Convocation & Reunions draws 400+ to the Quad

A robust turnout of more than 400 alumni and friends; illuminating talks and lectures by Barbara Brown Taylor, Charles Campbell, and others; inspiring alumni award winners—these and much more were among the highlights of Convocation & Reunions 2018, held at YDS October 17-19.

“It was a true celebration of YDS as we welcomed back alumni and friends from across the country and as far away the Netherlands,” said Gail Briggs, Director of Alumni Relations. “The record turnout of recent grads was especially encouraging and something we will build on for the future.”

Alumni award recipients

Those packing into the Old Common Room for the alumni awards dinner on October 18 were regaled by unforgettable acceptance remarks by the five award recipients. The honorees were:

Jimmy Canton ’93 M.A.R.—Lux et Veritas
Ted Halsted ’56 M.Div.—Dean’s Award for Outstanding Service
Molly Baskette ’96 M.Div.—Distinction in Congregational Ministry
Alison Cunningham ’84 M.Div.—William Sloane Coffin ’56 Award for Peace and Justice
Stephen G. Ray, Jr. ’93 M.Div., ’00 Ph.D.—Distinction in Theological Education

Watch the video of the awards presentation

Lectures and talks

One of the world’s most distinguished lecture series on preaching, the Lyman Beecher Lectureship was founded in 1871 by a gift from Henry W. Sage of Brooklyn, N.Y., to sponsor an annual series of lectures on a topic appropriate to the work of the ministry. Charles Campbell ’82 S.T.M., Professor of Homiletics at Duke Divinity School, continued the grand tradition with his three-part lecture on “The Scandal of the Gospel: Preaching and the Grotesque.”

Watch videos the Charles Campbell’s Beecher Lectures.

One of the Divinity School’s most known and acclaimed alumnae, Barbara Brown Taylor ’76 M.Div. returned to Marquand Chapel to give a well-attended talk that highlighted her career in ministry and academia.

Watch the video of “How Teaching Religion 101 Saved My Ministry.”

The Loring Sabin Ensign Lectureship in Contemporary Interpretation of Religious Issues was established at YDS in 1994 by fellow church members and friends of Loring S. Ensign ‘51 M.Div. for his 25 years of service as pastor of the Southport Congregational Church.

Given the subject of the season’s news coverage, the topic and lecturer could not have been more appropriate: A lawyer and former official in the Barack Obama administration, Melissa Rogers of the Brookings Institution spoke on “Trading Kennedy for Kavanaugh: What’s at Stake for Religious Freedom.

Watch the video of Melissa Rogers’ Ensign Lecture.

Alumni/ae were also given the opportunity to relive their classroom experiences and hear lectures by two of the Divinity School’s faculty members. Harold Attridge, Sterling Professor of Divinity, spoke on “The Function of the Unknown in The Gospel of John,” and Joel Baden, Professor of Hebrew Bible, gave a lecture titled “Bible Nation: The United States of Hobby Lobby on the antiquities on display at the new Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C.”

“It was delightful to hear Professor Attridge revel in the power of what is intentionally left in the shadows in the Gospel of John,” said Rick Spalding ’81 M.Div., who completed his two years as President of the Alumni Board. “Probably most alumni associate YDS with revelatory New Testament lectures by the likes of Dahl, Minear, Malherbe, Johnson, Holliday, Keck…  An hour with Harry Attridge reminded me that our relationship with this literature implicates us irresistibly in the artful interplay between the known and the unknown.”

Reflecting on Baden’s lecture, Spalding said, “Joel Baden is a master storyteller, whether he’s in search of the historical David or paying homage to the power of the printed text. The story he’s been telling lately—of the Museum of the Bible newly installed in Washington, and the political and social agenda whose fruition it represents—is as important in understanding our culture today as it is disturbing.”

Berkeley Divinity School

At this year’s Convocation and Reunions, Berkeley welcomed a friend from the Church of England to give the 2018 Cheney Lecture and receive the degree of Doctor of Divinity, honoris causa.

Martin Seeley is Bishop of St. Edmundsbury and Ipswich in the Church of England and Chair of the Ministry Council of the Church of England. His lecture addressed “Congregation, Community and Context: Realigning Theological Education.”

Watch Martin Seeley’s Cheney Lecture.

Andover Newton

In its second Convocation on the Quad since affiliating with Yale, Andover Newton Seminary at YDS offered its alumni and friends a robust slate of gatherings, worship, workshops, and lectures. Two figures who have quickly become fixtures on the Quad, Mark Heim and Melissa Heim, were given the Spirit of the Hill Award for exemplifying the mission of Andover Newton. Mark Heim, an Andover Newton M.Div. graduate, is the Samuel Abbot Professor of Christian Theology at Andover Newton Seminary at Yale Divinity School; Melissa Heim is Associate for Community Formation at Andover Newton Seminary at Yale Divinity School.

Andover Newton alumni/ae and friends were also given the chance to attend workshops on the following:

  • “Writing for Church and Beyond,” led by Andover Newton President Martin Copenhaver ’80 M.Div.
  • “Leadership and Belonging,” Dean Sarah Drummond ’93 B.A.
  • “Sharing Personal Testimony to Nurture Community,” Mark and Melissa Heim
  • “The Bible as God’s Autobiography,” Professor Gregory Mobley
  • “Writing our Spiritual Memoirs,” Professor Bob Pazmiño; Watch the video.

Class of 1968 reunion and gift

Celebrating its 50th reunion, the Class of 1968 took center stage at the Alumni Luncheon hosted by Dean Greg Sterling on Wednesday, Oct. 17. The Dean regaled the class and other attendees in a packed Old Refectory with trivia questions such as … in which decade did the first African American attend classes at YDS? And, who is the YDS alumnus who serves in the U.S. Senate? (Answers: the 1830s and Chris Coons, respectively.) The audience passed with flying colors, and YDS ball caps were awarded as prizes.

Before gathering in the back Quad for the traditional reunion photo, the Class of ’68 presented a gift to the Divinity School: a check for $297,953 for the new Class of 1968 Divinity Scholarship.   

View a gallery of photos from Wednesday at Convocation and Reunions.

Other highlights from the three days included:

• a well-attended reception for black alumni and students in the Day Missions Library, featuring remarks by Dean Sterling and Alumni Board Vice President Alisha Lola Jones ’07 M.Div. View photos of this and other Thursday festivities.

• a presentation of preliminary plans for the Divinity School’s proposed Living Village, which will be the largest living building residential complex in the world

• an introduction to the Undoing Racism Workshop

• a celebration of the Divinity School’s new oil portrait of James W.C. Pennington, featuring reflections by Nazeer Bacchus ‘19 M.A.R. and Paul Daniels ‘19 M.Div.

• a well-received sermon in Marquand by Kyle Brooks ‘12 M.Div., “Tales from a Non-Prophet.” Read a text of the sermon.  

Finally, on a more solemn note, the extended YDS family came together during Convocation and Reunions to remember the late Professor George Lindbeck. Read more about the life and career of George Lindbeck.

November 12, 2018