December 2011

YDS alumni garner Association of Yale Alumni Board of Governors Excellence Awards

Yale Divinity School alumni have garnered two major Association of Yale Alumni Board of Governors Excellence Awards.   The awards—one for “outstanding school event” and the other for “best marketing, branding, and communications”—were formally announced on Friday, Nov. 18, during ceremonies at the AYA annual assembly.

GroupThe school event award was presented in recognition of  “Honoring the Past, Challenging the Future: Celebrating 8 Decades of Women at Yale Divinity School,” which highlighted Convocation and Reunions 2010 and helped bring a record number of alumni back to campus in 2010.  This “women’s reunion” documented and praised the presence of women at YDS through lectures, worship, song, panels, and meals—from the earliest days of women on campus in the early 1930s up until the present.

The marketing award recognized communications surrounding YDS’s 2011 Lenten initiative, entitled “Mobilizing Faith, Fighting Poverty,” which spanned the 40 days of Lent.  The initiative was kicked off by an anti-poverty conversation held on Ash Wednesday at the National Press Club in Washington co-sponsored with International Relief and Development, headed by YDS alum Arthur B. Keys Jr. ’73 M.Div.

The “Outstanding Graduate and Professional School Event Award” was presented “for the G&P event that exhibits overall excellence in participation, marketing, educational experience, and implementation.”

Talitha Arnold ’80 M.Div., chair of the women’s reunion and senior pastor at The United Church of Santa Fe (UCC) in Santa Fe, NM, said, “Planning the ‘8 Decades of Women’ Reunion was a lot of work, because we wanted to make sure everyone was included and honored—from the pioneering alumnae of the 1930’s through early 1970’s to the current and emerita faculty and staff to present-day students and those of us who graduated a few decades ago. We also wanted to include and recognize those men who offered support and encouragement along the way.

“And it was worth every minute of that planning to see the interaction among the 50-year alumnae and new students, hear the stories of the challenges faced (and overcome) across generations, and recommit together to the future of women at YDS and in ministry in all its forms.

Event Award PhotoAccepting the award at the AYA assembly was Joan Cooper Burnett ’04 M.Div., a member of the Alumni Board and one of the organizers of the “8 Decades” celebration.

The “Best Marketing, Branding, and Communications Effort” award was presented for “a successful communications effort based on design, creativity, implementation, and response.” “I’m thrilled that YDS—and particularly the collaboration among alumni, administration and staff—has been recognized by the AYA leadership and honored with this award!” said Alumni Board Chair Jerry Henry ’80 M.Div.

“Not only does this award recognize YDS’s creative and engaging marketing of the Lenten campaign, but, more importantly, it recognizes the coming together of YDS alums and friends to communicate an important social justice message,” added Henry, a partner in the Atlanta philanthropic fundraising firm Alexander Haas.  “I’m grateful to all the YDS alumni and staff who made ‘Mobilizing Faith, Fighting Poverty’ a truly international event.”
The “Celebrating 8 Decades of Women” event formally began with an announcement by Dean Harold Attridge during Commencement 2010, followed by a flurry of activities at Convocation and Reunions 2010, and continued through publication in spring 2011 with an issue of YDS’s magazine of theological and ethical reflection, Reflections, entitled “Women’s Journeys: Progress and Peril,” which included a number of articles by YDS alumna.

Among the highlights of the year-long celebration were presentations at Convocation 2010 by pioneering YDS alumnae from the 1940s, 50s, and 60s who challenged younger alums and current students to blaze new paths for a new generation of church women and presentations by younger alumnae who described some of the delights and continuing struggles of contemporary church life.

Keynote speakers at the event included Margaret Farley, the first tenured woman faculty member, and Joan Bates Forsberg, the school’s first advocate and dean of students.  Other presenters included Serene Jones  ’85 M.Div. ‘91 Ph.D., the fist woman president of Union Theological Seminary, and Emilie Townes, the first woman associate dean of academic affairs at YDS.

The women’s celebration resulted in creation of the “Eight Decades of Women” endowment fund aimed at providing scholarships for women at YDS, especially from those faith traditions that do not yet support women in ministry.

Marketing AwardThe “Mobilizing Faith, Fighting Poverty” Lenten 2011 campaign was positioned not only to gather alumni as a group but to market and communicate an important social justice message to the broader population, while at the same time lifting up the image of YDS, its mission, and Yale University.

