Over 300 gather for Convocation and Reunions 2011, enjoying new elements

Over 300 alumni and spouses, faculty, staff and others took part in Convocation and Reunions 2011, which featured several dynamic new elements, including reunions for “interest groups” like the Sacramental Winers and the Ultimate Divinity Frisbee team, special lectures by YDS faculty, and reunion gatherings for recently graduated alumni.  Combined with ever-popular fare such as the Beecher, Kavanagh and Pitt lectures, inspirational preaching, and alumni award celebrations, these new elements helped ensure the Oct. 10-12 gathering had something for everyone.

WinersThe Sacramental Winers celebrated 20 years of all-female a cappella at Yale Divinity School with a concert in Marquand Chapel. Fourteen female voices heralded the coming of “a nation of women with wings,” singing “River of Birds.”

That concert—along with an engaging lunchtime panel on music, sacred space, and finding a voice—allowed dozens of former Winers, supporters, and current students to mark an important anniversary for a group that started casually when a few women wanted to sing a talent show but did not want to sing alone.  The anniversary celebration marked the first time ever that a Winers reunion was an official part of Convocation.

Angela Batie Carlin '07 M.Div., the lead organizer of the reunion, reflected on the group’s weekly rehearsals and called them “a space where it felt safe to sit with the things challenging us spiritually, personally, and theologically.” Read more.

A bit of levity invaded Sterling Divinity Quadrangle on the first day of Convocation and Reunions when, in a week filled with discussions of ultimate things, one small group came together around Ultimate Divinity—Yale Divinity School’s own ultimate Frisbee team.

SBlounttill enthused from their unexpected 15-11 triumph over Harvard Divinity School’s Veri-TOSS in last year’s first annual game, Ultimate Divinity held a “Game for the Ages,” where current players joined alumni for a pickup game on the Quad, followed by a few ceremonial pictures and an important presentation. Peter Panagore ’86 M.Div., representing alumni players, presented the current team with new jerseys based on the original design from the ‘80s, when he was part of the group that created the team. Read more.

Major lectures were delivered by Brian Blount (Beecher Lectures, view here),  New Testament scholar and president of Union Presbyterian Seminary; Donald Saliers ’62 B.D., ’67 Ph.D. (the Institute of Sacred Music’s Kavanagh Lecture, view here), former YDS faculty member and the William R. Cannon Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Theology and Worship at the Candler School of Theoloy;  and Tony Jarvis (Berkeley Divinity School’s Pitt Lecture, view here), director of the YDS/BDS Educational Leadership in Ministry Program.

As always, the Alumni Awards dinner was a highlight of the three days of festivity.  Honorees were:

Evalyn Wakusama ’01 M.Div., ’02 S.T.M., who founded a school in Kenya for children who are orphans or who have been affected by the AIDS crisis; (Lux et Veritas Award); Barbara Rossing ’81 M.Div.,  professor of New Testament at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago (Distinction in Theological Education); Otis Moss III ’95 M.Div., pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, the largest congregation in the UCC (Distinction in Congregational Ministry); and Christopher Doucot ’08 M.A.R., founder and leader of St. Martin de Pores Catholic Worker House in Hartford, CT. (William Sloane Coffin ’56 Award for Peace and Justice). Read more

IkelerA special award, the first-ever Dean’s Award for Outstanding Service, was presented to Fred Brooks ’61 M.Div., who since 2008 has served as secretary for the Class of ’61.  In 2007, he chaired the ’61, ’62, ‘63 Cluster Reunion Planning Committee; and over the past year he chaired the 50th Reunion Planning Committee, serving on the Class Gift Committee and presiding over a legion of class volunteers. Brooks served on YDS’s Alumni Board from 2002-2008,

The award citation reads, “You are a Yale Divinity School volunteer extraordinaire who has truly done it all . . . For your tireless spirit and all that you have done for Yale Divinity School, we are delighted to recognize you with the Dean’s Award for Outstanding Service.”

Preachers at the three worship services were Otis Moss III (view sermon); Laura Ahrens ’91 M.Div., bishop suffragan of the Diocese of Connecticut; and Marilyn McCord Adams of he philosophy faculty at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

WaitsIt is not often that a nonagenarian has an opportunity to step down from service on the Yale Divinity School Alumni Board.  But that is what happened when Carol Rose Ikeler ’50 B.D. said her good-byes to fellow members of the Board during Convocation and Reunions 2011, after two full terms on the board.

