Notes from the Quad May 2003

Notes from the Quad

May 2003


  • Honoring Bill Coffin
  • Alumni of Color Convocation Round-up
  • New Leadership on Advisory Board
  • Britton Named Dean of Berkeley
  • New Supervisor Orientation
  • “Preparing for the Preaching Year”
  • Involved in a multi-cultural parish?



Dear Friends,

Perhaps word has already reached you that our colleague and friend, William Sloane Coffin, Jr. is unwell.

Always a person whose vigor energizes all around him, Bill suffered a stroke a few years ago, which, though it did not slow him down, it did leave his movement and speech somewhat, impaired. Now it is his heart, which has always been, “a little to the left,” as one of his books reminds us, is rapidly being overtaken in an irreparable way.

Bill is retired and lives, with his wife Randy, in Vermont. He is aware, alert and still offering thoughtful and sharp judgments on the issues of the day! But, alas, his long, devoted, and inspiring life will too soon come to an end, and his powerful and prophetic voice will not longer be heard.

With the idea that generations of clergy colleagues would want to be informed of Bill’s failing health, and that some of you may want to take a few minutes to write him in appreciation for his generous ministry and inspired leadership over the course of nearly sixty years, we invite your correspondence.

If receive your letters, notes, reminiscences and reflections to or about Bill by June 20th, they will be bound into a book to be presented to him soon thereafter. We have no doubt such memories will be as appreciated by him as his sermons, speeches, books, and ready encouragement have been, and continue to be, for us. Never one to mince words in his ever-articulate and forceful of “speaking truth to power,” we know he will be lifted by a few words from us.

Over the years Bill Coffin has been the rightful recipient of many honors, awards and honorary degrees including two from his alma mater. In 1996, he was awarded The Distinguished Alumnus/ea Award from the Yale Divinity School and last year he received the honorary Doctor of Theology from the University. But whether at Yale, in jail, on the picket line or - where he has always seemed most at home - in the pulpit, Bill has been good friend to many in ministry. We hope therefore to be able to present him with a book of many thanks.

If you wish to contribute, please submit any number of pages, 8.5 x 11 inches, with a half-inch left-hand margin. We will bind all submissions into “Bill’s Book.”

Please send e-mail correspondence to:

Or by post to:
“A Book For Bill Coffin”
c/o James Ebert
Alumni/ae Office
Yale Divinity School
409 Prospect Street
New Haven 06511


Rev. Ronald Evans, ‘70 YDS Board of Advisors
Rev. Dr. Frederick J. Streets ‘75 University Chaplain
Rev. Jana Norman, ‘93 YDS Alumnal Board


The first ever YDS Alumni/ae of Color Convocation at the beginning of May was a huge success.

A portrait of the Rev. Leon Watts, who passed away just a week before the convocation, was unveiled during the festivities, and now hangs in the YDS Common Room next to other portraits of Div. School leaders and scholars. Rev. Dr. Watts’s portrait, painted by artist Otto Neals, is the first of a person of color to be displayed at the School. Several family members attended the unveiling and his brother spoke about Rev. Dr. Watts’s legacy. Ian Straker, ‘85, spoke on behalf of the alumni and Prof. David Kelsey spoke on behalf of the faculty.

Another African-American leader, the Rev. Ronald B. Packnett was honored with a scholarship in his name. Rev. Packnett is remembered for his outstanding leadership, integrity of character, and a life marked by discipline and service to the church. Rev. Packnett’s wife, Gwendolyn DeLoach and his children, Brittany and R. Barrington were on hand to announce the establishment of the scholarship, which will seek students with similar qualities and provide financial aid for the pursuit of a Master of Divinity degree at YDS.

The convocation’s keynote address was given by noted civil rights leader, U.S. Congressman and pastor, Walter E. Fauntroy, a 1958 YDS alumn. Other speakers and preachers over the three days included Delois Brown-Daniels, Joseph E. Lowery, Roberto Goizueta, Charles Brown, Robert M. Franklin, W. Franklyn-Richardson and Wonhee Anne Joh. The convocation also featured a number of receptions, worship services, presentations, teas and tours, panel discussions, live-music social hours and dinners.


Christopher Glenn Sawyer, M. Div. ‘75, was voted to chair the YDS Advisory Board. He succeeds Don Parker, who has chaired the board for four years.

