Yale University.

YDS Home>News

Current Press Releases:


Go to>Archived Press Releases


YALE DIVINITY SCHOOL News Release

CONTACT:
Gus Spohn

Director of Communications
203-432-3466
gus.spohn@yale.edu

For immediate release: February 10, 2009

YALE DIVINITY SCHOOL EXPANDS STUDENT EXCHANGE PROGRAMS TO ASIA

NEW HAVEN, CTYale Divinity School is expanding its international student exchange program, establishing ties to two theological schools in Asia to complement ongoing programs in Germany and England.

ChapelDean Harold Attridge announced the expanded program in an open letter to YDS students posted Feb. 5 on the Divinity School’s web site, then met with students later in the day to discuss the school’s commitment to international study opportunities.

In his letter to students, Attridge called addition of the Asia exchange initiatives “a step toward a new and more dynamic program to engage the world.”

The dean’s announcement came on the heels of a January visit to theological schools in Asia and a December visit to partner institutions in Germany.

“We have just returned from two major visits -- first to Germany in December, where we have existing programs, and, in January, to Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia,” said Attridge. “Early in 2008 we visited the UK, where we had conversations about our ongoing program with Westcott House in Cambridge.  These visits have resulted in improvements to existing exchange programs and the addition of two new opportunities for 2009, with Chung Chi College in Hong Kong and with Trinity Theological College in Singapore.”

Accompanying Attridge to Asia were Associate Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Anna Ramirez and Director of External Relations John Lindner.  Ramirez also accompanied Attridge on the trip to Germany.

An affiliate of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, the Divinity School of Chung Chi College is the only theological education institution operating within a Chinese public university.  It is ecumenical in orientation, deriving support from several traditions:  Congregational, Presbyterian, Reformed, Lutheran, Anglican, and Methodist. There are opportunities for outside service work through ecumenical agencies such as the Amity Foundation and the Hong Kong Christian Council.  Research centers at the Chinese University of Hong Kong include the Center for Catholic Studies, the Center for Christian Studies, the Center for the Study of Daoist Culture, the Center for the Study of Humanistic Buddhism, and the Center for Harmony in Diversity.

CampusTrinity Theological College opened its doors in 1948 under sponsorship of the Methodist, Anglican and Presbyterian churches. The idea for a theological college in Singapore developed out of conversations among church leaders interned in Changi Prison during the Second World War who felt the need to establish an institution to train pastors and church workers.  Trinity operates two significant research centers: The Centre for the Study of Christianity in Asia (CSCA), which provides a forum where Christians in Southeast Asia can collaborate in affirming their distinct Christian ethos and articulating their faith positions; and the Centre for the Development of Christian Ministry, which aims to serve the Church by providing lay training programs, seminars, conferences and research on Bible, theology and ministry.

Initial student exchanges for the new programs will take place during the 2009-10 academic year. According to Ramirez, exchanges will begin on a one-semester basis but might grow to semester-plus-summer exchanges if some non-academic components are added to the programs, such as working with nonprofit agencies.

In his letter, Attridge referenced Yale University President Richard Levin’s commitment to making Yale a “global university” and spoke of a corresponding desire and need for increased international emphasis at Yale Divinity School: “As globalization evolves, patterns of communication, business and culture are being transformed; at the same time, in many parts of the world Christianity is taking on new forms and expressions. At the Divinity School we are committed to assessing what it might mean for us to more fully ‘engage the world’ in the years ahead and to developing programs to better serve and prepare students.”

Ongoing exchange programs exist in Germany with Heidelberg University, the University of Tübingen, and the University of Freiburg.  In England, YDS has an exchange program with Westcott House in Cambridge, which has a close relationship with Cambridge University.

Yale Divinity School is an interdenominational school of theological education that draws its faculty from the major Christian traditions, preparing students for service in lay and ordained ministries, other professions, and academic careers.  It is one of 11 graduate and professional schools at Yale University.  Each year, some 140 students graduate with one of three degrees offered by the school: Master of Divinity, Master of Arts in Religion, and Master of Sacred Theology.


 

YALE DIVINITY SCHOOL News Release

CONTACT:
Gus Spohn

Director of Communications
203-432-3466
gus.spohn@yale.edu

For immediate release: August 27, 2008

CONFERENCE AT YALE DIVINITY SCHOOL TO ADDRESS VULNERABILITY, SECURITY, NUCLEAR WEAPON

NEW HAVEN, CT—Nearly two decades after the end of the Cold War—but at a time when the legacy of nuclear weaponry is still very much alive—religious leaders, policymakers, businesspersons, and scholars will gather at a Yale Divinity School conference in September to take up the topic “Are We Safe Yet?  Vulnerability and Security in an Anxious Age.”

Religious values played a critical role in framing the nuclear weapons debate in the 1980s, and organizers of the Sept. 18-19 Sarah Smith Memorial Conference at Yale believe it is now time for the religious community to take up the subject with renewed vigor—especially because the incoming Administration will conduct a congressionally mandated nuclear posture review in 2009, which will determine the direction of U.S. nuclear weapons policy for the next 5 to 10 years.

The primary aim of the conference will be to promote serious public engagement on the twin topics of security and vulnerability in ways that will shed light on extremely difficult issues of war and peace such as nuclear arms.

“It is vital that the religious community once again bring its unique gifts and contribution to the discussion,” said Yale Divinity School theologian Miroslav Volf, one of the primary conference organizers and director of the Yale Center for Faith and Culture.  “If we cannot describe the seminal questions of what it means to be secure, and what vulnerability is, then we will never be able to comprehensively address the nuclear issue that is currently rising again to public attention.”

