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Community Life and Services


Every day that classes are in session, there is a community hour when no classes or meetings are held that provides an opportunity for community Christian worship, and for daily community fellowship, which is central to our purpose. This community hour reflects the commitment of YDS to the recognition that theological education encompasses far more than gaining qualifications alone.

Services are held in Marquand Chapel at 10:30 a.m. and last thirty minutes, except on Fridays, when the community takes forty-five minutes to celebrate Eucharist, Holy Communion, or the Lord’s Supper. After each chapel service, coffee is served in the Common Room for the whole community.

Daily worship in Marquand Chapel draws on the many Christian traditions represented at YDS as well as engaging from time to time with the voices of other faiths. The worship planning is highly collaborative and varied, and students, faculty, staff, and visitors are regularly invited to join the team to plan and lead worship. Community singing is central to our worship, supported by student choirs and regular visiting musicians. Sermons are given by faculty, staff, guests, and students, and many other liturgical arts are employed—from dance, to painting, to theater, to poetry.

The Marquand Chapel program is led by the dean of chapel and a team of professional staff. Each year the chapel team also includes a number of student chapel ministers, musicians, and choir directors. Opportunities to join the team are posted each term. The chapel team hosts regular sessions for the community to process their chapel experience, bring feedback and suggestions, and take part in planning services. A worship committee, with representatives from staff, faculty, and students, provides another forum for discussion.

There are other opportunities for worship at YDS—in the Henri Nouwen Chapel on the lower level of the library, and at St. Luke’s Chapel at the Berkeley Center. Services in these chapels are organized by various denominational groups. Daily and weekly worship services offered by Berkeley Divinity School and Andover Newton Seminary at Yale are open to all YDS students.

A rich variety of worship is offered by many religious traditions throughout the University. Yale’s historic University Church at Battell Chapel offers ecumenical Christian Sunday morning worship. The Chaplain’s Office, directed by Yale University Chaplain Sharon M.K. Kugler, offers or coordinates programs of worship and spiritual reflection throughout campus and is a point of contact for connections with all major religious faiths within Yale and throughout New Haven. Resources are listed at http://chaplain.yale.edu.

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YDS Students and Their Passions

Yale Divinity School attracts students with a wide variety of backgrounds and interests. Most are recent college graduates, but a sizeable number are second-career students; many aim to enter the ordained or lay ministries, while others are interested in the life of the academy, the world of nonprofits, or the arts and communications; a majority are affiliated with mainline Protestant denominations, but many are Roman Catholic, some are Jewish, some evangelical, and others have no formal affiliation; a growing number of persons of color populate the student body; and the LGBTQ community has a substantial presence. Mirroring this is a diverse array of activities through which YDS students pursue their passions, creating a palpable energy that permeates the campus on many levels. Activities include those that are linked to the Community Life Committee or Yale Divinity Student Government (see Student Groups and Activities, below) and also those pursued in less formal ways. A few recent examples, past and present: a student-run community garden on campus, focused on organic and sustainable growing methods that encourage a theological appreciation for creation; student-run, contemporary worship services that engage modern themes and music and that are conducive to intercessory prayer and one-on-one sharing; travel abroad to participate in globally significant religious dialogues, such as an International Women’s Day panel at the Vatican on the topic of women’s leadership in Catholicism; small church gatherings in apartments or other informal settings as venues for creative, egalitarian, and progressive worship with communion at the center; DivOut, a fellowship dedicated to the full and equal participation in faith communities and society of persons of all sexual orientations and gender identities; writing about faith, such as poetry enabled under a Ruth Lilly Fellowship, awarded to five young poets nationwide each year, or a book on the Virgin Mary that received a Catholic Press Award for spirituality.

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Libraries and Collections

Yale’s libraries have developed over a period of three centuries. Throughout its history, the University has devoted a significant proportion of its resources to building collections matched by few other universities in the world.

The Yale University Library comprises three central libraries—Sterling Memorial Library, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, and the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Library—and twelve school and department libraries as well as many special collections. Among the largest university libraries in the United States, it includes more than fifteen million volumes and information in all media, ranging from ancient papyri to early printed books to electronic databases. Students have access to the physical collections and study spaces of all the libraries at Yale, as well as to a full array of online and digital resources. For additional information, please visit http://web.library.yale.edu.

