About People


Emilie M. Townes, the Andrew F. Mellon Professor of African American Religion and Theology, was one 212 new fellows inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences during ceremonies in Cambridge, MA on Oct. 10.  Townes began serving a dual role at YDS in 2008-09 when she was named associate dean of academic affairs. In 2008 she held a one-year term as president of the American Academy of Religion, the first African American woman to be so honored.



West“The best you can do is try to love your crooked neighbor with your crooked heart,” former Yale Divinity School faculty member Cornel West told a Princeton University crowd while discussing his new memoir Brother West: Living and Loving Out Loud. “This book is in the tradition of a blues people...responding to catastrophe, responding to the calamitous, but refusing to succumb to bigotry, fear, revenge, or hatred.”  Town Topics, Princeton, NJ, Oct. 21, 2009



Haggray“I have double emotions, given my love for the D.C. Baptist Convention. The past eight years have been a wonderful time serving our congregations, taking on new challenges in missions, and working with our congregations. I am thankful to have had the opportunity to serve as Executive Director/Minister of the Convention.” Jeffrey Haggray ’88 M.Div., Executive Director/Minister of the District of Columbia Baptist Convention (DCBC), announcing that he will step down as executive director/minister of the DCBC to become the pastor of First Baptist Church of the City of Washington, D.C. Haggray, who was voted in by the church on Oct. 11, has headed DCBC for more than eight years, having served as its first African American Executive Director/Minister. He becomes the first African American pastor in First Baptist Church’s 208-year history


Angelique Walker-Smith ’83 M.Div., executive director of The Church Federation of Greater Indianapolis, has received national distinction as a U.S. Senior Fulbright Scholar and Specialist. The Fulbright program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government (State Department) and is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the U.S. and the people of other countries.  Walker-Smith has been invited to serve in the Central West African nation of Cameroon. She will be based at the U.S. Embassy in Doula, Cameroon and a faith-based institution of higher learning in Kumba, Cameroon. Her primary role will be to build fraternal relationships of goodwill as a U.S. representative by teaching, speaking, and serving as a facilitator, resource and partner for faith-based community development initiatives reflective of local, national and global interests. She will serve October 17-November 1 of this year, 2009.

Garnett Ersiel Phibbs ’52 B.D., ’54 S.T.M. died in his sleep on Thursday, Oct. 29.  Phibbs was ordained in the Church of the Brethren, and his graduate study was in the field of Christian social ethics.  His professional life was given to controversial ecumenical / interfaith passions of social justice, civil rights, church/state relations, women’s choice, homelessness, gay rights, community relations, poverty, sexual ethics, AIDS, public policy, refugees, migrants, public schools, and prison rehabilitation in Trenton, NJ, Toledo, OH, Los Angeles, CA and Charlotte, NC.


Campbell"Eventually, I hope to focus on prison ministry or army chaplaincy, because it is in those areas where I see people under huge strains, and those are where I want to offer spiritual guidance." Anthony Campbell '95, M.Div '09, a sergeant in the New Haven Police force, on how he plans to combine ministry and criminal justice. Yale Daily News, Oct. 8, 2009





"Are some men so evil they are beyond redemption? Is it possible to take the notion of ‘love the sinner, hate the sin’ too far?” These are just some of the questions that Tim Townsend ’05 M.A.R. poses in his upcoming book, Evil Will: An American Pastor's Battle for Nazi Souls at Nuremberg and the Ancient Alliance Between the Divine and the Damned. A religion reporter at the St. Louis Post Dispatch, Townsend won the 2005 Templeton Religion Reporter of the Year Award, given by the Religion Newswriters Association.  Publishers Weekly, Oct. 19, 209



 "I still very much have an interest in thinking critically about those very deep beliefs and values that we all share." Dave Strohmaier ’95 M.A.R. speaking on behalf of his bid to be reelected to the Missoula City Council.  The Missoulian, Missoula, MT, Oct. 18, 2009.