Featured keynote speakers at the conference will be Sergio Duarte, United Nations High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, and Douglas Roche, chairman of the Middle Powers Initiative, which seeks to eliminate nuclear arms by working with countries that have renounced the nuclear arms race.  Also participating, among others, will be Jonathan Granoff, president of the Global Security Institute and Co-Chair of the American Bar Association’s Blue Ribbon Task Force on Nuclear Nonproliferation; Jonathan Schell, senior fellow at The Nation Institute and author of The Seventh Decade (Metropolitan, 2007), as well as the seminal The Fate of the Earth (Knopf, 1982); Emilie Townes, the Andrew W. Mellon Professor of African American Religion and Theology at Yale Divinity School and president of the American Academy of Religion; and Tyler Wigg-Stevenson, director of the Two Futures Project, a nuclear disarmament initiative centered around young evangelicals, and policy director at Faithful Security: the National Religious Partnership on the Nuclear Weapons Danger.

The conference, open only to registered participants but available to the general public via webcast, begins on the evening of Thursday, Sept. 18, with a panel discussion.  The second day of the conference starts with Duarte’s address,  “Moral leadership and Nuclear Weapons,” followed by a moderated dialogue featuring Schell and Granoff and then breakout sessions for pastors and theologians.  Roche will deliver his keynote speech, "The Human Right to Peace," in mid-afternoon.  Following a brief open discussion in late afternoon, Volf will offer closing remarks

Said Volf, “As traditionally pursued, security has come with an extremely high price in both monetary and human terms.  The 2008 Sarah Smith Conference will explore whether there are ways to envision vulnerability positively, rather than viewing it exclusively as a liability, and whether we can describe means to understand and enact security outside of the typical turn to power dynamics.”

Discussion of nuclear arms has been magnified recently by calls for reduced nuclear arsenals by both John McCain and Barack Obama. The candidates’ attention to the issue follows on the nonpartisan call for a world free of nuclear weapons by an unlikely quartet of eminent U.S. policy makers—former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and George Schultz, former Secretary of Defense William Perry, and former Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sam Nunn—in a pair of landmark Wall Street Journal Op-Eds in January 2007 and 2008.  Public pronouncements such as these have galvanized the disarmament and non-proliferation community and created a number of new, high-profile initiatives.

The annual Sarah Smith Memorial Conference celebrates the life and ministry of Yale Divinity School graduate Sarah Smith, who had a passion for moral leadership.  She was a speaker at numerous retreats and seminars across the country, was selected as layperson of the year by the Council of Churches and Synagogues, and was nominated as a delegate to the World Conference of Methodism in Río de Janeiro. Smith was also the author of the book Mid-Life: Coming Home (Ragged Edge Press, 1999).

The 2008 conference keynote addresses and panel discussions will be broadcast live on the Yale Divinity School web site, at: http://www.yale.edu/divinity/video/index.shtml.  The proceedings will also be archived on the web for later viewing.

Following the conference, in spring 2009, Yale Divinity School will publish an issue of Reflections, the school’s magazine of ethical and religious inquiry, on the relationship of faith and security, inviting religious communities to continue the conversation.

Further information is available at the conference web site at: http://www.yale.edu/faith/ssmc/ssmc-2008.htm


YALE DIVINITY SCHOOL News Release

CONTACT:
Gus Spohn

Director of Communications
203-432-3466
gus.spohn@yale.edu

For immediate release: February 25, 2008

THEOLOGIAN SERENE JONES LEAVING YALE DIVINITY SCHOOL TO HEAD UNION THEOLOGICAL SEMINAR

NEW HAVEN, CT—Serene Jones, the Titus Street Professor of Theology at Yale Divinity School, has accepted an offer to serve as president of Union Theological Seminary in New York City, a school with a long history of ties to YDS and where Reinhold Niebuhr, one of YDS’s most illustrious graduates, once taught.

The appointment was announced today by Union, which said Jones will assume her new position on July 1.  Union, which like YDS is ecumenical in orientation, had conducted a six-month search to fill the post being vacated by retiring president Joseph Hough, a 1959 graduate of YDS.

"Serene Jones will be greatly missed at Yale Divinity School and within the broader university community," said Yale Divinity School Dean Harold Attridge.  "She has been a vital member of the YDS faculty since 1991 as a teacher of theology, but her influence has extended far beyond the classroom.

"Serene has been an active participant in day-to-day life on Sterling Divinity Quadrangle, and she has been one of the primary links between YDS and Yale’s professional schools, particularly Law, and the Faculty of Arts and Sciences—where she has played significant roles in the Department of Religious Studies, the Department of African American Studies, and the Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies program"

In making today’s announcement, David Callard, chairman of Union’s Board of Trustees, stated, "Dr. Jones’s exceptional leadership style and distinguished scholarship make her the ideal person to lead this vibrant theological institution, which has been home to notable scholars Reinhold Niebuhr, Paul Tillich, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

"With Dr. Jones’s vision and commitment, Union is positioned not only to continue its role as a leading institution of theological education but also to be a strong voice at a time when religion, with all its pluralistic manifestations, has become an increasingly powerful and divisive issue."

Jones expressed excitement about taking the reins at Union but noted that she is leaving with fond feelings about her time at Yale—which has included not only 17 years as a teacher but the time she spent earning an M.Div. at YDS and a Ph.D. in theology at the Graduate School, and her early childhood years.  Jones was born while her father was pursuing his own degree at YDS, and she grew up around the Yale campus as he completed work on his B.D. and, then, his Ph.D.

"I am thrilled to be at the helm of a institution of theological education as esteemed and historic as Union Theological Seminary," said Jones.  "I am very sad to be leaving Yale, however. My time here—now more than half my life—has been filled with countless treasured friendships and an ongoing sense of intellectual companionship that’s been as rich as it has been expansive.

"Yale Divinity School is a magical place for ministerial formation—no other place like it on earth.  The Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program is a community marked by academic earnestness and lively intellectual commitment.  And the project I have participated in at the MacMillan Center—The Women, Religion, and Globalization Project—has been the most exciting collaborative endeavor of my career.

"I feel privileged to have benefited from Yale’s many resources over the years, and I will take a great deal of what I learned at Yale with me.  After twenty-six years, Yale has seeped into my bones."

