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Yale Divinity School has presence at World Council of Churches 9th Assembly

Angelique Walker-Smith '83 M.Div., Yale Divinity School alumni who are communion heads, and several YDS student-faculty representatives were among the participants at the World Council of Churches' 9th Assembly Feb. 14-24 in Porto Alegre, Brazil.

YDS Members at WCCWalker-Smith, immediate past president of the YDS Alumni Board, moderated a panel at an Assembly plenary session entitled “God, in your grace, transform the world.” At home in Indianapolis, Walker-Smith hosts a morning talk show called Faces of Faith on the local ABC affiliate, and the plenary presentation in Porto Alegre took the form of a “show.” A diverse group of six “guests” shared their stories of transformation and grace to the plenary and a worldwide audience connected to the plenary via computer over the Internet.

Two Yale Divinity School alumni and communion heads were among religious leaders who presented a statement from the U.S. Conference of the WCC, representing 34 churches, claiming that the U.S.-led war in Iraq was a “mistake” and apologizing for failing to raise a prophetic voice in protest. Presenting the Jan. 19 statement were John Thomas '75 M.Div., general minister and president of the United Church of Christ; and Sharon Watkins '84 M.Div., general minister and president of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

Watkins said, "This letter is not an attempt to undermine American troops. They are brave men and women who are our sons and daughters and our neighbours. But here we gather with Christians around the world, and meet the parents of other sons and daughters."

Brandon Johnson '08 M. DivAnd Thomas warned, "An emerging theme in conversation with our partners around the world is that the US is being perceived as a dangerous nation... We come to you seeking to be partners in the search for unity and justice."

Also attending the Assembly were Letty Russell, professor emerita of theology; Siobhán Garrigan, assistant professor of liturgical studies and assistant dean of the chapel; Patrick Evans, senior lecturer in the practice of sacred music; and Brandon Johnson '08 M.Div.

Russell attended as a resources person and panelist for ecumenical conversations on “Becoming Community of Women and Men: Learning from Women's Ways of Being Church.” Garrigan and Evans were participants in the Mutirão—a series of workshops, forums, and worship experiences running in tandem with the WCC delegates meetings. Johnson attended as one of two North American representatives on the Executive Committee of the World Student Christian Federation.

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