The 40-day initiative began with a gathering on Ash Wednesday, March 9, at the National Press Club, attended by some 100 persons in the fields of ministry, law, government, and the non-profit sector, almost half of whom were YDS alumni.  The event also served to launch the fall 2010 issue of YDS’s Reflections magazine, entitled “No More Excuses: Confronting Poverty,” as primary speakers at the event included writers from that issue.  The keynote speaker was newly elected U.S. Senator Chris Coons ’92 M.A.R., ’92 J.D. of Delaware.

Following the Washington event, the Lenten campaign continued to urge a church focus on poverty through an ongoing marketing campaign via the internet, through a special “Poverty Teach-In” web site as well as a “Mobilizing Faith, Fighting Poverty” Facebook page.  During each of the 40 days of Lent, anti-poverty messages were posted on both sites. The Facebook page in particular, which received about 1,000 views on every posting, sparked interest beyond YDS in combatting poverty, prompting other organizations to promote the campaign, such as Church World Service, the National Council of Churches, the Dallas Area Progressive Alliance, the Beatitudes Society, and America magazine.

In addition to the regular postings on these two sites, videos of the Press Club event were posted on the University’s YouTube page, recording more than 600 viewings by the middle of the summer.

Providing strong support in organizing and hosting the event was Arthur B. Keyes Jr. ’73 M.Div., who volunteered the services of his staff at International Relief and Development, a Washington-based organization that he heads.  IRD underwrote the entire cost of the event, and IRD staff worked with YDS in planning and executing all aspects of he event, from sending invitations, to contacting press, to providing audio-/visual and catering arrangements.  Keyes was one of the contributors to the fall 2010 Reflections and was among the panelists at the National Press Club event.

Arnold said, “I’m grateful to the outpouring of interest on the part of YDS alums, both women and men, for the ‘8 Decades Celebration’ and deeply appreciative to the current YDS staff and faculty, especially Dean Attridge, Dean Townes, and Professor Emerita Margaret Farley for their support. Many and deep thanks to Director of Development Connie Royster and her staff for hours of preparation, encouragement, and attention to detail. Thanks also to Alumni Director Gail Briggs who’d only been on the job for two months before the Reunion and Director of External Affairs John Lindner for supporting the project every step of the way.”

Posted: 12/01/2011

Dean Harold Attridge honored with festschrift

Dean Harold Attridge was honored with a festschrift prior to the concurrent American Academy of Religion and Society of Biblical Literature meetings in San Francisco in November, in recognition of his New Testament scholarship over a span of four decades.  The festschrift, entitled Method and Meaning: Essays on New Testament Interpretation in Honor of Harold W. Attridge, is a tome of over 500 pages featuring articles by 30 scholars.

PresentsEditing the volume were Andrew B. McGowan, who studied under Attridge at Notre Dame and is now warden and president of Trinity College at the University of Melbourne in Australia, and Kent Harold Richards, who worked closely with Attridge over the years on a number of Society of Biblical Literature projects when Richards served as SBL executive director.

In their introductory essay, the two note that the book is intended to draw out many, but not all, of the numerous methodologies employed in critical contemporary New Testament scholarship.  It was published by the SBL as part of the Society’s continuing “Resources for Biblical Study” series.

The 30 essays in the festschrift are broken into three sections: Texts and Method; Context and Method; Method and Meaning. Among them are essays on the historical Jesus, form criticism, the Synoptic gospels, the Dead Sea Scrolls; Gnosticism, Hellenistic Judaism, gender and the body of Christ, the canon, and postcolonialism.

“Its aim has not been an exhaustive representation or description, but an attempt to present the status quaestionis for many disciplines and approaches,” McGowan and Richards write. “One of its purposes in doing so is to honor a scholar whose work encompasses a remarkable breadth of method and content.  Harold W. Attridge is widely admired for his acuity and erudition, which has contributed authoritatively to textual criticism, exegesis, comparative literary and historical studies, and numerous other areas in New Testament and cognate fields.

“He is also a valued and respected colleague whose leadership has made a great contribution to the academy, and the editors and contributors offer this as a tribute, with thanks.”

Attridge’s scholarly contributions have focused primarily in the areas of New Testament exegesis, the study of Hellenistic Judaism, and the history of the early Church.