In an interview published in the winter 2005 issue of Spectrum, Yale Divinity School’s alumni magazine, Jones described her teaching style this way:  "What I spend most of my time doing is trying to engage and expand [students’] imaginations and hence their deepest desires.  I teach and write to their imaginative universes—to the landscape of images, expectations, and possibilities that form the dramatic mental worlds in which their thoughts unfold."

Emilie M. Townes, the Andrew W. Mellon Professor of African-American Religion and Theology at Yale Divinity School and current president of the American Academy of Religion, said,  "I do not think it is a wise or faithful thing to stand in the way of a profound call.  It is clear that this is what Serene is answering with her decision to accept Union’s presidency."  Townes, who came to YDS from a teaching position at Union, added, "I believe that she will lead Union wisely and with incredible creativity and foresight and not only will Union be blessed by her leadership, but all of theological education."

And Margaret Farley, a close colleague of Jones and the Gilbert L. Stark Professor Emerita of Christian Ethics, said, "As an outstanding theologian, an interdisciplinary presence at Yale, a colleague, and friend, Serene Jones will be sorely missed at Yale Divinity School.  Nonetheless, her talents are multiple and stunning, so I am delighted that she will now have an opportunity to exercise new forms of leadership not only at Union Theological Seminary but within the national and international communities of theological education."

Laura Wexler, professor of American Studies and professor of Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies program, called Jones "an integral and vibrant member" of the program who is "committed to fostering feminist scholarship and activism."  In Jones’s role as acting chair of WGSS, Wexler noted, she has brought "energy, vision and leadership to the program as it seeks a higher profile in the university at large."

Said Wexler, "Through her work in gender studies she has also forged a significant new alliance between the Yale Divinity School and the main campus as one of three principle investigators (along with Cheryl Doss and myself) of the Women, Religion and Globalization grant newly awarded by the Luce Foundation to the Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies Program, the Yale Divinity School and the MacMillan Center.  I am proud that WGSS has nurtured, and been nurtured by, this exceptional theologian who is so very, very alive to women’s local and global challenges."

Emily P. Bakemeier, associate provost of Yale University, said, "Serene's contributions to Yale University have been extensive, varied, and manifest. She has an extraordinary ability to bridge disciplines and gather people together to share ideas and develop creative intellectual and practical endeavors to achieve great results. How fortunate Union will be to have Serene's energy, her intellect, and her wisdom dedicated to guiding its future. Serene will be missed terribly by the many people, programs, departments, and schools with which she has been involved here at Yale."

"Clearly, Serene is one of the outstanding young theologians on the American theological landscape, and Union is fortunate to have her at the helm," Attridge said.  "We wish Serene the very best and look forward to continued interaction with her as she pursues new challenges at one of the nation’s great institutions of theological learning.


YALE DIVINITY SCHOOL News Release

For immediate release: February 6, 2008

LEADING SCHOLARS AND RELIGIOUS ENVIRONMENTALISTS TO ADDRESS PRESSING ISSUES AT YALE CONFERENCE ON RELIGION AND ECOLOGY

NEW HAVEN, CT—A major conference exploring the emerging alliance of religion and ecology will be held at Yale University, February 28 - March 2, when engaged scholars and grassroots religious environmentalists meet to share ideas and strategies about work taking place across the U.S. and Canada.  The conference is organized by Mary Evelyn Tucker and John Grim, co-directors of the Forum on Religion and Ecology at Yale, and sponsored by the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and Yale Divinity School.

 The conference, "Renewing Hope: Pathways of Religious Environmentalism," comes at a time of increasing awareness of climate change and global warming, amid growing momentum to address these environmental challenges from within the religious traditions.  For instance, Pope Benedict XVI will address the moral dimensions of climate change at the United Nations in April, and the evangelical community in the United States has been lobbying to highlight the effects of climate change on the poor.

Sallie McFague of the Vancouver School of Theology, a leading thinker for many years on the subject of religion and the environment, will deliver the conference's opening lecture on the topic  "A New Climate for Theology: God, the World, and Global Warming."

 "This conference promises to underscore how much common ground exists between the faith and environmental communities," said Yale Divinity School Dean Harold Attridge.  "These synergies have tremendous potential, and a conference like this is a small but important step toward realizing proper stewardship of God's creation."

Highlighting the conference is a premiere of Renewal, a new film focusing on religious environmental work in several Jewish, Christian, and Islamic communities.  Leading environmentalist and author Bill McKibben says of Renewal, "The religious environmental movement is potentially key to dealing with the greatest problem humans have ever faced, and it has never been captured in more breadth and force than in Renewal."

McFague's lecture on Thursday, Feb. 28 at 6:30 p.m, and the screening of Renewal on Friday, Feb. 29 at 6:30 p.m., are both free and open to the public, although other aspects of the conference require prior registration.  The lecture and screening will take place at Sterling Divinity Quadrangle, 409 Prospect St., New Haven.

In breakout sessions over the four-day event, scholars, theologians, and other religious leaders will examine the resources of their traditions for environmental ethics and practice.  In addition, pressing issues related to water, climate change, energy, and eco-design will be discussed with expert facilitators.

The conference will culminate in a gala dinner featuring local and organic food.  Gus Speth, dean of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, will address conference participants and suggest that religious communities are key partners with science and policy in creating a sustainable future.

Speth said, "The religions have a key role to play in helping to moderate values and inspire action for environmental protection, restoration, and renewal."

Conference organizers expect one outcome of the meeting to be the creation of new networks inspiring creative intersections of religion and ecology.

Plans are to provide live streaming of at least two of the conference sessions—McFague’s Thursday evening address and a panel presentation on Friday afternoon—on the Yale Divinity School web site at http://www.yale.edu/divinity/video/index.shtml.

