Finishing touches put on plans for Women’s Reunion

Editor’s Note:  Following is a story about the special women’s celebration being held during Convocation and Reunions, Oct. 11-14—Honoring the Past, Challenging the Future: Celebrating Eight Decades of Women at Yale Divinity School.  It was written by Talitha Arnold ’80 M.Div., Women's Reunion Chair.  The celebration Planning Committee is comprised of all women of the Alumni BoardJoan Cooper Burnett ’04 M.Div.; Cheryl Cornish ’83 M.Div.; Mary Ellen O’Driscoll ’02 M.Div., Chair, Alumni Board; Anne Hallisey ’75 M.Div.; Carol Rose Ikeler ’50 B.D.; Myra McNeill ‘08 M.Div.; Jennie Ott ’06 M.Div.; and Allie Perry ’80 M.Div.

What was the journey that brought you to YDS as a student? What has been your journey since then? What challenges have you faced? Where have you found “grace in the wilderness?”

These and other questions shape the Women’s Reunion during Convocation this year. Part of the yearlong celebration, “Honoring the Past, Challenging the Future: Eight Decades of Women at YDS,” the Women’s Reunion offers an opportunity to re-connect with classmates, faculty and colleagues. It’s also a time to reflect on the challenges and opportunities faced by women over the decades at YDS and in the varieties of ministries that followed.

The Reunion opens with “Home from the Journey” on Monday afternoon at 2:00. As part of his welcome, Dean Harry Attridge will offer the PowerPoint “YDS Women by the Numbers.” Prof. Emerita Margaret Farley will deliver the keynote presentation, followed by a panel discussion with former Dean of Students Joan Forsberg ’53 B.D. and current Associate Dean of Academic Affairs Emilie Townes.

“YDS Women: Generations of Faith and Witness” is the theme of the Tuesday morning breakfast panel, moderated by Myra McNeill ’08 M.Div. and Jennie Ott ’06 M.Div. with women from post-World War II decades to post-9/11, sharing the trails they blazed and the doors that still need to be opened.

“We’ve Come this Far by Faith: Honoring the Past,” Tuesday Chapel Worship, will include faith reflections offered by Dodie Younger ’50 B.D. and Nancy Jo Kemper ’67 B.D. In addition, a montage of remembrances from alums of the 1940’s and 50’s (when the school limited the number of women admitted) will speak of the faith that called them to YDS and sustained them in the journeys that followed.

Those pioneering generations will also be recognized at the Tuesday Alumni Awards Lunch.  “Bread for the Journey,” the Tuesday Shalom Meal, is in the spirit of the late Letty Russell who introduced these “celebrations of liberation” to YDS in the 1970’s.  Afterward is the ISM production, “And Her Lamp Does Not Go Out,” with MC Barbara Lundblad ’79 M.Div., at United Church on the Green.

“What’s Faith Got to Do With It?” is the title of the sermon Marcia Riggs ’83 will deliver Wednesday morning during Chapel Service, “Challenging the Future.” The service will end with a “Commissioning for the Next Eight Decades” offered by the women of the Alumni Board.

The Wednesday Lunch Groups, “The Journey is Home,” include women of color, parish Ministers, Roman Catholic women, chaplains, and social advocacy. Other groups will focus on issues such as “Women and Men in Partnership in Ministry,” “Balancing Work and Life,” and  “Ministry and the ADA.”

Great music from across the generations will be an integral part of all the Women’s Reunion events. There will also be a “Story Corps”-like project to record women’s experiences and other ways of both remembering and giving thanks for all that YDS has given us. In addition, the bookstore will have a special display of books by YDS women alums.

“Home from the Journey,” stories of the Journey, and Bread for the Journey—that’s all part of the Women’s Reunion this fall. We hope to see you there as we “Honor the Past and Challenge the Future” in a celebration of Eight Decades of Women at YDS.