Group PhotoHis publications include Hebrews: A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews; First-Century Cynicism in the Epistles of Heraclitus; The Interpretation of Biblical History in the Antiquitates Judaicae of Flavius Josephus; Nag Hammadi Codex I: The Jung Codex; The Acts of Thomas; and Essays on John and Hebrews, as well as numerous book chapters and articles in scholarly journals. He has edited or co-edited a number of books including, most recently, the Harper Collins Study Bible; Religion, Ethnicity and Identity in Ancient Galilee; and The Religion and Science Debate: Why Does It Continue? He has been an editorial board member of Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Harvard Theological Review, Journal of Biblical Literature, and the Hermeneia commentary series. He served as president of the Society of Biblical Literature in 2001.

A Roman Catholic layperson, Attridge began his teaching career in 1977 as an assistant professor of New Testament at the Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University after earning his Ph.D. at Harvard University in 1975.  In 1985, he joined the Department of Theology at the University of Notre Dame and was named dean of Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters in 1991.   He joined Yale Divinity School in 1997 as Lillian Claus Professor of New Testament, was appointed dean in 2002, and was named the Reverend Henry L. Slack Dean in 2009.

Attridge’s reach extends beyond the academy, and his opinion is frequently sought in a variety of public venues —including church gatherings, the popular press, and national television.

He has appeared on CNN’s NewsNight with Aaron Brown, Deborah Norville Tonight on MSNBCand on PBS’s Religion & Ethics Newsweekly, and he has been quoted in print by such publications as Time Magazine, the Boston Globe, the Houston Chronicle, and BusinessWeek.

A strong advocate of interfaith cooperation, Attridge was one of the principal drafters of the Loving God and Neighbor Together document that pointed to commonalities between Christianity and Islam and that was published in its entirety in the New York Times.

Posted: 12/02/2011

Willis Jenkins: earth care demands action as well as thought

Rhetoric around climate change is generating its own heat—denials in one corner, official pronouncements of ethical concern in another, and elsewhere a growing chorus of organized voices urging the global industrial north to change its way of life.

But the global warming challenge cries out for something more than posturing, says Willis Jenkins—practical action.

“It’s not enough for churches to tell politicians to get your act together and do something meaningful,” says Jenkins, the Margaret A. Farley Assistant Professor of Social Ethics at YDS.

“Climate change represents a new era. This is a new condition of responsibility that humanity has to the earth. For generations to come humans will be responsible for how atmospheric systems function. Religion can help us understand that responsibility. But the churches’ witness can be powerful only if they can demonstrate they have the capacity for action that shows what that responsibility means in practice.”

Jenkins’s current book project, “Sustainability, Social Justice, & Christian Ethics,” starts by critically examining how a dozen communities on various continents attempt to make their faith respond to the climate crisis.

“How do real communities generate solutions that also make a creative, faithful response to God?” he says.

“What generates creativity is the gap that exists between the problem and solutions demanded by love and justice.”

In efforts large and small, many churches are trying to answer that demand, Jenkins says. Some congregations are adopting carbon covenants to reduce their emissions and advocate for legislative change, or promoting carbon fasts during Lent, or initiating denominational dialogues across the global north and south.

One example from his research: an Anglican climate justice network that gathers bishops and lay people from companion dioceses to work, pray, and worship across some of the differences that frustrate global climate negotiations.

“The climate problem won’t yield simple solutions,” Jenkins says. “It can’t be solved like that. It’s now an enduring feature of planetary life that we must manage. These efforts create practices by which we can begin to be competent.”

Jenkins’s focus on real-world responses to ethical urgencies can be traced to two historical figures who inspire him—Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Martin Luther King Jr.

Each worked in very different milieus—Bonhoeffer a German minister who joined the attempt to assassinate Hitler during World War II, King a Baptist minister who used nonviolent principles to upend American racial injustice—but both embody what Jenkins calls “theocentric pragmatism.” Each in his own tumultuous time came to see that the call of God meant a call to action even in the face of the dangerous conditions of their day. Each willingly left the safety of their churchly routines to join a divine drama for justice on the streets, knowing they risked death.

“Both were transformed by social movements that they interpreted as the concrete drama of God in the world in their time,” Jenkins says. “This is where God’s mission is, they concluded, and they acted on it.”

Jenkins explores and underscores that pragmatic ethical challenge in Bonhoeffer and King: Their Legacies and Import for Christian Social Thought (Fortress, 2010), a book he co-edited. There he concluded:

“After King and after Bonhoeffer, Christian social thought depends on risk and creativity, on inventing anew the possibility of discovering and joining the body of God taking shape in history. Christian ethics has moved away from adjudicating principles or narrating Christian identity, and toward devising strategies that keep making gospel hope from violent cultures and poor inheritances.”