For complete, up-to-date conference details go to:
http://www.yale.edu/divinity/news/071128_news_renewing.shtml

For further information on religion and ecology see:
http://www.yale.edu/religionandecology

CONTACTS:

Gustav Spohn, Director of Communications and Publications, Yale Divinity School, 203-432-3466, gus.spohn@yale.edu

David DeFusco, Director of Communications, Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, 203-436-4842, david.defusco@yale.edu

Tara C. Maguire Knopick, The Forum on Religion and Ecology at Yale, tcmk@aya.yale.edu


YALE DIVINITY SCHOOL News Release

CONTACT:
Gus Spohn

Director of Communications
203-432-3466
gus.spohn@yale.edu

For immediate release: December 7, 2007

FAITH AND CITIZENSHIP PANELISTS: SCRUTINY OF FAITH A HEALTHY DIMENSION OF ELECTION YEAR DISCOURSE

WASHINGTON, DC-In the run-up to another presidential election year, almost 100 people packed a room at the National Press Club in the nation's capitol on Dec. 6 to hear a panel of writers and representatives from the government, non-profit and academic sectors speak on the topic "Faith and Citizenship: The Conversation in 2008." The occasion was the formal launch of the fall 2007 issue of Yale Divinity School's magazine of theological and ethical inquiry, Reflections, which was entirely devoted to the subject of faith and citizenship.

Several panelists alluded to the speech delivered earlier in the day by GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney-under pressure to discuss his Mormon faith-and how such scrutiny of public and private expressions of faith can be a healthy dimension of election year discourse.

"Every election can be a 'seminar on faith,'" said panelist Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, former Lt. Gov. of Maryland, eldest child of Robert F. Kennedy, and author of Failing America's Faithful: How today's Churches Are Mixing God with Politics and Losing Their Way. "The election year is a terrific opportunity... for churches to ask themselves 'What are we doing (to advance our values) and are we being true to our traditions?'... What's going on in this election is very encouraging."

In his speech, Romney promised a national television audience that Mormon officials would not "exert influence on presidential decisions" if he were elected president. Meanwhile, the faith expressions of Democratic hopeful Barak Obama and surging support for Southern Baptist minister Mike Huckabee, another GOP candidate, were also making religion and politics a significant topic in the election campaign.

Several panelists called for a new tenor to the public discourse, where people of different faith traditions are mutually respectful and willing to learn from one another.

"What we need so much now is a certain amount of religious humility," said panelist E.J. Dionne, syndicated Washington Post columnist and author of the forthcoming book Souled Out: Reclaiming Faith and Politics After the Religious Right. "But how do you combine passion and humility? We need to have passion to move beyond this period of culture war that is making so many problems impossible to solve."

In the fall 2007 issue of Reflections, entitled Faith and Citizenship in Turbulent Times, a number of well-known thinkers express their views, including each of the panelists.

In addition to Dionne and Townsend, panelists included the Rev. Jennifer Butler, executive director of Faith in Public Life; Prof. Serene Jones, Yale Divinity School and faculty guest editor of the fall 2007 issue of Reflections; Congressman David Price of North Carolina, chair of the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee; Prof. Harry Stout, Yale Divinity School, author of the book Upon the Altar of the Nation: A Moral History of the Civil War; and Ray Waddle, editor, Reflections, and former religion editor of The Tennessean in Nashville.

The panel was moderated by Yale Divinity School Dean Harold Attridge, a Catholic layman, New Testament scholar and general editor of the revised edition of The HarperCollins Study Bible, 2006. In his column introducing the fall 2007 issue of Reflections, Attridge wrote, "As we considered the topic at YDS, we came to see how useful it would be to frame the issues involved in a fresh way, by examining our identity as people of faith and as citizens...

"In a presiding spirit of theological humility but also urgency, we offer these articles probing the intersection of religious and civil virtues, which takes place now in such a volatile global climate of religious intensity, fragile national identities, and globalization... We hope these articles individually and collectively contribute to a vital public discourse concerning faith in public life."

Like most other issues of Reflections - for example, recent issues on God's Green Earth: Creation, Faith, Crisis and The Future of the Prophetic Voice -publication of Faith and Citizenship followed several initiatives and conferences at Yale Divinity School during the preceding year that helped shape the conversation, both from the point of view of U.S. citizenship and global citizenship.

The 76-page fall issue of Reflections also includes stimulating articles by, among others, Oliver Thomas, executive director of the Niswonger Foundation in Greeneville, TN, "The American Consensus: Civic, Not Religious"; John Danforth, former senator from Missouri, "Paul's Primer for Politics"; James M. Lawson, Jr., associate of Martin Luther King, Jr. and former pastor of Holman United Methodist Church in Los Angeles, "A Nation Faces Its Own 'Terrible Alternatives'"; Robert Wuthnow, chair of the Department of Sociology and Center for the Study of Religion at Princeton University, "The Divided Generation: Religion, Youth, and Public Life"; and Randall Balmer, professor of American religious history at Barnard College, Columbia University, "The Challenge of Christian Citizenship."

Reflections, which is distributed free, has a circulation of about 20,000. It is sent to all alumni of Yale Divinity School and to anyone who requests a subscription.

A web site accompanying each issue features a study guide and multimedia presentation, in addition to the table of contents, lead article, and columns by the dean and the editor. The web site also has provision for ordering subscriptions or individual copies of the magazine. It can be found at http://www.yale.edu/reflections/.

Selected quotations from the Reflections fall 2007 issue, Faith and Citizenship in Turbulent Times:

E.J. Dionne: "The task the Niebuhrs and John Courtney Murray took on in the 1940s and 1950s-to develop what might be called a theology of democracy-is once again urgent."

Heidi Hadsell, president of Hartford Seminary: "In a radically unequal and suffering world, in a country as rich and powerful as the United States, [globalization] means understanding and critiquing the actions of one's own nation, not simply according to national well-being, or national self-interest, but according to their impact on others around the globe."

Harry Stout: "Myths die hard, and, for many Americans, the one truly intolerable, unacceptable notion even now is that America is one more profane nation in the wilderness of this world."

Jan Egeland, special advisor to the United Nations secretary general: "Religion has to work intensively with itself to avoid becoming a tool of conflict and again clearly be a tool for peace."