The Yale Divinity Library is one of the world’s great theological libraries. It is responsible for building Yale’s research collections in most areas related to the study of Christianity. The Divinity Library has particular strengths in the history of Christianity, biblical studies, and Christian theology (both historical and constructive). Its collections now total more than 550,000 bound volumes, more than 270,000 pieces of microform, and more than 5,000 linear feet of manuscript and archival materials. In addition, the Divinity Library has significant electronic holdings.

The Divinity Library traces its origins to the construction of the Sterling Divinity Quadrangle in 1932. At that time, three collections were moved to the School’s new location at 409 Prospect Street: the Trowbridge Reference Library, the Sneath Library of Religious Education, and the Day Missions Library. With that move, the new Divinity Library began to serve as Yale’s main location for Christian materials in the fields of historical and constructive theology, biblical studies, and church history. These historical collections reflect a tradition of library service that continues today in the Trowbridge Reading Room, the Ministry Resource Center, and the Day Missions Library. (The collections and services of the Ministry Resource Center are described more fully in the chapter Other Curricular Considerations.)

The Day Missions Library is the most distinctive and strongest collection of its kind. It was established in 1891 by George Edward Day, a professor of Hebrew language and literature, and his wife, Olivia Hotchkiss Day. In 1932 the collection included more than 20,000 volumes—about two thirds of the Divinity Library’s original collection. The Day collection has continued to grow over the years, with support from the Day endowment and, since 1981, with income from a fund established by Kenneth Scott Latourette, a professor of missions. The Day Missions Collection today makes up a healthy percentage of the Divinity Library’s volumes and constitutes the bulk of its manuscript and archival collections. Its scope has expanded from a fairly narrow focus on the history of Christian mission to become one of the preeminent collections documenting the thought, history, and practice of world Christianity. The Day Missions Room—one of the most recognizable spaces in the Divinity Quadrangle—is home to a selection of the library’s holdings in the history of Christian mission. Access to manuscripts and archival material, as well as other restricted material, is through the Special Collections Reading Room.

Resources found elsewhere at Yale bearing upon the work of YDS include approximately 100,000 volumes classed as religion in the Sterling Memorial Library, with another 100,000 in the Library Shelving Facility. The wider collections contain a wealth of scholarly periodicals and publications of learned societies, the source material of the Protestant Reformation, Byzantine and Orthodox literature, early Americana, and older books acquired in the past. A primary collection of Mormonism is in the Collection of Western Americana, together with related materials. Other collections important to YDS are Judaica; the American Oriental Society; and the Lowell Mason Collection of Hymnology in the School of Music Library. Early English church history imprints and the James Weldon Johnson Memorial Collection of Negro Arts and Letters are found in the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. There is an excellent collection on Cardinal John Henry Newman and the Tractarian Movement. Christian art is in the Arts Library; archaeology bearing on biblical studies and Christian origins is found in association with archaeology, ancient Near East, and classics. Resources to support the various area programs at Yale—East Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, Africa, Latin America, and Slavic and East European—are invaluable for the study of missions, non-Christian religions and culture, and world Christianity. The collections of the University illustrating the monuments and literature of Assyria and Babylonia are housed in Sterling Memorial Library.

Access to Resources

The Divinity Library provides online access to specialized software, databases, and electronic texts for the study of religion, including the ATLA Religion Database, Catholic Periodical and Literature Index, Old Testament Abstracts, New Testament Abstracts, and Religious and Theological Abstracts. In addition to traditional reference and research support, every student enrolled in the Divinity School is assigned a personal librarian who is ready to assist with any research-related question, problem, or skill. Students are encouraged to contact their personal librarian whenever they need assistance using the library.

The Divinity Library offers a full range of reference and instruction, technology support, and spaces for individual and group study. Scanning and printing services are located in the library. During the term, the library is open Monday to Thursday, 8:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday, 2 to 11 p.m. A campus delivery service for books (Eli Express) and articles and chapters (Scan and Deliver) allows eligible library users to receive materials from other Yale libraries usually within twenty-four to forty-eight hours. Through the Borrow Direct service, the Yale community also has expedited access to the holdings of a consortium of large university libraries. For additional and current information, please consult the library’s website, http://web.library.yale.edu/divinity

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Career Services

The Office of Career Services sponsors a variety of programs designed to help students clarify their vocational calls, learn job search skills and strategies, and develop the documents necessary to find appropriate employment after graduation. Programs aim to meet the interests and needs of students planning ministries and careers in a wide variety of arenas.