This demanding but necessary pragmatism applies to a complex challenge like climate change, Jenkins argues. Real-world responses have been modest so far, yet even modest efforts are far preferable to the trends that now dominate the conversation, he says.

In this presidential election cycle, for instance, denial is an established political posture. It’s a fixture in some more conservative Christian communities, too.

“Some deny climate change is a problem at all, or they suspect distorted science, or they say God won’t allow us to destroy the world this way,” Jenkins says. “That’s what communities say when they’re not sure what their faith means in relation to a major problem to be faced.”

It appears that Christian denial around climate change is a peculiarly North American phenomenon, Jenkins observes.

“What’s especially scandalous about Christian denialism is not so much that it ridicules the science as that it seems nihilistic to the faith—as if the faith isn’t capable of generating a response to this kind of challenge. This seems like a desperate maneuver. They are aligning the Christian way of life with a modern post-industrial, American way of life.”

But liberal churches aren’t in a much better position.

“They’ve made official pronouncements against climate change and offered specific policy recommendations. But their focus has been only on getting political solutions when climate change represents a much broader moral and cultural crisis. So the creative, pragmatic action that is needed must show how we can become the sort of people and societies that can bear responsibility for the atmosphere. It’s more than policy.”

Churches that want to be tough-minded and practical about the climate crisis—the difficult questions about justice, species loss, biodiversity destruction, the obligation to future generations—need to be clear-eyed about four features of the problem that work to defeat a political-cultural response, he says:

  • Countries with the highest carbon production are the least likely to do anything, while those that have done the least to cause the problem will suffer the most.
  • A cruel disincentive structure is in place: future generations will have it worse than present generation, making it easier for current populations to defer hard decisions.
  • The challenge to protect at-risk species will always be steep because they have no voice in our decisions.
  • The sheer fact of global inequality, the persistence of poverty, make it difficult to create structures of cooperation and trust across hemispheres and cultures.

“Climate change is so complex that it’s hard to see how Christianity can generate an adequate response,” Jenkins believes. But, with an eye on Bonhoeffer and King, he says hope gets the last word: “We can sustain hope in the face of big planetary problems—hope sustained by the demands of love and justice and fairness to push us to creative action. There’s where our witness must be.”

Posted: 12/05/2011

Concurrent AAR/SBL meetings set stage for packed YDS reception

For Yale Divinity School faculty and alumni who met Nov. 19-22 in San Francisco at the concurrent meetings of the American Academy of Religion and Society of Biblical Literature, it was like old times.  And, by all accounts, that was a cause for much celebration.

From 1970 through 2007, the AAR and SBL held joint annual meetings, but in 2008, for a variety of reasons, they began meeting at different times and venues.  In 2011, for the first time in four years, the groups were back together again, beginning a new era of concurrent meetings.

For Yale folk, a highlight of the concurrent meetings was the traditional Yale reception, hosted by YDS and open to faculty, alums and friends of both YDS and Yale’s Department of Religious Studies.  Naturally, since this year’s reception brought together scholars linked to both the AAR and SBL, the number of attendees was large—about 250—and made for a packed room at the Hilton Union Square Hotel.

“Though this merger meant that the venue for the YDS reception was bulging at the seams, it was a lively occasion well worth attending,” said Ken Kuntz ’59 B.D., an SBL member who taught Hebrew Bible for many years in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Iowa.

He reported, “On the edges of the meetings I was delighted to interact with AAR as well as SBL associates, especially those former Ph.D. candidates whom I had taught and counseled at the University of Iowa for whom biblical studies was not a concentration.” 

Likewise, Kate Ott ’00 M.A.R., who has served as a lecturer at YDS in pastoral care and is now assistant professor of Christian social ethics at Drew Theological School in Madison, NJ, noted that it was nice to be able to meet with SBL members as well as AAR colleagues. “It was a joy to see many familiar faces at the YDS reception,” she said, “and have the opportunity to be with friends and colleagues that I otherwise might go years without seeing in person.”

“The annual meeting and the YDS reception hummed in a way they haven’t in years,” said Martha Serpas ’94 M.Div., an AAR member who teaches in the Department of English at the University of Houston and is a trauma hospital chaplain. “I was very glad to see SBL friends and to attend the Biblical poetry sessions I’ve been missing.”