Oliver Thomas: "There is not and never will be a religious consensus in America. It's one of a dozen good reasons why we should never return to the practice of teacher-led prayers in our public schools. The first and most intractable question would always be: Whose prayer?"

Randall Balmer: "Religion always functions best at the margins of society, not in the councils of power, for when religion hankers after power it loses its prophetic voice."

Robert Wuthnow: "Whereas young adults are less likely than older adults to think of America as a Christian nation, they are more likely to consider it acceptable for political leaders to talk about religion."

Kathleen Kennedy Townsend: "The reborn churches of the twenty-first century will care as much about the actions of groups of people and governments as they will about personal moral behavior."

James M. Lawson, Jr.: "Our government... is the number one enemy of peace and justice in the world today. It is the only superpower, and it is managed by its military and defense industry as lobbied by its plantation capitalism, which demands the right to make the entire world its plantation."

John Danforth: "Christianity does not give us an agenda for American politics. It does not provide policy positions that we can identify with certainty as being Christian. What it does offer is an approach, a way of thinking about and engaging in politics that is highly relevant to our ability to live together as one nation, despite our strongly held differences."

David E. Price: "Claiming divine sanction for our own power or program does not merely undermine American pluralism; it also flies in the face of our religious understanding of human sinfulness and divine transcendence."

Jennifer Butler: "As my staff reaches out to unlikely allies, we have been surprised that there seems no limit to how far we might go. Perhaps these new alliances are helped because of a changing of the guard-a new generation sick of the culture wars and willing to try something new."


PRINTER FRIENDLY PDF

YALE DIVINITY SCHOOL News Release

CONTACT:
Gus Spohn

Director of Communications
203-432-3466
gus.spohn@yale.edu

For immediate release: November 18, 2007

HISTORIC UNANIMITY OF MAJOR CHRISTIAN LEADERS, LIBERAL AND EVANGELICAL ALIKE, MARKS RESPONSE TO UNPRECEDENTED OVERTURE BY INFLUENTIAL MUSLIMS TO CHRISTIANS WORLDWIDE

NEW HAVEN, CT-Nearly 300 prominent Christians representing a broad spectrum of theological perspectives have endorsed Loving God and Neighbor Together - a document calling for Christian and Muslim leaders "at every level" to carry forward "the earnest work of determining how God would have us fulfill the requirement that we love God and one another."

The statement, published in its entirety as a full-page advertisement in the New York Times (pdf) on Nov. 18, was initially released by four Yale Divinity School scholars in mid-October in response to the widely publicized open letter to the Christian community from 138 Muslim leaders, A Common Word Between Us and You.  In that letter, Muslim scholars, clerics and intellectuals pointed to love of God and love of neighbor as shared principles that can serve as a solid foundation for peace and understanding.

Harold Attridge, dean of Yale Divinity School, said the decision to run the advertisement-which includes the names of many of the endorsers-was made to capitalize on current momentum and gain further support for the document, entitled Loving God and Neighbor Together: A Christian Response to A Common Word Between Us and You. [Click here to add your name as a signatory.] Joining Attridge in releasing the document in October were Miroslav Volf, founder and director of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture and Henry B. Wright Professor of Systematic Theology; Joseph Cumming, director of the Reconciliation Program at the Yale Center for Faith & Culture; and Emilie M. Townes, the Andrew W. Mellon Professor of African American Religion and Theology and president-elect of the American Academy of Religion.

Loving God and Neighbor says, "A Common Word Between Us and You identifies some core common ground between Christianity and Islam which lies at the heart of our respective faiths as well as at the heart of the most ancient Abrahamic faith, Judaism. Jesus Christ's call to love God and neighbor was rooted in the divine revelation to the people of Israel embodied in the Torah (Deuteronomy 6:5; Leviticus 19:18).  We receive the open letter as a Muslim hand of conviviality and cooperation extended to Christians worldwide. In this response we extend our own Christian hand in return, so that together with all other human beings we may live in peace and justice as we seek to love God and our neighbors."

Attridge said, "The early twentieth century has proven to be a critical time for relations between Christians and Muslims throughout the world.  In a climate where the voices of extremism and intolerance are heard loud and clear it is important that men and women of good will on both sides of that religious fault line reach out and affirm the values that they share."

He noted that the Common Word document from the Islamic world "presented an extraordinary opportunity to effect that outreach and further constructive communication between the religious leadership of the Christian and Muslim worlds."

Joining the Yale Divinity School scholars are Christians at various points on the theological spectrum, including, for example:  Rick Warren, evangelical pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, CA and author of The Purpose Driven Life, and Harold Masback III of The Congregational Church of New Canaan in Connecticut; William Graham, dean of Harvard Divinity School, and Richard Mouw, president of evangelical Fuller Theological Seminary; John M. Buchanan of The Christian Century, a mainline Protestant publication, and David Neff of the evangelical flagship publication Christianity Today; Diana Eck of Harvard Divinity School and Marguerite Shuster of Fuller Theological Seminary.

The Yale Center for Faith & Culture's Volf, author of The End of Memory: Remembering Rightly in a Violent World and described by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams as "one of the most celebrated theologians of our day," said, "The extent of agreement of major Christian leaders-representing a broad diversity of positions--in responding to the Muslim initiative is truly extraordinary, and may represent a sea-change in relations of Christians to Muslims.

"Evangelicals and liberals can now join in common effort, not just around the pressing problems of poverty and environmental degradation but around the issue of Muslim Christian relations-a defining issue of the 21 st century. This has the potential of being one of the most hopeful developments in inter-faith relations in recent decades."

The diversity of the signatories to the Christian document mirrored the wide appeal of the Muslim document, as the 138 signers of the Common Word letter included leaders and scholars from the Middle East, Gulf states, North Africa, Turkey, Indonesia and virtually every corner of the Muslim world, representing all major schools of Islamic thought.