Specific programs and services include, but are not limited to, individual career counseling, individual career assessment testing, participation in DivLink’s job posting service, access to a credential file system for storage of reference letters and transcripts, practice interviews, access to career networks involving YDS alumni/ae and other Yale alumni/ae, and production of sermon CDs for future pastors. Other programs are added when possible. All services are available to current students, and many are available to alumni/ae. For appointments, click “request a counseling session” on DivLink, online at https://divinity-yale-csm.symplicity.com/sso/students.

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Office of Lifelong Learning

The Office of Lifelong Learning provides a vibrant array of opportunities for theologically grounded clergy and laity to deepen and extend the understanding and practice of their faith traditions. Heralding an exciting new expression of the School’s traditional mission of service to church and world, Lifelong Learning makes available rich resources that support ministry—equipping programs that build competencies and enriching offerings that promote spiritual formation. The broader community is invited to leverage the abundant intellectual and professional resources of the Office of Lifelong Learning, engaging with YDS in fostering a culture of continuing education.

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Student Book Supply

The Student Book Supply (SBS) has been serving the needs of YDS for more than seventy-five years. It is committed to providing YDS, Yale, and the greater New Haven community with the best in current and classic theological scholarship. In addition to providing textbooks for YDS classes, the SBS stocks more than 12,000 titles for practical ministry, academic study, professional service, and personal devotion. The bookstore also offers officially licensed YDS merchandise and sponsors periodic book signings and author lectures.

Professionally staffed by theologically trained individuals, the SBS maintains the tradition of its earlier life as a student cooperative through its membership discount program. The bookstore actively participates in the wider bookselling community through membership in the American Booksellers Association and the IndieBound independent booksellers association.

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Campus Mailroom

The YDS campus mailroom is located on the first floor of the School’s building, adjacent to the commuter lounge. The sole purpose of the mailroom is to receive and send YDS and University correspondence. YDS is not responsible for receiving or sending personal mail and packages. All members of the community should use their primary home address for all personal mail and package deliveries.

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Student Groups and Activities

YDS students enjoy a rich community life in both the larger University and the School itself. On the YDS campus, life outside the classroom centers on two student-led organizations, the Yale Divinity Student Government (YDSG) and the Community Life Committee (CLC), both of which provide programming to enrich community life among students, faculty, and staff of YDS.

The YDSG leadership is elected each spring term (and fall term, if needed). Through the YDSG, students have an active voice alongside faculty and administration in making decisions affecting the academic and community life of YDS. In addition, the YDSG, in conjunction with the CLC, addresses the needs of the community as they arise each year.

The CLC, under the direction of student coordinators and a committee of students, faculty, and staff, oversees the work and ministry of student groups on campus. In addition, the CLC sponsors three annual events: the Advent Party, Spring Fling, and the All-School Conference (a program of speakers, panel discussions, dinners, and social events focused on a common theme). The CLC also sponsors a series of community dinners during the academic year to provide an opportunity for socializing and the sharing of community concerns.

The student groups and activities all make community life at YDS rich in opportunities for learning, socializing, serving, and giving leadership. In addition, as members of the Yale University graduate and professional student population, YDS students are invited to participate in all appropriate student organizations and activities. YDS students enjoy the nightly social life of GPSCY, the graduate and professional student center located off York Street near the central University campus. Students are involved in leadership of graduate student activities and programs through the Graduate and Professional Student Senate. These venues for socializing and programming enable YDS students to meet and work alongside students from Yale’s other graduate and professional schools.

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The Marquand Chapel Choir and the Marquand Gospel and Inspirational Ensemble are active student organizations under the supervision of faculty members of the Institute of Sacred Music and YDS. The choirs offer anthems and support congregational singing at weekly services. Full rehearsals for the Marquand Chapel Choir are held every Sunday evening from 7 to 9 p.m. Members are selected in early September, with auditions for voice placement. The Gospel and Inspirational Ensemble is led by Mark Miller, lecturer in the Institute of Sacred Music; this choir requires no audition and rehearses for two hours, fortnightly, on a Monday evening. Both choirs may be taken for credit.