While there is overlap in the missions and activities of AAR and SBL, the mission of AAR is grounded in “reflection upon and understanding of religious traditions, issues, questions, and values,” whereas SBL is focused on fostering biblical scholarship.  In some cases, scholars are affiliated with both groups, but usually they affiliate with one or the other.

Yale Divinity School boasts former presidents of both organizations.  Dean Harold Attridge and Holmes Professor of Old Testament John Collins each headed the SBL, while Associate Dean of Academic Affairs Emilie Townes served as president of the AAR.

For them, there were both practical and social aspects of the concurrent meetings that made this year’s gatherings particularly fruitful.

“Having the two major scholarly organizations together again eliminated the duplication of efforts of recent years that was a drain on our resources,” Attridge observed.  “The synergy between the two organizations was manifest in many ways, in attendance at sessions, in the collaborative efforts of faculty who were interviewing candidates for positions, and perhaps most strikingly in the Yale reception.”

Collins said, “There was general relief at the reunion of AAR/SBL. The separation had been especially difficult for booksellers. It had posed two problems for schools like YDS: the problem of double receptions and the difficulty of getting a quorum for search committee interviews at the meeting.

“Both of these problems were relieved by the reunion. It was especially good to see lots of YDS alumni who would have attended the ‘other’ meeting if the two had been separate.”

Said Townes, “Having the annual meetings of the AAR and SBL meet concurrently in the same location made it possible for many groups and individuals to do the kind of intellectual networking that is only feasible when the groups meet in this manner.

“I found the conversations to be lively and engaged, the interdisciplinary insights provoking. .  .All in all, it was and will be a very good thing!”

As usual, scores of lectures and panel presentations formed the core of both the AAR and SBL meetings, and Yale Divinity School faculty were well represented.

Among the faculty making presentations at the various sessions were:

American Academy of Religion: Emilie Townes, Overcoming Barriers to Underrepresented Scholarship: A Strategy and Action Workshop; the Wiley Blackwell Companion to Practical Theology; Womanist Theological Ethics: A Reader. Teresa Berger, Gender Differences and he Making of Liturgical History. Mary Evelyn Tucker, film, Journey of the Universe. Janet Ruffing, Presidential Address, Society for the Study of Christian Spirituality. Thomas Ogletree, Facilitating Human Freedoms and Constraining Persistent Abuses. Miroslav Volf, Confronting Islamaphobia; Allah, A Christian Response; Divinity and Business School Cooperation; Beyond Atheistic and Religious Fundamentalisms. Willis Jenkins, Faithful Presence: A Response to James Hunter’s To Change the World.  Shannon Craigo-Snell, Disembodied Knowledge as Bodily Practice. Sally Promey, Artifacts of Crisis: Religion and the Material Culture of Cataclysm. Jan Holton, How are You Blessed by God? Negotiating the Fluid Boundaries of Pastoral Theological Ethnography in Post-conflict Zones.

Society of Biblical Literature:  David Eastman, Old Rome as New Rome: The Cult of Peter and Paul and the Recreation of Roman Identity. Judith Gundry, Does Paul Think Singles Avoid Hardship, Anxiety or Conflict of Interest? Carolyn Sharp, Buying Land in the Text of Jeremiah: Feminist Commentary, the Kristevan Abject, and Jeremiah. Adela Yarbro Collins, Rewritten Prophets: The Use of Older Scripture in Revelation. Harold Attridge, Symposia and the Fourth Gospel. Jeremy Hultin, The So-Called “Epistula Anne ad Senecam”: A Jewish Pseudepigraphon in Latin.

Posted: 12/05/2011

Revised: 12/06/2011

YDS Day of Service: connecting the dots, from faith to community engagement

By Casey Cep ’13 M.Div.

On one Friday early in November, 85 Yale Divinity School students and staff devoted their afternoons to serving their neighbors in New Haven. The second annual Day of Service began with a Eucharist in Marquand Chapel and a community meal in the Common Room, spilled out into eight different sites around the city, and then finished with a Community Dinner back on campus.

Day of ServiceOne group of students assembled toiletry kits for the Columbus House homeless shelter; one played games and shared conversation at Fellowship Place, which provides support services for adults with mental illness; another served music and ice cream at the Mary Wade Home elderly care facility, while others painted, baked brownies, cleaned apartments, or made cards for seniors.