The New York Times advertisement is being paid for by a member of the Yale Divinity School Board of Advisors who wishes to remain anonymous and who has a passion for Christian/Muslim reconciliation efforts.

Loving God and Neighbor Together concludes, "We are persuaded that our next step should be for our leaders at every level to meet together and begin the earnest work of determining how God would have us fulfill the requirement that we love God and one another. It is with humility and hope that we receive your generous letter, and we commit ourselves to labor together in heart, soul, mind and strength for the objectives you so appropriately propose."

In follow-up to the statement, the Yale Center for Faith and Culture is working directly with drafters of A Common Word Between Us and You and with other leading institutions and individuals in interfaith dialogue to schedule a series of several conferences and workshops in the U.S., the U.K. and the Middle East.  Plans are to involve many of the top signatories of both the Muslim letter and the Christian response in all events, and also to include other key Muslim, Christian and Jewish leaders.

"We are committed to building on the religious foundation of love of God and of neighbor as we address not only areas of agreement, but also substantive points of disagreement and conflict between our communities, and we are committed to seeking real resolution to real grievances from both sides," Volf said.

******************

Yale Divinity School is an interdenominational school of theological education that draws its faculty from the major Christian traditions, preparing students for service in lay and ordained ministries, other professions, and academic careers. It is one of 11 graduate and professional schools at Yale University. Each year, some 140 students graduate with one of three degrees offered by the school: Master of Divinity, Master of Arts in Religion, and Master of Sacred Theology. The school's mission statement says, " Yale Divinity School has an enduring commitment to foster the knowledge and love of God through critical engagement with the traditions of the Christian churches in the context of the contemporary world." http://www.yale.edu/divinity


The mission of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture at Yale Divinity School is "to promote the practice of faith in all spheres of life through theological research and leadership development." http://www.yale.edu/faith

The goal of the Reconciliation Program at the Center for Faith and Culture is to "promote reconciliation between Muslims and Christians, and between Muslim nations and the West, drawing on the resources of the Abrahamic faiths and the teachings and person of Jesus." http://www.yale.edu/faith/reconciliation

YALE DIVINITY SCHOOL News Release

CONTACT:
Gus Spohn

Director of Communications
203-432-3466
gus.spohn@yale.edu

For immediate release: October 11, 2007 (revised Oct. 16, 2007)

YALE DIVINITY SCHOOL SCHOLARS RESPOND TO "A COMMON WORD BETWEEN US AND YOU"

NEW HAVEN, CT-Four Yale Divinity School scholars, including the dean and the president-elect of the American Academy of Religion, have released a statement warmly embracing the open letter "A Common Word between Us and You," released worldwide today and signed by 138 Muslim scholars, clerics, and intellectuals.

The statement from the Yale scholars, entitled Loving God and Neighbor Together: A Christian Response to A Common Word between Us and You (see below) says, "We receive A Common Word as a Muslim hand of conviviality and cooperation extended to Christians world-wide. In this response we extend our own Christian hand in return, so that together with all other human beings we may live in peace and justice as we seek to love God and our neighbors."

The statement was issued by Harold Attridge, dean of Yale Divinity School and Lillian Claus Prof of New Testament; Miroslav Volf, director of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture and Henry B. Wright Professor of Systematic Theology; Joseph Cumming, director of the Reconciliation Program at the Yale Center for Faith & Culture; and Emilie M. Townes, the Andrew W. Mellon Professor of African American Religion and Theology and president-elect of the American Academy of Religion. More scholars are expected to endorse the statement as it is circulated at Yale Divinity School and at other academic institutions across the country.

The Yale scholars note, "A Common Word between Us and You identifies some core common ground between Christianity and Islam which lies at the heart of our respective faiths as well as at the heart of the most ancient Abrahamic faith, Judaism. Jesus Christ's call to love God and neighbor was rooted in the divine revelation to the people of Israel embodied in the Torah (Deuteronomy 6:5; Leviticus 19:18)."

Volf, whose latest book is The End of Memory: Remembering Rightly in a Violent World, said he was "deeply encouraged and challenged" by the open letter, which he called "historic, courageous, and marked by deep insight and generosity of spirit." The Yale authors praised the depth of "A Common Word," particularly the degree to which the signatories identified important common ground between Muslim and Christian communities, in a time when relations between these communities are so often strained. While the Yale reply acknowledges the undeniable differences between Islam and Christianity, Volf believes that A Common Word "opens new possibilities for dialogue and cooperation between Muslims and Christians."

"A Common Word," the Yale scholars hope, will lead to a new level of open communication and honest cooperation between Muslims and Christians, although much work remains. The Yale statement concludes, "We are persuaded that our next step should be for our leaders at every level to meet together and begin the earnest work of determining how God would have us fulfill the requirement that we love God and one another. It is with humility and hope that we receive your generous letter, and we commit ourselves to labor together in heart, soul, mind and strength for the objectives you so appropriately propose."

#################

Yale Divinity School is an interdenominational school of theological education that draws its faculty from the major Christian traditions, preparing students for service in lay and ordained ministries, other professions, and academic careers. It is one of 11 graduate and professional schools at Yale University. Each year, some 140 students graduate with one of three degrees offered by the school: Master of Divinity, Master of Arts in Religion, and Master of Sacred Theology. The school's mission statement says, "Yale Divinity School has an enduring commitment to foster the knowledge and love of God through critical engagement with the traditions of the Christian churches in the context of the contemporary world." http://www.yale.edu/divinity

The mission of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture is "to promote the practice of faith in all spheres of life through theological research and leadership development." http://www.yale.edu/faith

The goal of the Reconciliation Program is to "promote reconciliation between Muslims and Christians, and between Muslim nations and the West, drawing on the resources of the Abrahamic faiths and the teachings and person of Jesus." http://www.yale.edu/faith/reconciliation

The Initiative on Religion and Politics at Yale seeks to foster thoughtful activism, enrich scholarly discourse, and deepen public conversation on the place of religion in public life, both nationally and internationally. http://www.yale.edu/religionandpolitics/

 


YALE DIVINITY SCHOOL News Release

CONTACT:
Gus Spohn

Director of Communications
203-432-3466
gus.spohn@yale.edu

For immediate release: October 9, 2007 (revised October 23, 2007)

GRANTS TOTALING $1.5 MILLION TO BOOST FINANCIAL AID AT YALE DIVINITY SCHOOL

NEW HAVEN, CT-Yale Divinity School is the recipient of two grants in support of financial aid totaling $1.5 million, one in honor of the Rev. Sidney Lovett, and the other a challenge grant that will provide matching funds for endowed scholarships. Made possible through the generosity of two Yale alumni who wish to remain anonymous, the grants provide significant momentum for the school's ultimate goal of making a YDS education tuition-free for all.

