful. It may not mean that you are going to completely change your spiritual orientation. It simply means you are developing a healthy curiosity about what other people believe, and that’s a good thing. It goes back to what I’m telling my toddlers: People are human, and they deserve respect. As long as you are kind to people, you can’t go wrong.”

Moser stresses that “chaplaincy is very pluralistic at its core and focused on interfaith and commonalities across religious divisions and differences.” At Hollins, she says she hopes to organize and promote campus programs and events that moderate dialogues about faith, religion, and spirituality with other activities. “If we’re doing something on mindfulness and crafting, for example, we may be discussing difficult topics, but because we’re doing something else that links us as a people such as a shared interest, whether it’s a hobby or even a meal together, it doesn’t feel as intimidating. You’re rarely going to be put into a position where those difficult things are the sole focus, and you feel like you’re on the hot seat.”

Spirituality, Moser says, “is just as important as taking care of your mental health, keeping up with academics, and developing social relationships. I’m here to help people navigate how they can support that.”

Moser emphasizes that she is a resource for everyone at Hollins, whether or not they are people of faith. “A person does not have to spiritual or religious to talk to a chaplain. As a faith practitioner, I am a pastor to some but a chaplain to all – students, faculty, and staff. Sometimes having another confidential source on campus to talk to can be what someone needs to just vent or serve as kind of an initial step in getting more involved with counseling. I think it’s crucial for people to know that if they are facing something difficult, they are not alone. They always have somebody they can reach out to.”

At the same time, she says, “If we just sit down and have a conversation about cats and crochet, that’s totally fine, too. And I make a pretty mean cup of coffee.”