“Don Parker has provided steady leadership to the YDS Board of Advisors during a tumultuous time for the school,” said Dean Harold W. Attridge. “He has advised four deans and held the members of the board together in the midst of controversy about the shape and future of Yale Divinity School, and has been invaluable in facilitating the transition to new leadership on the Board.”

Mr. Sawyer is a partner with Alston & Bird, a law firm in Atlanta. He specializes in corporate governance, real estate and conservation issues. He is on the board of directors of Industrial Developments International, one of the largest private development companies in America, and EDAW, one of the largest land consulting firms in the world. He is currently serving in his seventh year as national Chairman of the Board of Directors of The Trust for Public Land.

“Chris Sawyer is committed to enhancing the excellence of Yale Divinity School,” said Dean Attridge, “he is eager for the challenge of growing and developing an effective Board of Advisors for YDS for the new millennium.”

Three other leaders were named at the board meeting. Tim Collins, SOM ‘82 and founder of Ripplewood Holdings LLC, a New York private equity fund, was voted to head the Development Committee. Megan Jessiman, ‘91, was named chair of the Membership Committee. And Billi Alban was voted head of the Special Initiatives Committee.


The Board of Trustees of Berkeley Divinity School at Yale announced in conjunction with Dean Harold W. Attridge the appointment of the Rev. Canon Joseph Harp Britton as Dean of the Berkeley Divinity School at Yale and Associate Dean of Yale Divinity School.

Britton, formerly the Canon Missioner of the Convocation of American Churches in Europe, comes to Berkeley from the European Institute of Christian Studies in Paris, where he is the founding director. He received his A.B. from Harvard University in 1982, an M.Div. with honors from The General Theological Seminary in 1989, and a Th.D. in moral and systematic theology from the Institut Catholique de Paris in 2002.

Before going to Paris, Britton served parishes in New York, Massachusetts, and California. He has also served as a tutor for the East Anglian Ministerial Training Course in Cambridge, England and as a thesis director for Columbia University Programs in Paris. His work has been published in such journals as the Anglican Theological Review, Anglican and Episcopal History, and the Sewanee Theological Review.

“I am very pleased to welcome Joseph Britton to our Yale Divinity School team,” said Attridge. “As a theologian with extensive pastoral experience in the United States and Europe, he is an excellent choice to guide Berkeley in its mission of training leaders for the Episcopal Church, both in the United States and in the worldwide Anglican communion. As Associate Dean of Yale Divinity School, Rev. Britton will play a significant role in the leadership of a vibrant, ecumenical theological community, committed to academic excellence in the preparation of leaders for the church universal. I am delighted with the appointment and look forward to productive collaboration with Rev. Britton in the years ahead.”

Britton noted that, “Through its affiliation with Yale Divinity School, Berkeley offers an extraordinary opportunity for the formation of new clergy with both an intellectual and spiritual depth. Working within a rich ecumenical and academic environment, Berkeley students have the possibility to become grounded in the remarkable diversity of the Christian experience, as well as in the particular ethos of the Anglican tradition. Given the very positive momentum created by the School’s renewed affiliation with Yale, I hope-in collaboration with Dean Attridge and the other faculty-to build on Berkeley’s existing strengths to enhance its already strong reputation as a seminary which trains especially qualified and capable leaders for the church.”

The new dean, whose appointment is effective July 1, is an Episcopal Church Foundation Fellow, and a member of the Society of Christian Ethics and the American Academy of Religion. He has represented the Episcopal Church in a number of ecumenical roles, including as a Scaife-Anderson Fellow at the Russian Orthodox Institut Saint-Serge in Paris. Britton will succeed Interim Dean Frederick H. Borsch, the retired Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles.


In many professions, those who move into supervisory roles are expected to participate in continuing education as they assume their new responsibilities. That same idea is behind the requirement that new part-time internship supervisors at Yale Divinity School be oriented. Being a supervisor has many facets, from instruction to evaluation to modeling to guidance. The two-day orientation, offered at YDS August 19-20, will prepare you to do all of it.



8:30-9:00 Continental Breakfast

9:00-10:30 Introduction
You will learn the history of field education within theological education. You will be introduced to the theoretical basis underlying field education at YDS: our goal is to help students become “reflective practitioners.”

11:00-12:00 Policies and procedures
You will become familiar with all the policies and procedures of the supervised ministry program at YDS so that your first year goes smoothly.