Organized by the YDS Committee on Community Engagement (YCCE), the Day of Service was a splendid opportunity for students and staff to leave Prospect Hill and engage neighborhoods and neighbors around New Haven. Volunteers committed one afternoon to building partnerships with local nonprofits and service organizations, though organizers hope this one day inspires deeper, long-term relationships.

“We’re really hoping to transform the culture of YDS into one concerned about its immediate neighbors in New Haven,” said Lisa Levy ’12 M.Div. As volunteer coordinator for the Divinity School, Levy hopes to facilitate continued opportunities for her fellow students to volunteer with local organizations. “People come to New Haven with a perception of it being dangerous or crime-ridden, and I don’t mean to deny that, but I think once you get off the Hill and meet people and hear their stories, it’s transformative.”

Levy added that her work with volunteerism has everything to do with faith: “I don’t think I would have made it through YDS if I hadn’t found ways to live my theology.”

Living one’s faith was certainly the theme of the chapel service that opened the Day of Service. In the call to worship, Kyle Brooks ’12 M.Div. led the assembly in affirming God’s command “to do justice and to love kindness and to walk humbly with our God.”

Rebecca Floyd ’12 M.Div. preached a sermon on Amos 5 calling those gathered to “an embodied love “ that is engaged in the world. Reflecting on the motto of YDS—“Faith and Intellect: Preparing Leaders for Church and World”—she said, “Loving God cannot happen only here in this chapel.”

Day of Service 2Faculty Adviser to the YCCE and Assistant Dean of Students for Pastoral ConcernsJulie Kelsey then presided over the Eucharist. Moving from one table to another, participants left Marquand for the Common Room, where Associate Dean of Academic Affairs Emilie Townes offered a blessing of the lunch meal and then a sending of participants from the campus into the community.

At the Episcopal Church of St. Paul & St. James, one of the volunteer teams provided food and companionship to persons experiencing homelessness.  Vincent Stokes ’12 M.Div. said, “I love doing this stuff. Service is the rent we pay for our room here on earth.”

Stokes said that afternoons like the Day of Service are integral to his studies and his faith. “Religion without responsibility is ridiculous,” he declared, describing how this kind of work is integral to his understanding of the Gospel. Joined with a half dozen other students, Stokes shared an hour with homeless men and women by playing music, board games, and talking about their lives.

Stokes’s volunteer team and several of the other groups already plan for subsequent visits to their sites, which makes Volunteer Coordinator Lisa Levy more than pleased with the second annual Day of Service. “What I hope,” she said, “is that YDS students will be transformed through the Day of Service and enter into a sustained life of service. Eighty-five students did that this year and will hopefully do it again in the spring.”

Posted: 12/02/2011

Mary Clark Moschella and Kathryn Tanner report on research projects at 2011 Henry Luce III Fellows in Theology Conference

“Making Room for Joy” and “Grace and Gambling” were the titles of back-to-back presentations by two Yale Divinity School professors at the annual Henry Luce III Fellows in Theology Conference held Nov. 11-12 in Pittsburgh, PA.

TannerDelivering these talks, respectively, were Mary Clark Moschella, the Roger J. Squire Professor in Pastoral Care and Counseling, and Kathryn Tanner ’79 B.A., ’85 Ph.D., the Frederick Marquand Professor of Systematic Theology.

Moschella and Tanner, both relatively recent additions to the YDS faculty, were among the 2010-11 class of six Luce Fellows selected from across the country.  The Pittsburgh gathering was an opportunity for each of those Fellows to showcase the fruits of their Luce-related research to other scholars—including the 2011-12 class of Fellows, one of whom is another YDS faculty member, Assistant Professor of Asian Theology Chloë Starr.

The purpose of the Luce Fellows program, which provides funding for a year of research frequently leading to publication of a book, is “to encourage theological scholarship of the highest quality, to increase the visibility of this work, and to promote connections with other academic disciplines, communities of faith, and the public sphere.”

Moschella spent 2010-11 studying joy in ministry and in life through the lenses of theology, psychology, and history, and in several diverse settings: an urban church in a poor section of the Bronx; a community in South Africa that is dealing with the aftermath of apartheid; a ministry to gang members in the Barrios of East Los Angles; and in a residential community for developmentally disabled adults.

MoschellaHer purpose, Moschella says, was three-fold:

  • To inject the awareness of God’s love into our basic understanding and teaching of pastoral theology and care.
  • To increase students’ own sense of wellbeing and joy in pastoral ministries.
  • To flesh out a pastoral-theological argument for the importance of joy in the ministry and in life.

