Yale Divinity School
A special jazz vespers service at Yale University's Battell Chapel, the announcement of five distinguished alumni awards, and a series of lectures by well-known figures in the religious community highlighted Yale Divinity School's 2004 Convocation and Reunions, which was held Oct. 11-14. The Convocation also included celebration of the 150 th anniversary of Berkeley Divinity School, the Episcopal Church seminary that affiliated with Yale Divinity School in 1971.
Approximately 300 alumni and guests attended the three-day celebration, which marked the 50th reunion of the Class of 1954 and the 25 th reunion of the Class of 1979. Cluster gatherings were held for the Classes of 1958-60, 1973-75, and 1993-95.
Alumni awards were presented at Convocation's Alumni Awards Banquet to George A. Lindbeck,'46 B.D.,'55 Ph.D., Pitkin Professor of Historical Theology at Yale (Emeritus), Distinction in Theological Education; Christopher R. Glaser,'77 M.Div., gay and lesbian rights activist and spiritual leader of the Midtown Spiritual Community in Atlanta, Distinction in Lay Ministry; Robert A. Evans,'63 M.Div., expert in conflict resolution and executive director of the Plowshares Institute, William Sloane Coffin Award for Peace and Justice; Lois Capps,'64 M.A.R., congresswoman from California's 23rd District, Distinction in Community Service; and Robert E. Seymour, Jr.,'48 B.D., Distinction in Ordained Ministry, who served as the first pastor at Binkley Memorial Baptist Church in Chapel Hill, NC, a congregation at the forefront of the battle over integration and participation of women in Baptist churches in the South.
The jazz vespers service, celebrated at Battell Chapel on the first day of Convocation, was conducted by the Rev. Dwight Andrews,'77 M.Div. The service drew about 800 worshippers and included participation of the 30-voice Atlanta Community Jazz Chorus. The service was dedicated to the memory of the Rev. Ronald B. Packnett, M.Div.'79. A fund honoring Packnett and continuing the tradition of excellence and diversity at YDS has been established, The Ronald B. Packnett Scholarship Fund, which will target African-American students who feel called to ministerial service in the African-American church.
The Lyman Beecher Lectures were delivered by The Rev. Otis Moss, Jr., pastor of Olivet Institutional Baptist Church in Cleveland, OH and a colleague of both Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Rev. Martin Luther King, Sr. He spoke on the topic Preaching as Prophetic Ministry. He challenged ministers to be “the voice of peace,” to “proclaim the Good News to the poor,” to never be “reduced or intimidated” by power, and to recognize that prophets appear “sometimes in rags but seldom in royal robes.”
Bart Ehrman, the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, delivered the Kent Shaffer Lectures on the subject Christ in the Early Christian Tradition: Texts Disputed and Apocryphal. Ehrman, a popular authority on orthodoxy and heresy in the first three centuries of Christianity, outlined the primary ways in which early Christian groups tried to restrict readings of the ancient Christian manuscripts to suit their own purposes.
Other lecturers included the Rabbi Lawrence A. Hoffman and the Rev. Mark Allen McIntosh. Hoffman, the Barbara and Stephen Friedman Professor of Liturgy at the Jewish Institute of Religion at Hebrew Union College in New York, delivered the Aidan J. Kavanagh Lecture on Enculturation and Illness and Lex in Lexus. McIntosh, the Frances Cheney lecturer, is associate professor of theology at Loyola University in Chicago and canon theologian to the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church. He spoke on How God makes Theologians.
Preachers during convocation included the Rev. Stephen Bauman, senior minister at Christ Church United Methodist, New York City, M.Div., ‘79; the Rev. Barbara K. Lundblad, M.Div., 79, the Joe R. Engle Associate Professor of Preaching, Union Theological Seminary, New York City; the Rev. Peter J. Gomes, the Plummer Professor of Christian Morals at Harvard Divinity School and Pusey Minster in the Memorial Church of Harvard University; and the Rev. Javier Viera, S.T.M,'98, senior pastor at Mamaroneck United Methodist Church, Mamaroneck, New York.
The contributions of Harry Adams, the Horace Bushnell Professor Emeritus of Christian Nurture, and his wife, Manette, were celebrated during ceremonies outside Marquand Chapel on a bright, sunny, but windswept afternoon. A section of the Quadrangle on the north side of the Chapel near Beecher House was dedicated in their honor, and a special poem for the occasion from University President Richard Levin was read. Though he retired more than four years ago, Adams has continued to be a generous and active member of the YDS community even after his “retirement”—as demonstrated when he accepted President Richard Levin's call to be acting dean of the Divinity School when Richard Wood stepped down at the end of 2000. At that time, President Levin called him “one of the jewels of the University, always willing to assume major responsibility without hesitation.” Professor Adams remains active with the University's United Way campaign and the Connecticut Food Bank; serves on the boards of the Koerner Center for Emeritus Faculty and the Grove Street Cemetery; and is Chair of the Board of Incorporators of the Elizabethan Club. Manette Adams works with several students through Literacy Volunteers and serves on the board of the Yale University Women's Organization. Both are active in the United Church on the Green, where Harry is a member of the Board of Stewards.
Berkeley Divinity School awarded five honorary doctorates during an Evensong in Marquand Chapel. Preaching at the Evensong was the Rev. Peter Gomes, Plummer Professor of Christian Morals and Pusey Minister in the Memorial Church and Member of the Faculty of Divinity at Harvard University.
Honorary Doctor of Divinity Degrees were awarded to Curtis Gustav Almquist, Superior of the Society of St. John the Evangelist, a monastic order based in Massachusetts; and Robert John O'Neill, '81 M.Div., bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado. Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degrees were awarded to Gretchen Wolff Pritchard, '76 Ph.D., minister of children's nurture and children's missioner at the Episcopal Church of St. Paul and St. James in New Haven, CT; Christian R. Sonne, '57 B.A., former chair of the Trustees of Berkeley Divinity School; and Phyllis Tickle, contributing editor in religion to Publishers Weekly.
Dean Harold Attridge presented his State of the School Address at the Annual General Meeting of Alumni and pronounced Yale Divinity School “in great shape.” He said there is very good morale on the faculty and student level and expressed hope that improvements will continue to be made with the help of alumni. Attridge cited student recruitment as one area where significant improvements have occurred and pointed to further diversification of the faculty and student body as a high priority for the future.
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