Sidney LovettRev. Lovett, who died in 1979, was the renowned chaplain at Yale University from 1932 to 1958. The $1 million Sidney Lovett Scholarship Fund is open for additional contributions from alumni and friends who wish to honor his memory.

In announcing creation of the Lovett Scholarship, Harold Attridge, dean of Yale Divinity School, said, "The extraordinary generosity of these donors will have an immediate impact on students by establishing an endowment that will provide the equivalent of at least two full-tuition scholarships annually. In the long term, it moves us closer to our goal of offering tuition-free education to all accepted students."

In addition to his duties as chaplain, Rev. Lovett, known affectionately as "Uncle Sid," also taught biblical literature and was master of Pierson College. A pacifist, he was active in social concerns for peace and, during World War II, served as president of the World Student Service Fund. In retirement, he was executive director of Yale/China in Hong Kong. In honoring Lovett's memory, former Yale president A. Bartlett Giamatti said, "Sid Lovett embodied all that Yale stands for and wants to be. Perhaps no Yale person in this century touched as many lives in this community and beyond."

The $500,000 challenge grant, to be known as the Divinity School Challenge, will provide matching funds for endowed scholarships at the school. Under the grant, contributions from alumni and friends to the Divinity School in the $10,000-$100,000 range will be matched on a one-to-one basis.

Yale Divinity School Dean Harold Attridge expressed confidence that the challenge grant will serve as an incentive for alumni to give to YDS, realizing that the value of their gifts can be doubled through the match. The Challenge will offer donors naming opportunities for gifts of $50,000 or more.

At present, Yale Divinity School provides scholarship money to cover, on average, approximately 65 percent of total tuition costs for each student. The two grants will significantly enhance the Divinity School's ability to enroll talented and dedicated students.

Attridge announced the grants on Oct. 9 at the conclusion of his annual "State of the School" address during the YDS Convocation and Reunions. The launch of the Divinity School's Gift of a Lifetime planned giving initiative also occurred on Oct. 9. Planned gifts, which involve bequests, trusts and life income agreements, are also eligible for a match under the challenge grant, but those gifts must be $25,000 or higher to qualify.

Yale Divinity School is an interdenominational school of theological education that draws its faculty from the major Christian traditions, preparing students for service in lay and ordained ministries, other professions, and academic careers. It is one of 11 graduate and professional schools at Yale University. Each year, some 140 students graduate with one of three degrees offered by the school: Master of Divinity, Master of Arts in Religion, and Master of Sacred Theology.


YALE DIVINITY SCHOOL News Release

CONTACT:
Gus Spohn

Director of Communications
203-432-3466
gus.spohn@yale.edu

For immediate release: September 14, 2007

UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO THEOLOGIAN TO DELIVER BAINTON LECTURE

Go> View this lecture as a live webcast.

NEW HAVEN, CT-Bernard McGinn, the Naomi Shenstone Donnelley Professor Emeritus of Historical Theology and of the History of Christianity at the University of Chicago Divinity School, will deliver the 2007 Bainton Lecture at Yale Divinity School on Oct. 16. His topic will be The Dynamic Structure of Mystical Consciousness.

Bernard McGinnMcGinn is currently president of the Medieval Academy of America and editor-in-chief of the 115-volume Paulist Press series Classics of Western Spirituality. He is past president of both the American Catholic Historical Association and the American Society of Church History.

He is the author of numerous books including, most recently: The Doctors of the Church: Thirty-Three Men and Women Who Shaped Christianity, New York: Crossroad; Meister Eckhart's Mystical Thought. The Man from Whom God Hid Nothing, New York: Crossroad; Early Christian Mystics. The Divine Vision of the Spiritual Masters, with Patricia Ferris McGinn, New York: Crossroad; The Harvest of Mysticism in Medieval Germany (1300-1500). Vol. 4 of The Presence of God, New York: Crossroad.

McGinn began his teaching career as a lecturer at the Catholic University of America in 1968-69, then moved to the University of Chicago Divinity School the following year. He became professor of historical theology and history of Christianity in 1978 and was named the Naomi Shenstone Donnelley Professor in 1992. He earned his B.A. at St. Joseph's Seminary and College, the S.T.L. from the Pontifical Gregorian University, and his Ph.D., in 1970, from Brandeis University.

Among his specialized areas of interest are the history of Christian thought, Western religious traditions, late Medieval and early modern mysticism, monasticism, the apocalyptic tradition, Christian art, the medieval papacy, and heresy and dissent in Medieval culture.

"Modern writing on mysticism has often taken mystical experience as its basic object of study, seeking to determine its nature and cross-cultural applicability," McGinn said. "This paper will argue for using the term "mystical consciousness" as a more adequate way to describe the full range of the transformation of knowing and loving that takes place through direct and hidden (mystical) encounter with God. Developing aspects of the cognitional theory of Bernard Lonergan, the model of mystical consciousness will be illustrated by a brief examination of the mysticism of Meister Eckhart, Nicholas of Cusa, and John of the Cross."

The lecture will begin at 5:15 p.m. in Niebuhr Lecture Hall at Yale Divinity School, 409 Prospect St., New Haven. There will be a reception following the lecture in the Sarah Smith Gallery.


