Scholarship established in honor of Ronald Evans '70 B.D. and wife, Janet
In tribute to the service of Ronald Evans '70 B.D. and his wife, Janet, the First Congregational Church of Darien has given an initial gift to establish a scholarship in their honor at Yale Divinity School.
The Evanses came to the United Church of Christ congregation in Darien, CT 22 years ago, when Ronald Evans was installed as senior pastor. During church services on June 3, a gift in the amount of $10,000 was formally presented to Yale Divinity School Dean Harold Attridge to recognize the Evanses as well as generations of other YDS graduates who have provided leadership to the congregation. Evans stepped down as senior pastor this spring.
Deborah Nelson, who presented the gift on behalf of the congregation and has been at the church for about 15 years, recalled in an interview how much the pastoral leadership of Evans has meant to the First Congregational Church.
"It is a very educated parish," said Nelson. "Ron had a great deal of appeal because he was a very cerebral preacher. He made you think about things.
"You knew that he cared about you. He just had a lovely way about him. He always had a friendly word. He certainly was old school but I personally like that. There aren't many people who say thee and thou anymore in their prayers."
The scholarship, to be known as the "Ronald and Janet Evans Scholarship," will be awarded annually with a preference for students preparing to serve in parish ministry.
John Lindner, director of external relations at Yale Divinity School, said, "Ron has been a beloved pastor and friend, not only for members of his congregation, but also for students and faculty at the Divinity School. For a number of years he used his 'day off' to be at the Divinity School where he could be found co-teaching a course, studying in the library, or volunteering in a variety of ways.
"In retirement, Ron will continue to serve as a member of the Board of Advisors. It is appropriate that a scholarship be established honoring the Evanses that compliments his commitment to encouraging and supporting generations of new leadership for the life of the church."
In a final column in the parish newsletter, Evans wrote, "We have learned so much from so many of you. In every respect this has been for us a shared ministry. Janet has been a continuing support, wise counselor, and thoughtful partner throughout. At the same time, I have sought to stand by her in her community work, and learn from her in her always kind, clear and competent leadership of Person-To-Person."
Person-to-Person is a Darien-based agency that, through sharing of goods and talents, responds to neighbors who lack basic human necessities or resources to improve their lives, by providing practical help, advocacy, and education. Janet Evans, a third-generation social worker, served as director of Person-to-Person until her own retirement several years ago.
Ronald Evans, a member of the Society of Friends (Quakers) with ministerial standing in the UCC, served a UCC congregation in Old Deerfield, MA for 10 years before taking the senior pastor position in Darien. He has served on boards and commissions of the U.S. and World Councils of YMCAs; helped establish a series of regional Hospices; served as a chaplain to the Darien Fire Department; and is currently on the YDS Board of Advisors.
Janet Evans has been active as a member of the Stamford Affordable Housing Action Collaborative and Human Services Planning Council and a board member of the United Way of Stamford and Darien Land Trust.
The Evanses are relocating to Pilgrim Place in Claremont, CA, a retirement community of the United Church of Christ.
Persons wishing to contribute to the scholarship fund may send checks payable to "Yale Divinity School" to The Ronald and Janet Evans Scholarship, c/o Development Office, Yale Divinity School, 409 Prospect St., New Haven, CT 06510.
The First Congregational Church of Darien was founded in 1737 and its first, frame meetinghouse completed in 1744. The current brick, Greek Revival structure was built in 1837.