Donald Beisswenger ’56 B.D. has published the book Locked Up: Letters and Papers of a Prisoner of Conscience (Upper Room Books, 2008). It is a memoir of the time he spent in prison for an act of civil disobedience during a prayer vigil at the School of the Americas, where the United States trains military units of Latin American countries. A Presbyterian pastor, Beisswenger was a professor at Vanderbilt University Divinity School for almost 30 years and since 1996 has been working with the poor and oppressed in Nashville and in Central and South America.
"It's sort of getting students to see their academic life and their extracurricular life are more seamless than at first they might have thought. I think Rebecca is a very good change agent. She knows how to introduce ideas, get people to gather around those ideas, refine them and make them their own." Chris Clifford, president of Colgate's University’s board of trustees, Syracuse.com, April 2, 2009, in the article “Departing Colgate President Rebecca Chopp brought change to college, village of Hamilton,” about former YDS Dean Rebecca Chopp’s decision to leave Colgate to become the next president of Swarthmore College.
Browne Barr ’42 B.D., professor of homiletics at Yale Divinity School from1953-60 and pastor of the First Congregational Church of Berkeley (CA) from 1960-1977, died of pneumonia on Sunday, February 1, 2009. He was a powerful preacher and teacher and helped the congregation navigate the difficult times during the 1960s when so much was happening on the UC Berkeley campus. When he retired as dean of the faculty at San Francisco Theological Seminary in 1983, the church voted to give him the status of Minister Emeritus. He wrote several books, including East Bay and Eden, High Flying Geese, and Never Too Late to Be Loved: How One Couple Under Stress Discovered Joy and Intimacy. A memorial service was held on Sunday, March 8 at First Congregational Church of Berkeley.
“My impression of the meeting was one of extraordinary openness for expanding the mission of the chaplains to include peacemaking within military processes, but also bringing more perspectives, including ethical perspectives, moral perspectives, to all of the role of the military,” Miroslav Volf, director of the Yale Center for Faith and Culture, New Haven (CT) Register, April 16, 2009, in the article “New roles emerging for military chaplains,” based on Volf’s participation earlier this year at the Military Chief of Chaplains Conference in Cape Town, South Africa.
“For a first-time novelist, Todd Johnson has pulled off a poignant, realistic, funny tale that is at times a tear-jerker. The Sweet By and By has a title that reeks of sweet Southern tea on a front porch on an August afternoon, but the novel is anything but cliché.” April 12, 2009, a review, entitled “Humanity Told Through the Stories of Five Women,” in The Herald-Sun (Durham, NC), of a novel by Todd Johnson ’91 M.A.R.
Nathan Blake ’05 M.A.R., ’05 J.D. has been appointed Special Assistant to the Under Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, according to an April 15, 2009 announcement by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. Blake practiced law in Des Moines, Iowa, before working for the Obama campaign as a field organizer and researcher.
Patricia S. "Pat" Martin ’58 M.R.E., a longtime crusader for tax and election reform and founder of Missourians for Tax Justice, died of lung cancer on April 9 at her home in Kirkwood. She was 76. She was the wife of Ben C. Martin ’58 B.D. From the obituary in the St. Lois Post-Dispatch, April 12, 2009.
William Ralph McSwegin ’72 M.Div., died at home in Dallas, PA., on Saturday, April 18, after a long battle with mesothelioma. He served Presbyterian Church U.S.A. congregations in Reidsville, NC, and Barboursville, WV, and was executive presbyter of the Presbytery of Lackawanna (PA) from 1999-2006. From the obituary in The Review (East Liverpool, OH), April 21, 2009.