“Creating space for joy is not a secondary matter or frill,” Moschella argues, “but a central pastoral practice, right at the heart of faithful and committed ministries, and right at the tender heart of God.”

In her research, Tanner finds that “basic Christian beliefs and practices, when suitably interpreted, are about much the same things that financial markets are about: the proper way, in community with others, of coping with insecurity and the risk of loss.”

However, Tanner elucidates how responses to those insecurities and risks are totally different from the perspectives of the financial market and Christian practice:

“Unlike the solutions of financial markets, in Christianity one forgoes efforts out of either fear or misplaced confidence to secure oneself by worldly means, through other persons or things or one’s own accomplishments.. Swings between abject fear and false hope are avoided through confidence in an abiding source of divine love and mercy that lies beyond all the usual shifting and, in any case quite insufficient, presumed bases for reliable calculation of likely future outcomes.”

In the past decade, YDS has had a significant number of faculty members selected for the prestigious Luce Fellowships.  In addition to Moschella, Tanner, and Starr, recent recipients have included Margot Fassler (2008-09), Gene Outka (2006-07), Christl Maier (2005-06), Emilie Townes (2005-06, while at Union Theological Seminary). Marilyn McCord Adams (2002-03), and John Collins (2000-01).

Posted: 12/03/2011

People Notes


Featured photo

A film produced by PictureWise Productions, a UK-based TV and video production company that counts Kathleen LaCamera ’83 M.Div.among its partners, has received top honors at the 2011 How-Do Public Services Communications Awards.  The film, Dying for a Laugh, features a half-dozen celebrity comedians tackling death from a humorous perspective, in an attempt to get people laughing and talking about a theme that is among the most taboo of subjects.

Episcopal Church Bishop of Virginia Shannon S. Johnston will ordain two YDS alums during ceremonies to be held at St. Stephen’s Church in Richmond on Dec. 10, 10:30 am.  Ordinands include Carmen Christine  Germino ’07 M.Div., ’11 S.T.M. and Evelyn Wheeler ’11 M.Div.

Susan R. Garrett, former YDS Lillian Claus Associate Professor of New Testament, has been elected to be the next dean of Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, beginning June 1, 2012. She will succeed David C. Hester, who will be honored in the spring for his seven years of service and leadership as seminary dean.  Seminary President Michael Jinkins said, “I am profoundly grateful that Dr. Garrett has discerned a call to serve as Academic Dean of our Seminary. The Dean is the principal advocate and supporter of the school’s core educational mission, the hinge position upon which the most vital aspects of the school turn. I am confident that Sue Garrett has the gifts, abilities, and character to be a superb Dean.  Oct. 27, 2011, Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary announcement.

YDS Professor MIrolsav Volf’s book A Public Faith was named among the 100 best books of 2011 by Publisher’s Weekly.  PW’s announcement said, “The gifted Christian theologian answers a pressing question in a pluralistic culture, arguing that nonexclusionary theological truth is not only possible but also socially healthy.”

Henri Nouwen’ s book Home Tonight (in Dutch, Eindelijk) was named “best 20th-century spiritual book” in the Netherlands in November according to a contest organized by the Dutch newspaper Trouw.   His brother Laurent came and accepted the award on behalf of Henri.  The late Henri Nouwen was a very popular member of the YDS faculty in the 1970s and was a priest of the Archdiocese of Utrecht.

“If we continue to think creatively outside of the institutional church, we will discover the myriad ways that we are already church – in our work, in our families, in our volunteering, in our communities. We must discover all of the ways in which we bring the very life of God into our world. We must discover all of the ways that we are doing the traditional work of the church, even if it is well outside the walls of the institution.”  Jamie Manson ’02 M.Div., Nov. 9, 2011, National Catholic Reporter, in the story “Call to Action keynote speaker addresses grace on the margins.”

“I remember that night in October leaving the conversation thinking how much she cares about people.  I left the conversation admiring her desire to see people be better and to impact the lives of individuals so that they can live up to their full potential.” Rev. Nathaniel Wright, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church I Ithaca, NY, Nov. 10, 2011,, speaking about Margie Mayson ’77 M.Div., in the article “St. Paul’s Methodist mourns pastor, Margie Mayson dies while visiting daughter in Oregon.”

