Appointments, promotions, and other faculty milestones announced

June 14, 2022

Dean Greg Sterling today sent the following announcement to the YDS community.


Congratulations are in order for a number of YDS faculty members. Some are joining us as new appointments, others have received promotions, and one is making the transition to Emeritus status. Let me share details with you.


Jamil Drake is joining us as Assistant Professor of African American Religious History. Prof. Drake will relocate from Florida, where he has taught the past six years as a member of the Florida State University faculty. He specializes in American religious history with a particular interest in 20th century African American religion and politics. He is the author of the new book To Know the Soul of a People: Religion, Race, and the Making of Southern Folk.

Bo kyung Blenda Im comes to YDS and the ISM as Assistant Professor of Sacred Music. Prof. Im has most recently been at Harvard, pursuing her scholarship as the Global Korean Diasporas Postdoctoral Fellow at the university’s Korea Institute. She specializes in popular culture and Christianity in Korea and the Korean diaspora. Her current book project, Transpacific Modernity and the Forgotten Constant: Race, Music, and Faith in Seoul, reconceives transpacific musical modernity through a restorative chronopolitical framework. She will arrive at YDS in August 2023 when she completes her post-doc fellowship.

Kyama Mugambi joins the YDS faculty as Assistant Professor of World Christianity with a focus on Africa. Prof. Mugambi comes to us from Africa International University, where he has been serving as a senior researcher and faculty member at the university’s Centre for World Christianity. He specializes in ecclesial, social, cultural, theological, and epistemological themes within African urban Christianity. His 2020 book, A Spirit of Revitalization: Urban Pentecostalism in Kenya, which traces the history of Pentecostalism in Kenya, has been hailed as a singular contribution to the fields of mission studies, world Christianity, and intercultural theology.

Fall semester also marks the arrival of three new faculty members whose appointments were announced previously. Teresa Morgan will begin her work as the inaugural holder of the McDonald Agape Professorship in New Testament and Early Christianity. Prof. Morgan, whose appointment we announced in 2019, comes to us from the University of Oxford, where she has been serving as Professor of Graeco-Roman History and Nancy Bissell Turpin Fellow and Tutor at Oriel College.

Also arriving for fall are Molly Zahn and Peter Grund, whose appointments were announced in December. These two University of Kansas scholars will serve as Associate Professor of Hebrew Bible and Senior Lecturer and Research Scholar, respectively.

In addition, Todne Thomas, a socio-cultural anthropologist who studies racial, spatial, and familial dynamics of Black Christian communities in the U.S., is coming to YDS as a Presidential Visiting Fellow for the 2022-23 academic year. Dr. Thomas is currently Associate Professor of African American Religious Studies at Harvard Divinity School.

I know you join me in welcoming these scholars to the YDS community. They are certain to add to the luster of our already-stellar faculty while enhancing the depth and breadth of our curricula and our students’ education and formation.


I am happy to announce that two of our faculty members have just earned tenure: John Pittard and Melanie Ross. A specialist in epistemology and philosophy of religion, Prof. Pittard has established himself as a leading thinker on religious disagreement, the subject of his acclaimed 2019 book, Disagreement, Deference, and Religious Commitment. Prof. Ross, a liturgical studies scholar, has distinguished herself with her widely lauded 2021 book, Evangelical Worship: An American Mosaic. Congratulations to John and Melanie!

Two faculty members are now promoted from the rank of Associate Professor to Professor—Tisa Wenger and Vasileios Marinis. A scholar of American religious history, Prof. Wenger has established herself as a leading thinker and public intellectual in the area of American religious freedom. A specialist in Christian Art and Architecture, Prof. Marinis has used his close readings of architecture to cast important new light on subjects such as concepts of the afterlife in Byzantium. We send our heartiest congratulations to Tisa and Vasileios.

In addition, Drew Collins ’10 M.Div. and Matthew Croasmun ’06 M.A.R., both of the Center for Faith & Culture at YDS, are renewed as Associate Research Scholars and Lecturers for three-year terms. Judy Gundry is now promoted from the rank of Associate Professor Adjunct to Professor Adjunct. 


I close with bittersweet news of the retirement of Bryan Spinks, the Bishop F. Percy Goddard Professor of Liturgical Studies and Pastoral Theology. Beloved among YDS, ISM, and Berkeley students since his arrival at Yale in 1997, Prof. Spinks has been a prolific scholar, authoring over a dozen books of his own while coauthoring, editing, or contributing to an equal number of volumes. His range is equally impressive. In his books and numerous journal articles, his work has spanned the earliest Christian liturgies, baptismal and eucharistic liturgies, and English Reformation liturgies as well as contemporary issues around the liturgical reform movement and new liturgical movements. We will publish a retrospective profile of Bryan in the weeks ahead. For now, we say congratulations on a remarkable career.

I send my deepest appreciation to all our faculty for their scholarship, teaching, and support of our students, tasks made more difficult by the pandemic that has plagued us for more than two years now. I look forward to our coming together again in August.

June 14, 2022