Rev. Betty Wright-Riggins
Rev. Betty Wright-Riggins became Ursinus College’s chaplain and director of religious and spiritual life this summer after serving both roles on an interim basis last year. Betty’s career has led her down many paths with one commonality: leading a diverse community of people. Get to know Betty.
She and her husband, Collegeville Mayor Aidsand “Ace” Wright-Riggins, are originally from Los Angeles, but have now lived in Collegeville for 32 years.
Rev. Wright-Riggins is an ordained American Baptist minister, founded a consultative ministry organization, and has been a speech pathologist, school principal, and adjunct college faculty member.
I am one of those people who has had multiple careers. Some I did not necessarily seek out, but they became more than I could have ever imagined. When we moved here, I thought I’d take it slow at first, but that did not work for me. I have grown exponentially, and my worldview—and my spiritual direction—has been shaped by the intimate experiences I’ve had with people in a variety of contexts. That has been so rewarding to me and it’s who I am as a person of responsibility in the world.
In finding common ground with others, communication is key.
If we can, on campus, have spaces to come together and whereby we learn from one another and see how much we have in common with one another, then we can have even the most difficult of conversations. I think that’s vitally important to creating an open environment and decreasing a lot of the fear and separation that we can sometimes experience as a society.
Rev. Wright-Riggins is a Los Angeles native who has also lived in New York City, and she claims to still have a “big city mindset.” But she proudly calls Collegeville home.
In case you didn’t know it, Los Angeles is the center of the universe! That is, until you get out of it. I can still go to Philly. I can go explore and have that [big city] experience. But I’m content here in Collegeville, and that might come as a surprise. It doesn’t feel as small as it did when I first got here—and part of that was culture shock. The advantage for a place like this, and for a college like Ursinus that is not so big, is that you don’t just feel like a number. When you’re in a bigger place, or at a bigger university, you can sometimes feel that no one can really see you. Ursinus refuses to not see a student. [A smaller place] provides an opportunity to coalesce as a community.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Rev. Wright-Riggins began sending a voiced scripture reading, “Breathing in Scripture,” which now has 100 weekly subscribers.
During isolation, you could do your devotions every morning or evening and check that box, but you still felt empty. I thought it might be helpful to hear some inspirational, scriptural passage just for you. It started with maybe 20 people, and they would tell others and it grew. I was asked why I didn’t just do one and send it out to everyone, but when I’m saying your name, it means it’s a prayer just for you. I do one every week.
She is an avid reader and music lover who enjoys murder mysteries and often watches action movies, or films and TV shows with a lot of fantasy and mythology.
I used to read at least two books a week. I like Ken Follett and I recently read Nnedi Okorafor’s Binti. I love the Mission: Impossible movies. I watched Outlander and The Witcher—that one has a lot of monsters, and you really have to keep track of all the characters. I love gospel music, opera, American standards, jazz, and musical theater. I like a range of things that really inform who I am.
Rev. Wright-Riggins has three children and three grandchildren, but being a grandmother—a “Mimi”—is the job she treasures most.
I’m really good at that. I take spoiling my grandchildren very seriously!