“She has the ability to be very open and respectful and is eager to engage in new ideas and new things, but she also has the ability to be critical, to make sure we’re living out our mission as a staff.”  Karl Kuhn, associate professor of religion at Lakeland College, Nov. 11, 2011, Sheboygan (WI) Press, speaking about Kelly Stone ’06 M.Div., in the article “Chaplain’s next chapter: Lakeland College’s Rev. Kelly Stone headed for Wellesley

“I felt as though I had discovered a missing piece of the puzzle, which was the convergence of the history, the tradition and reason, all packaged beautifully within the order and dignity of the liturgy.”  Cameron Randle ’08 M.Div., Nov. 12, 2011, (VA), in the article “Winding spiritual trip to shore.”

“In many ways they’re like a small family and I’ve gotten to know everyone very well. It will be a larger family at the cathedral but it will be harder to get to know the people there, as well as I’ve gotten to know the people here.”  Wallace Marsh ’07 M.Div., Nov. 19, 2011, The Marietta (GA) Daily Journal, in the article “A new journey: Pastor leaving Cobb with fond memories,” about Marsh’s transition from a small church to the Cathedral of St. Phillip in Atlanta.–Pastor-leaving-Cobb-with-fond-memories?instance=lead_story_left_column

Margot E. Fassler’s book The Virgin of Chartres: Making History through Liturgy and the Arts (Yale University Press, 2010) has won the Ace/Mercers’ International Book Award. The award is made by Art and Christianity Enquiry annually to a “book which makes an outstanding contribution to the dialogue between religious faith and the visual arts.” Fassler, former director of the Yale Institute of Sacred Music, is the Keough-Hesburgh Professor of Music History and Liturgy at the University of Notre Dame.

“This is a place where people are game to try new things.”  Kelly Moughty ’12 M.Div., Nov. 21, 2011, DarienPatch, in the article “Darien Native Interns at Trumbull Church.”

Social media technology company Quepasa Corporation, owner of popular Latino online social network and myYearbook, has announced the appointment of mobile industry veteran Fred Beckley ’89 J.D., ’90 M.A.R. as general counsel and executive vice president of business affairs. Beckley has extensive experience spearheading mergers and acquisitions activities for both domestic and international companies, and developing the business and legal framework for affiliated enterprises.  Nov. 28, 2011,

 “It’s been hard for me to be away from my Cathedral family as you’ve undergone all the challenges this fall, and you remain in my daily prayers. Please know that the work you all do is critical. When people learn that my home parish is WNC, to a person, I hear how much the Cathedral means to them, and a personal story about a time they worshiped or visited, and how much the community – you – welcomed them, deepening their relationship with God. Some people have told me their visit has been a pivotal point in their spiritual journey.” Sally Slater ’14 M.Div., in a “Postulant Letter” posted on the “Congregational Letters” section of  Washington National Cathedral’s web site.…/congoMember_P2_Sally.shtml

“He simply spoke of the gospel so compellingly that I wanted know more – about the way of life he was describing, about why his words struck me with such force and about how I could learn to use language that way, too.”  Barbara Brown Taylor ’76 M.Div., Nov. 27, 2011,, commenting about renowned preacher Fred Craddock in the article “A preaching ‘genius’ faces his toughest convert.”

Berkeley Divinity students engage traditions of Church of South India and Church of Mar Thoma

In November, the Berkeley Divinity School at Yale explored its liturgical connections with the Church of South India and the Church of Mar Thoma (the Mar Thoma Syrian Church of Malabar). The Church of South India is a member church of the Anglican Communion, and the Church of Mar Thoma is an Eastern Oriental Church in the Syriac tradition in full communion with the churches of the Anglican Communion.

BishopOn Nov. 2, Bishop Duleep de Chickera, the retired bishop of the Diocese of Colombo in Sri Lanka, presided at a Berkeley Eucharist service using the Church of South India liturgy, then spoke with students at the Berkeley Center about his ongoing reconciliation work in the region.

On Nov. 15, the Rev. Biju Simon of the Church of Mar Thoma addressed students in the English Reformation Liturgical Traditions and the Evolution of the Anglican Books of Common Prayer course taught by Bryan Spinks, the Bishop F. Percy Goddard Professor of Liturgical Studies and Pastoral Theology.

Students in this course are studying the liturgies of these two Asian churches and comparing them to the Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church of the U.S.A. Finally, on Nov. 16, Simon and members of his Mar Thoma church in New York presided over a Berkeley Eucharist service in the Mar Thoma Syriac tradition.

Posted: 12/05/2011

December 1, 2011