2012 Alumni Award Recipients

Bill Barnes '59 B.D., Distinction in Congregational Ministry

BarnesBill Barnes is a native of Nashville who has been an institution in the city for nearly 40 years. He is a Methodist minister who was a civil rights activist in the 1960’s and is a life-long instigator and servant of social justice. He is the founding pastor of Edgehill United Methodist Church, an award-winning interracial, interclass, inner city, reconciling church.  Still active throughout the community, Barnes is known as an advocate for people who are poor and marginalized and as a prophetic leader in racial justice issues and a champion of the rights of homosexual, bisexual and transgendered people.

Barnes published "To Love a City," which chronicles his ministry at Edgehill Church (proceeds for the sale of the book support the O.N.E/Barnes Scholarship program for low-income youth). He was a founding member of Tying Nashville Together, a consortium of churches, synagogues and other civic groups working to improve social services, schools and housing for poor and working-class Nashvillians.

For him, biblical vocation means immersion in both systematic theology and the Metro Nashville budget. He finds strategies for fair housing in the Book of Amos, a roadmap to moral politics in teachings of Jesus.

John Chane '72 M.Div., Lux et Veritas

ChaneJohn Bryson Chane was consecrated the eighth bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington on June 1, 2002. As bishop he served 91 congregations, 21 church related schools and 45,000 members in the District of Columbia and four counties in Maryland.  Before retirement in November 2011, he served as president and CEO of the Protestant Episcopal Cathedral Foundation, overseeing the operations of Washington National Cathedral and its three schools. He also served as the cathedral’s interim dean from 2003-2005.

Chane was named by Washingtonian Magazine as one of the 150 most prominent leaders in the District of Columbia and one of the 50 most influential leaders in the Anglican Communion by the London Telegraph. His interfaith work has taken him all over the Middle East and to Iran five times in the last seven years. He has had extensive meetings with former Iranian President Khatami, current President Ahmadinejad, and Iranian parliamentarians Ali and Mohammad Javad Larijani and is one of the very few from the West to have ever spent significant time with Iran’s Supreme Leader, Sayed Ali Hosseini Khameni.

Recognized for his work in Human Rights, he was appointed by the U.S. Department of State as a delegate to the OSCE Conference (Organization for Security Cooperation in Europe) that met in the Republic of Kazakhstan. He was tasked with presenting Secretary of State Clinton’s and President Obama’s strong support of LGBT rights and protections within OSCE member countries. Currently Chane serves the Washington National Cathedral as senior advisor on interfaith relations and assists the Brookings Institution of Washington in format development for the annual U.S. Islamic World Forum held in Doha, Qatar.

Marcia Y. Riggs '83 M.Div., Distinction in Theological Education

RiggsMarcia Y. Riggs is the J. Erskine Love Professor of Christian Ethics at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, GA. She is often engaged as a lecturer and preacher and has published dozens of articles on ministerial and sexual ethics, moral education, and public policy.

She is a recognized authority on the black woman’s club movement of the nineteenth century, the subject of her first book, Awake, Arise, and Act!: A Womanist Call for Black Liberation. Her other books are Can I Get A Witness?: Prophetic Religious Voices of African American Women, an Anthology; Plenty Good Room: Black Women versus Male Power in the Black Church; and Ethics that Matters: African, Caribbean and African American Sources  (coedited with James Logan).

Riggs has served on the editorial boards for the Encyclopedia on Women and Religion in North America, the Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics, and the Feasting on the Word Lectionary Commentary Series.  For several years she has also chaired committees in the American Academy of Religion and the Association of Theological Schools.  She is a member of the Society for the Study of Black Religion, Society of Christian Ethics, and the American Academy of Religion.

Riggs has developed an ethical theory and practice called “religious ethical mediation.”  Religious ethical mediation prepares leaders to address religion, conflict, and violence in a transformative manner. Her educational not-for-profit ethics center, Still Waters: A Center for Ethical Formation and Practices, Inc, is offering a certificate program in religious ethical mediation as well as a D.Min. program in theories and practices of conflict transformation in collaboration with New York Theological Seminary.

Toshihiro Takami '60 B.D., William Sloane Coffin '56 Award for Peace and Justice

TakamiToshihiro Takami is the founder of the Asian Rural Institute (ARI) in Japan.  Takami's childhood was spent in Manchuria before his family returned home to Miyazu, a fishing village on the Japan Sea coast.  At the age of 12, he was sent to a Zen monastery in Kyoto to obtain his secondary education.  At 18, just months before the end of WWII, he enlisted in the Japanese Navy and briefly attended radar school.

After the war he bought fish locally, traveled to Kyoto and Osaka to sell it, bought clothing and processed goods there, which he sold back at home to be able to buy more fish the next day.  Three years later, he found work as a cook at the home of an American missionary in Kobe, whose quiet and trusting influence encouraged him to study Christianity and eventually be baptized.  Albert Faurot, his employer, arranged a scholarship for him to attend Doane College, Crete, Nebraska.

Following a year spent with family in Japan after college, he entered Yale Divinity School and after graduation was ordained in the First Congregational Church of Crete, Nebraska.  Takami worked for a year at an urban church before learning of the Rural Leaders' Training Course at Tsurukawa Rural Seminary in western Tokyo.  He followed his heart there, thinking he would study more.  Instead, he discovered he had been given a faculty position.

The November, 1970, cyclone in Bangladesh—the largest in recorded history and which claimed 500,000 lives—wreaked havoc on a country on the verge of independence.  Eighteen months later, Takami led a group of 50 Japanese and American youth volunteers to help famers recovering from the devastation of their fields and homes.  Discerning a dearth of capable and committed local leaders, he determined to establish an institute dedicated to providing them training and skills to increase their capacity to serve their people.  In 1973, he founded the Asian Rural Institute (ARI) in a valley surrounded by the Nasu Mountains of Tochigi Prefecture.

ARI is an international training ground for grassroots rural leaders. Each year ARI conducts a nine-month Rural Leaders Training Program on sustainable agriculture, community development, and leadership. Upon completion, program participants return to their home villages and communities to work side-by-side with their people, pass on their learning, and promote development from within. To date, ARI has trained 1,130 rural leaders from 51 countries throughout Asia, Africa, and the Pacific.


Award nominations are welcome at any time. To submit nominations, please visit http://divinity.yale.edu/nomination-form-distinguished-alumni-awards