300 alumni, spouses, and friends gather at Convocation & Reunions 2010

Lectures by a leading systematic theologian from Notre Dame and an Irish New Testament expert on the historical Jesus and early Christianity were top attractions at this year’s Oct. 11-14 Convocation and Reunions—and Convocation worship services focused on women in the church, in keeping with this year’s special emphasis on eight decades of women at Yale Divinity School. (Read more)

Four alumni were honored with distinguished alumni awards, and an honorary degree was granted by Berkeley Divinity School to Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church.

Meanwhile, the Class of 1960 celebrated their 50th reunion and, the Class of 1985, their 25th.  Cluster reunion gatherings were held for the classes of 1964-66, 1979-81, and 1999-2001.

HilkertTwo new endowments were announced, and new Alumni Board officers and members were elected at the Board’s Annual Meeting.

Delivering the Beecher Lectures was Mary Catherine Hilkert of Notre Dame, a specialist in contemporary systematic theology and author of Naming Grace: Preaching and the Sacramental Imagination

In her lectures, Hilkert grappled with the role of the Holy Spirit as the empowerment of all genuine preaching and hearing of the Gospel. She analyzed the role of the Spirit not only in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus and the subsequent preaching of the Church, but also in human life and throughout creation, with particular attention to the mystery of God's saving power in the face of suffering, death, and tragedy.

The Shafer Lecturer was Sean Freyne, professor emeritus at Trinity College, Dublin, an expert in Galilee in the Hellenistic and Roman periods, the historical Jesus, the gospels, and aspects of early Jewish and early Christian history.

The issue of Jesus’ relationship with Galilee has been a topic of debate for over a century and a half, increasingly so in recent years.  In light of the special significance of the relationship of Jesus to Galilee prompted by intense archeological investigation and renewed debate about the Historical Jesus, Freyne presented a summary of the relevant new archaeological data from Galilee, suggested ways in which the person and mission of Jesus may be interpreted in the light of this evidence, and discussed its relevance to the search for an adequate contemporary Christology.

Other major lectures delivered during the week include the Cheney Lecture sponsored by Berkeley Divinity School and delivered by John H. Finley IV of the Epiphany School (read more), and the Institute of Sacred Music’s Kavanagh Lecture by former ISM Director Margot Fassler (read more).

FreyneTwo new endowed funds were announced during Convocation and Reunions 2010—“The 8 Decades of Women Endowment Fund,” and “The Class of 1985 Endowed Scholarship Fund.”  This year’s Convocation & Reunions was the occasion for both the 25th reunion of the Class of 1985 and the special celebration of women at YDS. (Read more)

At the annual Alumni Awards Luncheon, four YDS graduates were honored with distinguished alumni awards.  Honorees included Lillian F. Daniel ’93 M.Div., Distinction in Congregational Ministry; Barbara K. Lundblad ’79 M.Div., Distinction in Theological Education; Nancy Jo Kemper ’67 B.D., William Sloane Coffin ’56 Award for Peace and Justice; and Nai-Wang Kwok ’66 B.D., Lux et Veritas. (Read more)

Reunion classes had various individual gatherings during the course of Convocation and Reunions, including dinners, special worship services, and informal sessions to simply talk and catch up with one another.

Before any of the other class gatherings, the Class of 1985 held a worship service in Marquand Chapel on the first day of Convocation to observe “the faces that were and the faces that are.”  Twenty-five years removed from Marquand as a place of daily worship in their lives, members of the 25th reunion class gathered to recall members of their YDS community who are now deceased, but whose legacy as authentic, faithful people lives on. (Read more)

At the cluster reunion of 1964, 1965, 1966 gathering, classmates of Nai Wang Kwok, this year’s Lux et Veritas Award recipient, heard him speak about his work building churches in Hong Kong and the lessons he has learned over the course of his ministry.

KwokKwok characterized his work as “moving beyond the limits,” which he said has been the goal of his nearly 45-year ministry since graduating from YDS in 1966, which has included pastoring a parish of the Church of Christ in China, Hong Kong Council, in an slum in Hong Kong, and later leading the Hong Kong Christian Council.  He emphasized the continuing need for social justice reform in Hong Kong and on mainland China.  Although community and government partners have leant financial support and resources to the poor, he said, there are questions that need to be addressed about why there are so many poor in the first place.   He founded and also directed the Hong Kong Christian Institute, which focuses on addressing social justice advocacy needs in Hong Kong.

Kwok is an affiliate faculty member of the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Hong Kong, What seminarians need, he suggested, is “a compassionate heart and an analytic mind.”

Members of the 1979, 1980, 1981 cluster began gathering on the first day of Convocation in a session facilitated by Martin Copenhaver and Gigi Mooney.  As the circle grew steadily—and each new arrival was greeted with a little "aaahhh!" of recognition—stories accumulated. Retired professors John Cook and Rowan Greer joined the group for lunch.

Dinner in the former Refectory on Monday night brought 30 classmates from ‘79, ’80, and ‘81 together for a reflective discussion led by Rick Spalding. Over dessert many more stories were recounted, and slides of volleyball matches on the Quad thirty years ago were shared by Pete Strimer and Ruth Drews. The group concluded the evening by singing a rousing chorus of "Anything Goes...Just so the Church Grows!" from the 1979 Taylor House Lectures. Realizing that this special group would carry on conversations well into the late evening, Yale Security finally threw in the towel and said: "You're having too much fun to break this up.  Just turn the lights out when you leave!"

At the Annual General Meeting of Alumni held during Convocation and Reunions, four new board members were elected, as well as a new slate of officers.  Heading the Board in 2010-11 as the new president is Jerry Henry ’80 M.Div., a partner of Alexander Haas Martin & Partners, a philanthropic strategy and fundraising consulting firm headquartered in Atlanta. (Read more)

At the Berkeley Divinity School Evensong on the third day of Convocation, Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori was awarded an honorary degree.  Her citation reads, in part, “Justice and Reconciliation have become companion words for you on your journey. You have said, ‘The sacramental matter of reconciled relationship is what we call justice.’ You have sought to bring restorative justice in your preaching, leadership and service. Your vision of complementarity (how each complements the other) and expansiveness (how each adds to the understanding the other can offer)has given our church a strong voice in helping to build bridges between science and religion as well as between different parts of the Anglican Communion.”  (Read more)

View a gallery of photos from Convocation 2010