Divinity school

School Notes: Yale Divinity School
May/June 2023

Gregory E. Sterling | http://divinity.yale.edu

Portrait honors first Black woman graduate of YDS

The Divinity School community packed the upper Common Room on February 28 for the unveiling of the newest addition to the constellation of portraits immortalizing a dozen of the most pivotal figures in YDS history: a portrait of Rena Karefa-Smart ’45BD. The first Black woman graduate of YDS, Karefa-Smart was an important figure in the church, academia, and the ecumenical movement. She was the first Black woman to earn a doctor of theology from Harvard and the first female professor to receive tenure at Howard Divinity School. In 1948, she was a leader in the founding of the ecumenical World Council of Churches. Her portrait was painted by current Yale art student Louise Mandumbwa ’24MFA, who was selected from a field of 60 artists vying for the commission. A full story, along with a gallery of photos of the portrait and unveiling, can be found on the YDS website.

Alumni present bicentennial lectures

During this year’s Bicentennial observance, YDS is imagining its future in addition to reflecting on its history. The future orientation was in evidence at special-edition iterations of two endowed lecture series, the Parks-King Lecture and Bartlett Lecture, during February and March. At both, YDS eschewed the usual format—a lone established scholar traveling to New Haven to speak—and instead organized three-person panels of younger alumni scholars to present the lectures, with senior professors from the YDS faculty moderating. Focused on the future of Black theology, the Parks-King Lecture featured panelists Keri Day ’04MAR of Princeton Theological Seminary, Alisha Lola Jones ’07MDiv of the University of Cambridge, and Jeremy L. Williams ’16MDiv of Brite Divinity School. Examining East Asian perspectives on the divine, the Bartlett Lecture panel comprised Haruka Umetsu Cho ’15MDiv of Santa Clara University, Stephanie Wong ’13MDiv of Villanova University, and Peng Yin ’12MAR of the Boston University School of Theology.

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