About People

As the Episcopal Church continues its debate over homosexual clergy and marriage, YDS continues to play a significant role. Most recently, Willis Jenkins, the Margaret Farlery Assistant Professor of Social Ethics, was one of nine co-authors of "Same-Sex Relationships in the Life of the Church," a 95-page report commissioned by the Theology Committee of the House of Bishops. "Same-sex couples need the sanctification that marriage brings," the report reads in part, "and the church needs the marital virtues that same-sex couples are already receiving." 
The report is available as a PDF here .

Not long after President Obama signed an historic arms treaty with Russia last month, Religion and Ethics Newsweekly columnist David E. Anderson sized up the significance of the occasion -- and turned to a recent issue of the YDS Journal Reflections for help. Quoting David Cortwright's essay on "Transcending Ambivalence: A History of Enjoying the Bomb" in the Spring 2009 edition on faith and the future of nuclear weapons, Anderson chronicled the American churches ambivalence towards nuclear weapons. Further, he also referenced the work of YDS alum Tyler Wigg-Stevenson, '04 M.Div., who recently founded the Two Futures Project, a coalition of American churches that seeks the eradication of nuclear weapons. 

Harry W. Eberts, Jr. ’51 B.D. and Paul R. Eberts ’56 B.D., have published a book with YBK Publishers, The Early Jesus Movement and Its Parties: A New Way to Look at the New Testament (New York: YBK Publishers, 2009, ca. 130 p. including bibliography).  The book is available through Amazon.com.  They say, “The vast majority of commentators on the New Testament (see J.D. Crossan, 1998) are concerned with the content of what was said in the New Testament and how it all fits together.  Our approach is quite different – we first ask, Who was writing what?  Then we ask, What were "they" saying, how did one set of writings differ from what others were saying, and why were they saying these things? In Acts (9:26 ff., among others) four distinguishable parties (groups) are mentioned.  It is difficult to read the paragraph in 9:26 ff. in any other way.  They are Disciples (led by Peter), Apostles (led by Paul), Hellenists (led by Stephen), and Brethren (led by James, "the brother of Jesus").  Our book examines NT documents to show the differences among these parties between about 30 and 70 CE as these four parties contended with one another in making converts to the Jesus Movement.”


St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Woodbury, CT will soon boast a new pastor. In April the Rev. Donna Downs, '87 M.Div., will be installed as its next rector -- and the congregation couldn't be more thrilled. "She stood out to many of us from the very beginning," said Diane Heavens, a member of the search committee. "She has opened us up to the Holy Spirit in new ways with new liturgy."

The Rev. Phillip Allen '62 M.Div., Berkeley Divinity School, recently passed away in Minneapolis, MN, two days after his 75th birthday. Ordained in the Episcopal Church, Allen was a devoted advocate for Native Americans. "I was able to open a lot of doors that had been closed and increase support of Indian work," he said in a recent interview. "As a result of that, at least in the Episcopal Church, there are more Indian people serving on church committees locally and nationally. That's the most gratifying part, that those doors were opened."

Media everywhere are catching the Web 2.0 buzz, and the New Haven Register is no exception. Its new Blog New Haven section even features the writing of Tom Ficklin '75 M.Div., president of Ficklin Media Group, LLC. According to Ficklin, his blog will serve as "an equal opportunity media source, enabling every valued visitor to participate and share in the complex and volatile world which affects us all."

If Glenn Beck wants to condemn "social justice" as a synonym for Communism, he better be prepared for a fight from many YDS alums, including the Rev. Clinton Miller '94 M.Div. Currently the pastor of Brown Memorial Baptist Church in Brooklyn, Miller views his ministry and his advocacy as interconnected. "I wanted to be a lawyer once," he confessed, "but I realized my desire for social justice and equality would be better served here, through worship."

Sustainability is a hot topic on campuses all across the country, and YDS's own Willis Jenkins, the Margaret Farlery Assistant Professor of Social Ethics, is helping to frame the conversation. Recently the University of Montana invited Jenkins to deliver a lecture on "Sustainability Ethics: Religion, Science, and Cultural Change." Jenkins challenged his audience to consider the ultimate purpose of sustainable initiatives. "There are lots of ways to use land," he said, "but we must justify them to the children who will live there after us."



The Rev. Leonard R. Klein '67 B.A., '70 B.D., who became an ordained Catholic priest in 2006, was recently appointed director of pro-life activities in the diocese of Wilmington, DE. Prior to his conversion to Catholicism in 2003, Klein served as an ordained Lutheran pastor in New York and Pennsylvania for over 30 years.


"The hardest thing for more orthodox students is not so much practicing their faith," writes Rev. Liza Neal '04 M.Div., director of spiritual life at Hampshire College, "but dealing with others’ prejudices — traditional religious practice is sometimes assumed to be outdated at best and, at worst, oppressive and wrong." A graduate of Hampshire College herself, Neal writes about the bourgeoning role of religion on the Hampshire campus in a recent issue of Insider Higher Education. 


Emilie Townes, the Andew W. Mellon Professor of African American Religion and Theology, will be awarded an honorary doctor of humane letters degree during 2010 commencement ceremonies at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, IL.  Townes served as an adjunct professor and as a member of the staff at Garrett in the 1980s.

Frank L. Cooley ’45 B.D., a Presbyterian mission worker in Indonesia for 33 years from 1952-1985, died March 3 in Rabun County, GA.  Cooley wrote many books on Indonesian history and was the foremost Protestant historian of Christianity in that country. His Ph.D. dissertation from Yale University — Between Altar and Throne — is on the history of Christianity in the Moluccan Islands and the Indonesian translation of the work is still used as a primary text in Indonesia.  Cooley is survived his wife, Carolyn Martin, and three adult children.