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Religious & Spiritual Life at NMH
Northfield Mount Hermon is a secular institution that affirms religious diversity.
Founded by D.L. Moody, the renowned American evangelist, NMH is now home to a spiritually diverse community that focuses on finding meaning and purpose, connecting with compassion across differences, and living lives of balance. The school’s mission — to engage the head, heart, and hand and to empower students to act with humanity and purpose — is the unifying ethos that encourages the religious and spiritual pluralism of NMH.
At NMH, we work to enable students to follow the spiritual journey of their choice, whether that means supporting the traditions they come from, allowing space for the exploration of new faiths, or simply acting as a sounding board when needed. There are regular opportunities for religious practice, contemplation, and discovery, such as the “Moment of Silence” messages offered during all-school meetings, the “Wednesday Moments” that the chaplain distributes to the community, the chaplain’s blog, and gatherings of our numerous religious/spiritual life groups.
These gatherings include Catholic confirmation classes; food, fellowship, prayer, and inspirational singing at the Friday night Breakaway group; High Holy Days services; Passover Seders; the Muslim prayer room in the O’Connor Health Center; transportation to local churches; and meditation sessions on campus. Students are also able to register for a Mindfulness Meditation co-curricular co-sponsored by the Spiritual Life office and the Health Center. Support and guidance for all groups comes from Rev. Dr. Lee-Ellen Strawn, school chaplain, in conjunction with the religious/spiritual life group leaders.
NMH Chaplain Lee-Ellen Strawn
NMH Chaplain Lee-Ellen Strawn is a clergyperson in the United Church of Christ and had been working in educational institutions internationally with her husband, Tim Relyea, before coming to Northfield Mount Hermon.
Lee-Ellen earned a master of divinity degree from Harvard University and a doctor of philosophy degree in modern Korean history from Yonsei University. Her primary area of academic research is the role of the Korean Protestant church in the empowerment of women in early-20th-century Korea.
In addition to serving as school chaplain, Lee-Ellen teaches courses in the religious studies/philosophy department.
As a chaplain to a secular school, Lee-Ellen strives to affirm and support all students regardless of religious background. She sees the role of chaplain as significant in creating space for religious and spiritual diversity to flourish, and in facilitating conversation across religious traditions to build empathy and understanding.