Next year’s Bicentennial observance will reflect on YDS past, imagine its future

May 3, 2022

YDS Dean Greg Sterling released the foillowing statement today to the Divinity School alums and the campus community.


I write today about a major historical milestone that we’re approaching and the many ways we will mark the occasion over the course of the 2022-23 academic year.
In 1822, YDS became a distinct school at a growing Yale, setting us on a course toward becoming the school we are today. Next year, from Opening Convocation through Commencement, we will reflect on and celebrate our history. Janus-like, we will look toward the future in addition to looking back. Indeed, the theme, chosen by a Bicentennial planning committee comprising students, faculty, and staff, is “YDS 200: Reflecting on our Past, Imagining our Future.”
Several years in the making, our Bicentennial observance will begin at the opening of next Fall Semester. Some have asked why we have not been celebrating the 200th anniversary during the current academic year. The answer, simply, is COVID. We wanted to have the Bicentennial celebrations in person. The persistence of the pandemic worked against that goal as we contemplated having the observance during 2021-22.
There is a great deal to look forward to next year, including the debut of a new hymn composed for the Bicentennial, a YDS history book, a special issue of Reflections, exhibits on YDS history, a conference on theology at YDS past and present, and a special Fall Convocation designed for more interaction between students and alums. Several special lectures as well as our annual named lectures will contribute to the bicentennial celebration. We will share more details on all of this and more in the weeks ahead. Please visit our new Bicentennial website, which will continue to expand as more of the year-long celebration falls into place.
A theme at Fall Convocation will be the concurrent calendar milestones of Berkeley Divinity School, Andover Newton Seminary at YDS, and the Yale Institute of Sacred Music. Berkeley will be celebrating 50 years since its affiliation with Yale and YDS. The ISM will be marking a half-century, too—the 50th anniversary of its founding. Andover Newton, meanwhile, will celebrate its fifth year as embedded institution at YDS.
I want to thank former Dean Harry Attridge, Sterling Professor of Divinity, Emeritus, for accepting my offer to chair the committee. He is leading the planning with great energy and aplomb. I also send thanks to those serving on the committee. In addition, I convey my warmest appreciation to Ray Waddle, the author of the history book (to be released this fall) and to the readers and reviewers who have offered helpful input on the book.
I look forward to what will be an exciting year. So much has happened, and so much has been accomplished, in our two centuries as a school at Yale. But our conversations about the future are, to me, the most exciting part of next year’s observance. The story of Yale Divinity School is still being written and will continue to be written for generations to come.

Best wishes,

Greg Sterling

May 3, 2022