YALE DIVINITY SCHOOL News Release

CONTACT:
Gus Spohn

Director of Communications
203-432-3466
gus.spohn@yale.edu

For immediate release: June 27, 2007

JOSEPH BRITTON TO SERVE SECOND TERM AS DEAN OF BERKELEY DIVINITY SCHOOL AT YALE

NEW HAVEN, CT-Joseph H. Britton will serve a second five-year term as dean of Berkeley Divinity School, the Episcopal Church affiliate of Yale Divinity School, beginning at the end of his current term in 2008. In agreeing to another term, Britton called the Yale/Berkeley collaboration an "extraordinary environment for theological education." In a joint June 4 communication to the Yale and Berkeley communities, YDS Dean Harold Attridge and George Fowlkes, chair of the BDS Board of Trustees, said they were delighted that Britton will stay on for a second term.

"We warmly welcome the reappointment of Rev. Joseph Britton as Dean of Berkeley Divinity School," said Attridge this week. "During the last four years Rev. Britton has successfully brought BDS into a closer working relationship with Yale Divinity School; stabilized the BDS budget; developed new programmatic emphases for the Anglican Colloquy, the centerpiece of Berkeley's educational program; supported the important Annand program of spiritual formation; and laid the foundation for Berkeley's participation in our current capital campaign."

For his part, Britton said, "Over the last four years, I have become more and more aware of how uniquely positioned Berkeley Divinity School is as an Episcopal seminary. As our collaboration with Yale steadily deepens, our students have ever greater opportunities to develop their own capacity for pastoral leadership. I look forward to being part of this extraordinary environment for theological education at a time which is clearly so positive for both Berkeley and Yale Divinity Schools."

Attridge added, "During a time of controversy in the Anglican communion, [Britton] has worked diligently to keep lines of communication open between elements of the church. He has sought to position Berkeley Divinity School to take full advantage of its position in relationship with YDS and with the wider Yale University community. With his wife Karla, he has overseen the restoration of the Berkeley Center on St. Ronan Street and developed now forms of use of the space for the service of the Berkeley community."

"We look forward to five more years of fruitful collaboration with Joe, his wife Karla, and their son Nico, and wish him every success in his role of continuing leadership of Berkeley," Attridge concluded.

Berkeley and Yale instituted their collaboration in 1971. Under the arrangement, YDS/Berkeley students receive a degree from Yale Divinity School and a diploma in Anglican studies from Berkeley recognizing specialized training in the Anglican tradition.

Britton has extensive experience in parishes of the Episcopal Church in the United States and Europe. He served as canon missioner of the Convocation of American Churches in Europe and was the founding director of the Institute of Christian Studies. With wide involvement in ecumenical relationships, he has a particular academic interest in piety as the synthesis of religious faith and practice in the lives of believing men and women. As an Episcopal Church Foundation Fellow, he completed a dissertation on "Piety as Participation in the Divine Concern: The Mystical Realism of A. J. Heschel."

Britton has served as associate editor of the Anglican Theological Review and as a member of the Standing Commission on Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations of the Episcopal Church. He has published articles in The Anglican Theological Review, Sewanee Theological Review, and Anglican and Episcopal History.

He holds an A.B. from Harvard University, an M.Div. from The General Theological Seminary, and a Th.D. from the Institut Catholique de Paris.


YALE DIVINITY SCHOOL News Release

CONTACT:
Gus Spohn

Director of Communications
203-432-3466
gus.spohn@yale.edu

For immediate release: June 26, 2007

YALE DIVINITY SCHOOL PUBLICATION EXPLORES ISSUES OF FAITH, ENVIRONMENT

NEW HAVEN, CT-The Spring 2007 issue of Reflections, Yale Divinity School's magazine of religious inquiry and opinion, focuses on the relationship between religious belief and care of the environment. The issue, entitled GOD'S GREEN EARTH: Creation, Faith, Crisis, features the views of some of the world's leading thinkers on the subject, including Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew; writer Bill McKibben; James Gustave Speth, dean of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies; and Green Belt Movement founder and 2004 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Wangari Maathai.

In the lead article, Mary Evelyn Tucker and John Grim, founders of the Forum on Religion and Ecology and members of the Yale Divinity School faculty, set the tone for the 76-page issue when they write, "A many-faceted alliance of religion and ecology along with a new global ethics is awakening around the planet... This is a new moment for the world's religions, and they have a vital role to play in the emergence of a more comprehensive environmental ethics. The urgency cannot be underestimated. Indeed, the flourishing of the Earth community may depend on it."

The Spring 2007 Reflections also marks the first issue published under the guidance of a new editor, Ray Waddle, longtime religion editor of The Tennessean in Nashville, TN, who joined the magazine staff early this year. In his column, Waddle writes, "Directly or indirectly, the words and images in this Reflections issue point to something strange and urgent about the new century. Despite our civilization's dazzling tonnage of data, we labor with a deficit. We claim a paucity of convincing metaphors that can explain this world, its damage and pain, its yearnings and interconnectedness, in ways that mobilize consensus and healing." Readers may discover some valuable models for consensus and healing in the pages of GOD'S GREEN EARTH.

Additional resources, including a companion study guide to GOD'S GREEN EARTH, will be available in mid-July on the Yale Divinity School web site at: http://www.yale.edu/reflections/ Subscriptions to Reflections are free and can be requested on the web site, where multiple copies can also be ordered.

A major symposium on religion and the environment, "Renewing Hope: Pathways of Religious Environmentalism," organized by Tucker and Grim, will be held at Yale Feb. 29-March 2, 2008. It is jointly sponsored by Yale Divinity School, the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, the Yale Center for Bioethics, and the Forum on Religion and Ecology.

Yale Divinity School is an interdenominational, nonsectarian school of theological training - one of 11 graduate and professional schools at Yale University in New Haven, CT. Each year, some 140 students graduate with one of three degrees offered by the school: Master of Divinity, Master of Arts in Religion, and Master of Sacred Theology.

Back to Top