Kathleen S. Turner ’08 M.Div.
B.F.A. Statue University of New York at Purchase 1976
M.F.A. Sarah Lawrence College 1983
As a really recent YDS 2008 graduate, it is with fond memory that I can speak of my life at YDS and my future plans. I came to YDS as a second-career student, which formulates a third of the YDS population. I left my job as a tenured associate professor in dance from CUNY Hunter College to return to school to follow God’s leading in stretching and confirming the voice of liturgical dance within the academic setting of seminarian education. YDS proved to be an environment comprised of diverse groups of people, creating multiple atmospheres for learning that are exciting, greatly challenging, and given over to tremendous self reflection.
As a native New Yorker living with my husband, Curtis, in a home in Woodhaven, NY, the first challenge was to learn how to live apart from Curtis in an efficiency apartment in New Haven weekdays while attending YDS. With prayer, it was done, as Curtis came up during the week, while on weekends I returned home to Woodhaven. For those students who fit this category, my advice is to get a great phone plan, take classes that meet once a week, and plan your study time well. This kind of life can work.
At Yale, I found that my life changed tremendously through the various associations with the diverse faculty found within YDS and the Institute of Sacred Music, which I was fondly a part of. Through the curriculum, I was encouraged to strengthen and stretch my understanding of Christianity through the comprehension and analysis of a multitude of subjects, in addition to participating in countless student/faculty conferences. These conferences are truly the best moments to find one’s voice in endless conversations on and about God and humanity. I have been challenged within each session to question personal theological and philosophical assumptions, ecumenical awareness, liturgical continuity, and doctrinal foundations, while framing my individual theological voice.
My YDS education was supplemented by the worship experience I participated in as an active member of Marquand Chapel. Personally, I have found Marquand to be a place where both faculty and students experience enriching moments of diverse learning within the worship forum. Marquand presents reciprocal opportunities to share and learn about one’s faith through the ecumenical worship experience that highlights the commonness we share as Christians and yet acknowledges the differences. At Marquand I have been able to stretch the use of liturgical dance within the services. On numerous levels many members of the YDS community have been exposed to the usefulness of liturgical dance in highlighting themes of reconciliation and worship. For this opportunity I have been most grateful. Personally, this is one of the most fruitful and essential highpoints of my total YDS educational experience.My immediate plan is to return to YDS in the fall for one year to pursue an STM degree in preparation for future Ph.D. work. My area of concentration is interdisciplinary in scope. I will analyze the inner rubric of Christian religious education and through that lens look at two theologies that function within the life of the church. The first is reconciliation theology, a healing of a people to one another and to God; the second is liturgical theology, a worship of a people to God through Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit. Then I will present liturgical dance as tool that can be utilized to foster both theologies within the context of the church through worship and education. I am indeed fortunate and truly grateful to be able to return to YDS in the fall to continue to work with some of the finest theologians in the world.