“It’s been a part of my life.  I mean, I can’t imagine not commuting to New Haven any more,” quipped Ikeler during a meeting of the Board on Oct. 11. A resident of Louisville, KY and long-time Presbyterian minister and ecumenist, KY, Ikeler has frequently stayed in one the octagonal YDS guest cottages during her trips to New Haven.  In honor of her service to the Board, Ikeler was given what is believed to be one of the original cottage keys.

Alumni Board Chair Jerry Henry ’80 M.Div. said he met Ikeler at her first Board meeting in 2005.  Recalling her presence at  subsequent Board meetings, Henry said,  “Every time she helped to bring us back to the reality of the great history of YDS and the people that we’ve had the pleasure of...learning from. Read more

BrooksFor alumni attending Convocation and Reunions 2011, a guided tour of the Sterling Divinity Quadrangle was both a stroll down memory lane and a chance to walk the walk of current YDS students.

About a dozen alumni and spouses, many from the 40th and 50th reunion groups, enjoyed the enlightening introduction of tour guide and Admissions Administrative Assistant Jan Fournier ’06 M.A.R. to the various structural and programmatic changes that have taken place over the years.  The group explored former dormitory spaces turned classrooms, and reminisced about the wonderful aromas that used to waft up from next door at The Culinary Institute of America (now Betts House, home to the Yale Office of International Affairs and the Yale World Fellows Program). Read more

YDS alums Will Mebane ’06 M.Div., Talitha Arnold ’80 M.Div., and Bonita Grubbs ’84 M.A.R led a panel discussion about finding one’s vocation and the struggle to avoid burnout.  Speaking to graduates in the classes of 2005, ‘06, and ’07, all three panelists came to the same conclusion: be flexible.

Mebane serves as canon at Trinity Cathedral in Cleveland, OH; Arnold is senior pastor at the United Church of Santa Fe in New Mexico; and Grubbs is executive director of Christian Community Action in New Haven, CT. Read more

Moss and RossingWhile women have been regular students at Yale Divinity School since the early 1930s, there was a strict cap on enrollment that prohibited more than 10 women from being admitted in any one year through the 1950s.

This set the tone for the Convocation and Reunions 2011 panel conversation introduced by Talitha Arnold ’80 M.Div. a United Church of Christ minister from Santa Fe, NM and chair of the Women’s Reunion Celebration that reached its apex at last year’s Convocation and Reunions.  Panelists spoke candidly about their greatest challenges in ministry, the greatest gifts they have been given in the service of God’s call, and where they have found a home in ministry.  Joining Arnold on the panel were Joan Cooper Burnett ’04 M.Div., Protestant chaplain at Wesleyan University, and Jennie Ott ’06 M.Div., a UCC pastor in Portland, OR. Read more

Another panel presentation featured a group of five current YDS students speaking about their diverse life experiences, academic interests, volunteer activities, future goals, and reasons for coming to YDS. Moderating the panel was Associate Dean for Student Affairs Dale Peterson.  Read more

In a new twist to Convocation and Reunions, lectures by three current faculty members were delivered over the three days.

Willis Jenkins, the Margaret Farley Assistant Professor of Social Ethics at Yale Divinity School, described climate change as a moral and ethical challenge, urging his audience to respond by creating “reform projects” within their faith communities. Read more. View lecture.

The late Brevard S. Childs, who died in 2007, was Old Testament professor at Yale Divinity School from 1958 to 1999 and a lover of books, collecting some 40,000 during the course of his lifetime.

Volf“To talk about his library is to talk about his work and life,” suggested Robert Wilson, Hoober Professor of Religious Studies and Professor of Old Testament, in his lecture on Childs.  Wilson was first a student of Childs and, later, a colleague on the YDS faculty. Read more. View lecture.

Miroslav Volf is known for his work in peace-making theology and in interfaith discussion. The specific subject of Volf’s lecture was his new book, Allah: a Christian Response, which asserts that Christians and Muslims worship the same God. Read more. View lecture.

Each of the reunion groups had luncheon gatherings on the first day of Convocation, and a highlight of those gatherings was the presentation by the Class of ’61, celebrating their 50th reunion, with a class gift of $75,000.  Presenting a ceremonial oversized check to Dean Harold Attridge was Jim Waits ’61 B.D., who co-chaired the class gift committee with Hank Doll ’61 B.D.

Read a reflection on Convocation and Reunions 2011 by Alumni Board Chair Jerry Henry ’80 M.Div.



Posted: 11/06/2011