Reverend Jackie Kirby is not just another religious leader. She is also an innovator. The 51-year old Episcopalian minister, just appointed as the top religious leader at St. George’s School, is the first female ever to hold that position. It is a milestone achievement and significant honor, one she has been working a long time to achieve.
A native of Baltimore, Kirby had a usual religious upbringing. As with most people church was a key part of her childhood but began to taper off as she approached high school and college. Some years later, while lecturing as a English and Expository Writing professor and director of Communication Arts and Sciences for Boston University, her religious roots returned. Kirby began attending a Unitarian Church led by a Buddhist pastor. Unitarian churches are places where many faiths gather as one. With her faith restored Kirby attended divinity school at Yale, earning an undergraduate degree in literature. Reverend Jackie also holds a Ph.D. from New York University in comparative literature.
Kirby has garnered attention as the first woman serving as chaplain. All her superiors agree with the appointment, stating that she is perfect for the job and a wonderful person in general. Kirby herself says she will embrace everything that comes with her new position and hopes to be a positive influence on the students. She is also grateful for the opportunity to be a role model for young women. As the first female chaplain, Kirby has broken a barrier, which she hopes inspires others.
St. George’s School, under head of school Alixe Callen, is a diverse campus that embraces different religions. Recently a group of students formed an interfaith prayer group. Their goal is for faiths to exist together without judgement. An innovation that Kirby embraces and wishes to strengthen. Her goal is to help students identify their religious roots and promote understanding between the faiths. Kirby is also reaching out to women in prison, ministering to local women’s prison in her spare time. Her goal is to help all she minsters too to become better people for a better world altogether.