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Vernice Randall ’11 M.Div.
My true call to ministry came at midlife, when I was knee deep in professional and other types of responsibilities. It was not dramatic at all like the calls of Paul or Samuel; rather, it started as ordinarily as finding enjoyment and fulfillment in my work in my home church as the youth director and Sunday School educator. The call was compelling and daunting and would make some serious demands on me. The feelings were forceful enough for me to explore the possibility of going to seminary, and in 2008, following 20 years of employment in Corporate America, I walked away from a lucrative career and entered Yale Divinity School. My studies at YDS exposed me to fields of learning far beyond the limited interests I entered with and significantly improved my ability to understand and relate to people and their needs and to connect the Christian faith to everyday life. It is here that I developed a passion for preaching and pastoral care as I learned to interweave homiletics as theological reflection and spiritual practice. In the fall of 2011, I began further graduate studies at Princeton Theological Seminary, where I hope to further examine the two-way street that exists at the intersection of preaching and pastoral care. I am grateful to have had this opportunity for an education at YDS, the school with a “heartbeat.”
Alex Peterson ’12 M.Div.
“Faith and Intellect.” That’s the slogan of Yale Divinity School, and one that has meant a great deal to me over the past three years. I came to YDS after three years in the Peace Corps in Ghana. Ghana taught me many life lessons, not the least of which was the power people have when claiming to act in the name of the Divine. Working at a hospital, with local farming groups, HIV/AIDS patients and programs, and a cultural/religious reconciliation group opened my eyes to myriad ways of loving one’s self, family, and neighbor. I saw how the power of faith could be used at once to bring community and support, but also fracturing and pain—and this is what I came to YDS to try and understand. Here, I’ve been encouraged in my own faith and academic journey, even as the two have crossed, merged, diverged, and merged again. I am preparing to leave YDS, confident that the past three years have shaped me and my understanding of my place in the global community. I would not have had the opportunity to struggle with my self and my world without your support. You’ve given me, and others, a kind and generous gift. For the chance to come to YDS, for the chance to grow at YDS, and for the paths forward from YDS as a result, thank you.
Joan Javier ’12 M.Div.
In the fall of 2008, I began exploring the possibility of entering divinity school because I was seeking a vocational path that would allow me to combine my passion for social justice organizing with a strong foundation in my faith. I knew I wanted to be in an intellectually engaging environment, and YDS’s focus on developing both our heads and our hearts drew me in. When I began my studies at YDS, I envisioned a number of ways of living out my ministerial vocation, including work in an educational setting or in a faith-based nonprofit. I did not envision ordained ministry at that time, but after completing a unit of clinical pastoral education in the summer of 2010 that changed. I am now in the midst of preparation for ordination in the Unitarian Universalist church. Upon graduating from YDS, I plan to continue my preparation for UUA ministerial fellowship by interning at a UU church near Princeton, NJ, where my husband will be in graduate school, and also possibly completing a hospital chaplaincy residency program. We will likely settle in the Northeast where I hope to lead a congregation dedicated to sustaining a spiritual life that engages in, and inspires, acts of justice and compassion in its community. As I look forward to graduation, I am grateful for the investment that has been made in my education and professional preparation.
Craig A. Ford, Jr. ’12 M.A.R.
“God has a plan”—it’s a phrase that I’ve heard so often that I think somewhere in the last few years I’ve managed to convince myself that someone somewhere has had the phrase copyrighted. The events of my life have largely taken place against the backdrop of this elusive phrase. Does God have a good plan? A bad plan? A health plan? A mandatory refectory plan? Who knows? I left the University of Notre Dame in May 2010 with this constellation of emotions, assured that if God was on board with me, we would storm through this Ethics concentration and blast full steam ahead towards a Ph.D. program. Yet now I find myself interviewing in order to enter Moreau Seminary so that I can become a Holy Cross priest. I imagined myself going to Yale Divinity School; I never imagined that I would seriously seek to become a candidate for Holy Orders; I suspect that God, and His “plan,” have something to do with both, and I’m more excited for the future than ever before. So, if people say that “God has a plan,” do I have any clear idea of what they’re talking about? Probably not any clear idea. What I do know, however, is that God has got some awesome people on the ground—people like you—who provide people like me the opportunity to figure it out.