Harmon"I'm not scary, I'm literary...My name is Edgar Allan Poe." So says Brock Harmon ’04 M.A.R., web coordinator for Yale Divinity School, who is currently performing as the famous author in libraries throughout Connecticut. The productions are sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, and are being put on in celebration of Poe's 200th birthday.  The Record-Journal, Meriden, CT, Oct. 21, 2009.


Will Mebane ’06 M.Div. has been appointed curate at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Cleveland, the cathedral of the Episcopal Diocese of Ohio, which represents over 24,000 Episcopalians from 103 parishes in the northern half of Ohio.  In his application materials, Mebane wrote, "Being a parish priest means teaching that Church is not the sacred buildings and facilities we cherish but is about what we do with our lives out in the world."  In announcing Mebane’s appointment, The Very Rev. Tracey Lind, dean, said Mebane’s statement “spoke to me about our life together at Trinity and our culture of call.”

Westminster John Knox Press and Columbia Theological Seminary have announced the continuation of the partnership that led to Feasting on the Word, the popular lectionary commentary series. Feasting on the Gospels, an eight-volume commentary series, will be published beginning in 2013. Barbara Brown Taylor ’76 M.Div. and David L. Bartlett ’67 B.D., ’72 Ph.D. will return as co-consulting editors.



Aidan Kwame Ahaligah ’10 S.T.M. is the winner of a 2009 Vincent L. Hawkinson Foundation scholarship in recognition of his efforts to promote a more peaceful and just world. Ahaligah, a native of Ghana, earned a master’s degree in theology at Wartburg Theological Seminary in Dubuque, IA in 2009. Before coming to the United States, Ahaligah graduated from seminary in Ghana and served parishes in an area experiencing long-standing tribal and religious-related violence. To promote peace and bring people and faith communities together, he spearheaded numerous efforts, including starting a soccer league and a local music group for youth and relaunching the local council of churches that had been inactive. “My receipt of the Hawkinson scholarship inspires me to pursue my convictions that in the 21st century and beyond more attention needs to be paid to religious pluralism, the vast spectrum between the wealthy and the poor, systems of oppression that give some people privileges and keep others in perpetual poverty, and subtle and overt forms of racism,” Ahaligah said.  “This scholarship goes towards my education at Yale University Divinity School where I intend upon graduation to go back to Africa and commit myself to academia and a gospel-driven advocacy geared towards bringing positive differences in the lives of people in my community and beyond.” Hawkinson Foundation scholarships are aimed at encouraging students who have already demonstrated a commitment to peace and justice to strive for those values in their educational pursuits and in their personal and professional lives.  Since 1988, the Vincent L. Hawkinson Foundation for Peace and Justice in Minneapolis has awarded scholarships to nearly 100 students from or attending schools in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, and North and South Dakota.

 Deborah Noonan '10 M.Div. has been awarded a scholarship to The Emerging Leaders Conference by The Plymouth Center for Progressive Christian Faith.   The conference, entitled “New Voices for a New Moment”, will be held in Minneapolis, MN on November 6-8, 2009.  Noonan and 12 other scholarship recipients will gather with experienced leaders of progressive Christianity (theologians, professors, nonprofit leaders, and pastors) and lay leaders of the Plymouth Congregational Church in Minneapolis. The gathering is designed to be small enough for all participants to know one another with the goal of building relationships and networks that will last well into the future.


Navy chaplain Michael W. Anderson ’10 M.Div. will offer the invocation at the Yale University’s Veterans Day observance on November 11, to be held on Beinecke plaza at 12:15 pm.  The ceremony will include remarks of remembrance from Yale faculty and a number of Yale students.  There are more than 30 student veterans or active duty military at Yale, according to Vice President and Secretary Linda Koch Lorimer, who oversees the ceremony.  Also participating in the University’s Veterans Day ceremony will be emeritus professor and former Trumbull master Harry B. Adams, ’45W B.A. , ’51 B.D. , who served in the U.S. Army Air Force from 1943-45.

Stephen Ogden M.A.R. '09 is one of 16 students to take part in this year's Lilly Graduate Fellows Program, a pilot program funded by the Lilly Endowment. Ogden is currently pursuing a dual doctorate in philosophy and religious studies at Yale.