Bethany Davidson '10 M.Div.
B.A. Willamette University 2005
My experience at Yale Divinity School has been transformative. I matriculated in 2006 as a joint degree student, concurrently pursuing a Master of Divinity from YDS and a Master of Social Work in Community Organizing from the University of Connecticut School of Social Work. It was over the course of this joint program that I worked to integrate my two passions: the Gospel of Jesus Christ and witnessing for social justice.
I am a cradle Episcopalian; my father is an Episcopal priest and my late grandfather was an Episcopal bishop. My grandfather, the Rt. Rev. William Davidson, graduated from Berkeley Divinity School in 1946 and I was proud to also pursue the Diploma in Anglican Studies through Berkeley Divinity School. Berkeley was very supportive of my call to be ordained as a vocational deacon, an order not typically seminary trained. It was through the formation and community life I experienced at Berkeley that my call to the diaconate was furthered strengthened and confirmed.
My joint degree program allowed me to explore the community of New Haven in unique and surprising ways. Through YDS I interned at Christ Church, Broadway in New Haven and was able to participate in the liturgical, pastoral, and mission life of the parish community. Berkeley helped me to develop a mentoring relationship with the deacon at Christ Church that was essential in my vocational development. Through UCONN I interned at AIDS Project New Haven; I worked closely with the director of client services to expand client services and planned an educational summit with various community stakeholders to address the (lack) of HIV/AIDS education in New Haven churches. I also worked on an international community-based participatory research project through the Community Alliance for Research and Engagement (CARE), the community outreach branch of the Yale Center for Clinical Investigation. Through this internship placement I helped explore the issue of food availability and developed asset maps for New Haven neighborhoods.
Through these various experiences I was able to not only study New Haven but also experience it. I worked closely with many passionate social workers, pastors, organizers, community members and youth of the community. I learned that many people care deeply about their community and are willing to work for the things they care about. I also learned the central voice faith leaders have in communities and the important need to have churches and people of faith engaged in the life of their immediate communities.
YDS is full of people who share my passion for connecting faith and action; professors and students engaging the world and the issues found in the world from a faith perceptive. Together, my YDS colleagues and I thoughtfully and theologically engaged in conversation, study and action both in the classroom and outside the walls of YDS. Following graduation I will move to Alexandria, VA and marry Rev. Nicholas Myers ’09 M.Div. In the months that follow I will begin a position at a community-based mental health agency in Washington, D.C., providing case-management for women who are survivors of trauma. And I look forward to my ordination to the diaconate in the fall of 2010.