Four YDS graduates honored with alumni awards

By Frank Brown
Assistant Director, Publications


Winnowed from a strong field of international candidates, four Yale Divinity School graduates are recipients of the School’s 2010 Distinguished Alumni Awards. The awardees are pastors, authors, activists and leaders spanning four decades of YDS education.

“It was difficult [to choose] only because there are so many accomplished and distinguished YDS alums out there,” said Ki Joo “KC” Choi ’98 M.Div., head of the YDS alumni committee that selected the honorees and an assistant professor of theological ethics in the Department of Religious Studies at Seton Hall University.

 “The write-ups of the nominations we receive are impressive. There are only four awards offered every year at Convocation, so narrowing the field is challenging. Truth be told, most if not all of the nominees deserve to be recognized.”

The awards will be presented by Harold Attridge, the Reverend Henry L. Slack Dean of YDS, during a banquet at the annual YDS Convocation & Reunions, Oct. 11-14. This year’s gathering will feature a special celebration honoring the presence of women at YDS on the occasion of an important milestone—the 75th anniversary of the first degrees awarded to women at YDS.  Fittingly, three of the four recipients of the 2010 Distinguished Alumni Awards are women. Lillian F. Daniel ’93 M.Div. garnered the Distinction in Congregational Ministry award while the School is honoring Barbara K. Lundblad ’79 M.Div with the Distinction in Theological Education award. The William Sloane Coffin '56 Award for Peace and Justice is going to Nancy Jo Kemper ’67 B.D.

Selected for the fourth award, Lux et Veritas, is Nai-Wang Kwok ’66 B.D. of Hong Kong, a selection that Choi said reminds him that “YDS alums work around the world, not just in the U.S.”

Kemper, who recently retired as executive director of the Kentucky Council of Churches, is a minister in both the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ. A longtime social justice activist and lobbyist in the Bluegrass State, Kemper counted William Sloane Coffin Jr., after whom the Coffin award is named, as her friend and colleague. Coffin served as Yale University chaplain from 1958 to 1975.

Lundblad, the Joe R. Engle Professor of Preaching at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, is receiving the Distinction in Theological Education Award but has spent much of her career in parish and campus ministry as an Evangelical Lutheran Church in America minister.  In addition, she is president of the Academy of Homiletics and is on the board of Brooklyn’s Lutheran Medical Center. Lundblad is the author of two books, Transforming the Stone:  Preaching through Resistance to Change and Making Time:  Preaching Biblical Stories in Present Tense.

Daniel has also written two books, This Odd and Wondrous Calling: the Public and Private Lives of Two Ministers and Tell It Like It Is: Reclaiming the Practice of Testimony, while serving as a United Church of Christ senior minister, currently at the First Congregational Church in Glen Ellyn, IL. In nearby Chicago on WTTW, Daniel co-hosts a weekly Sunday television show called “30 Good Minutes” that highlights religious leaders and thinkers.

The School’s Lux et Veritas alumni award is given each year to someone who has demonstrated excellence and distinction in applying the compassion of Christ in their work. In 2010, it goes to Nai-Wang Kwok ’66 B.D., past head of the Hong Kong Christian Council and the founder and director of the Hong Kong Christian Institute, a center for education and advocacy on social issues. Kwok, a prolific author, is a minister of the Hong Kong Council of the Church of Christ in China

“What impresses me in particular is the variety of work alums are doing out there, from small to large parishes, from traditional to very non-traditional ministries,” said Choi.  “A lot of alums are doing extraordinary work not only in the church but in the larger society, and so many of them do not receive recognition for their work.

For those wishing to attend the Alumni Awards banquet and 2010 Convocation & Reunions, registration will be available online by the end of May. According to Director of Alumni Relations Carmen Germino ’07 M.Div., the banquet is often a high point of the gathering. “Attendees really seem to enjoy the annual Alumni Awards luncheon,” she said. “It’s a chance to learn about and celebrate some of our most extraordinary peers as well as a fun social occasion.”

Convocation and Reunions 2010