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The Roland Bainton Lectureship, inaugurated in 1988, represents the two foci of Professor Bainton’s life and work: church history and the church’s witness to peace and justice.

The Bartlett Lectureship was created in 1986 with a gift from the Reverend Robert M. Bartlett, B.D. 1924, and his wife, Sue Bartlett. The lectureship serves a twofold purpose. The first is to foster knowledge and appreciation of the Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony and their contribution to the religious, intellectual, and political life of America. The second is to encourage understanding of the history and culture of modern China. These two areas, which have commanded interest and attention over many decades, are treated on a rotating basis. In 1992 the Bartletts added to their gift and broadened the scope to include “Democracy, Human Rights, and World Peace.”

The Lyman Beecher Lectureship was founded in 1871 by a gift from Henry W. Sage, of Brooklyn, New York, as a memorial to the great divine whose name it bears, to sponsor an annual series of lectures on a topic appropriate to the work of the ministry.

The Francis X. Cheney Lectureship in Pastoral Theology was established by students and friends to encourage a minister’s proper focus in pastoral care. The lectureship is open to scholars in all disciplines who seek to bring their expertise to bear on this subject. This lecture is given every second year at Berkeley Divinity School, alternating with the Louis Wetherbee Pitt Lectureship.

The Loring Sabin Ensign Lectureship in Contemporary Interpretation of Religious Issues was founded in 1994 by church members and other friends to honor Loring S. Ensign, M.Div. 1951, for his twenty-five years of service as pastor of the Southport Congregational Church (Connecticut).

The Hoskins Visitorship was established in 1967 in memory of Fred Hoskins, B.D. 1932, by gifts from the churches that he served and from individual friends. The Hoskins Visitor is a Christian leader invited to the School to deal particularly with issues that relate to the reform and renewal of the church. This visitorship is given every second year, alternating with the Luccock Visitorship.

The Kavanagh Lecture, presented by the Yale Institute of Sacred Music, is named for the late Professor Emeritus of Liturgics Aidan J. Kavanagh O.S.B., and given in conjunction with Convocation Week at YDS.

The Luccock Visitorship was established in 1963 in memory of Halford E. Luccock, who served as professor in the School from 1928 to 1953, by gifts from alumni and other friends. The Luccock Visitor, usually a parish minister, is invited to spend several days at YDS. This visitorship is given every second year, alternating with the Hoskins Visitorship.

The Parks-King Lectureship commemorates two civil rights activists, Mrs. Rosa Parks and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It was established in 1983 through the efforts of the Yale Black Seminarians. The lecture brings the contributions of African American scholars, social theorists, pastors, and social activists to YDS and to the larger New Haven community.

The Louis Wetherbee Pitt Lectureship was established as a memorial to Dr. Pitt and his wife, Blanche Parmelee Pitt, by his family to provide for lectures by distinguished preachers and world Christians. This lecture is given every second year at Berkeley Divinity School, alternating with the Francis X. Cheney Lectureship.

The Shaffer Lectureship was established in 1929 by a gift from John C. Shaffer of Chicago, Illinois, as a memorial to his son, Kent Shaffer, Ph.D. 1907, to sponsor lectures on the life, character, and teachings of Jesus. This series is given every second year, alternating with the Nathaniel W. Taylor lecture series.

The Margaret Lindquist Sorensen Lectureship was established in 1978 by a gift from her son, Dr. Andrew A. Sorensen, B.D. 1962, to provide an annual lecture on politics and ethics.

The Nathaniel W. Taylor Lectureship in Theology was created in 1902 by a gift from Rebecca Taylor Hatch of Brooklyn, New York, in memory of her father, who was Dwight Professor of Didactic Theology from 1822 to 1858. A series of lectures on some theme in theology is given every second year, alternating with the Shaffer Lecture series.

The Dwight H. Terry Lectureship was established in 1905 by a gift from Dwight H. Terry of Bridgeport, Connecticut, and in 1923 inaugurated lectures on “Religion in the Light of Science and Philosophy.” It is administered by the Yale Office of the Secretary.

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