12:00-1:00 Lunch

1:00-2:30 The art of supervision
Using film and literature, we will compare different images of the “supervisor” to help you develop your own preferred identity and mode of supervision. We will discuss what supervision is and what it is not and learn the “Ten Commandments of Supervision.”

3:00-4:30 The practice of theological reflection
Supervisors and interns do not necessarily sit down and study theology together, rather, they do theology together. You will be introduced to a variety of approaches to theological reflection and try one or two with your colleagues.


8:30-9:00 Continental Breakfast

9:00-10:30 Offering praise and feedback
Contrary to popular opinion, some of the latest research suggests that praise has limited educational and motivational value for those we mentor, and that we should practice new ways of offering feedback. We will engage this debate and role-play some scenarios.

11:00-12:00 Raising up new leaders
Is leadership primarily about offering a vision for others to follow, or getting others to work on their problems? You will reflect on what kind of leadership you and your sites will model as you teach your interns how to be leaders themselves.

12:00-1:00 Lunch

1:00-2:30 The ethics of field education
Field education has ethical and even legal implications that we best consider in advance of becoming supervisors. We will discuss cases of confidentiality, privacy, handling relationships, undue influence, and assessment, as they apply to interns, supervisors, sites, and the school.

3:00-4:30 Interviewing and evaluating
As the first and last acts of supervision, the interview and the final evaluation help frame a successful internship. You will consider these functions in light of your preferred mode of supervision identified during the afternoon of Day One. Interviewing and evaluating also become opportunities for defining excellence in ministry, so we will examine our definitions of excellent ministry.

To register, please contact the Alumni Office for more details (203) 432-3871. Or e-mail James Ebert.

First Annual YDS Summer Institute

With this summer’s preaching conference, “Preparing for the Preaching Year” from June 23rd to 27th, YDS begins its Summer Institute Series. Professors David Bartlett and Robert Wilson will be joined by The Reverend Shelley D.B. Copeland for a week of study, reflection and preparation for the coming preaching year.

Professor Bartlett’s areas of research include homiletics, biblical exegesis and interpretation for preaching, and New Testament theology. He has contributed articles to such journals as Interpretation, The Christian Century, Journal for Preachers, and Lectionary Homiletics, among others. An ordained minister of the American Baptist Churches, U.S.A., Professor Bartlett has served congregations in Minnesota, Illinois, and California, and taught at Union Theological Seminary, Richmond, Virginia; the Pacific School of Religion; the Divinity School of the University of Chicago; the United Seminary of the Twin Cities; the American Baptist Seminary of the West; and the Graduate Theological Union.

Professor Robert Wilson, Hoober Professor of Religious Studies and Professor of Old Testament, YDS. A former chair of the Yale University Department of Religious Studies, Professor Wilson’s areas of academic interest include Israelite prophecy, the Deuteronomistic history, and ancient Israelite religion in its social and cultural context. His scholarly articles have appeared in the Journal of Biblical Literature, among others, and he has been a contributor to the Encyclopedia of Religion, the Harper Collins Study Bible, and the Anchor Bible Dictionary. He has been actively involved in the Society of Biblical Literature, serving as chair of the Social Roles of prophecy in Israel Group, and as the Old Testament editor of the Society of Biblical Literature dissertation series.

The Reverend Shelley D.B. Copeland, Executive Director of the Capitol Region Conference of Churches, Hartford, Connecticut. She is the seventh executive director and the first woman to head the century old ecumenical organization. Since 1995, Reverend Copeland has been the pastor of Workman Memorial A.M.E. Zion Church in Torrington, CT. In addition, she currently serves as the Assistant Director of the Black Ministries Program at Hartford Seminary, is a lecturer in clergy professional ethics at Yale Divinity School and is the executive director and co-founder with her husband, Michael A. Copeland, of the non-profit Faith Community Development Institute, Inc.

The conference will be limited to 25 and will be concurrent with the New Haven Festival of Arts and Ideas, a superb week of theater, music and the arts.

Please contact the Alumni Office for more details (203) 432-3871. Or e-mail James Ebert.


If so, we’d like to hear from you. If you are involved in creating a multi-cultural parish or currently heading or worshipping in one, you may be able to help us with a story we are currently reporting for a future issue of Spectrum. Please contact Tim Townsend at (203) 432-3466 or e-mail him at

May 10, 2003