Each year, Berkeley Divinity School solicits the support of its friends and alumni for the Annual Fund, which directly supports the School’s educational program. Giving has gone up 25% over the last three years, reaching a record $500,000 in the 2006-07 academic year. We are grateful for such strong support, and continue to encourage your generosity.
The Dean explained the importance of your support as follows, in his most recent letter of appeal:
Soon after William Ladd became Dean of Berkeley Divinity School in 1918, he was caught in a public controversy over his invitation of a Soviet Russian to the School. Facing charges of Bolshevik sympathies, Dean Ladd gave an adamant defense of the School: “Our policy of preparing men [and women] to preach the gospel by giving them the opportunity in the course of their preparation to acquire some knowledge of the world in which they are to preach that gospel, is one which has long prevailed at the School.”
Ladd’s vision that theological education should be deeply conversant with the world which seminarians are preparing to serve set Berkeley Divinity School on a trajectory whose implications continue to define its mission to this day. Indeed, the School’s unique positioning at Yale University—a culmination of Ladd’s great idea—has made it a unique and compelling resource for the ministry of the whole church.
For instance, this fall we launched a “Leadership Initiative” to form students with the character and vision necessary to be articulate, effective pastors. Attending to the challenges of the Anglican Communion, we brought such prominent voices to campus as Archbishop Robin Eames and Senator John Danforth, and our senior class is going to Canterbury to be immersed in historical and global Anglicanism. Addressing the need to cultivate strong congregations, Alan Blanchard of the Church Pension Fund offered a summer course on “Vital Clergy Leadership for Healthy Parishes.” And we are expanding the Annand Program for Spiritual Formation as a cornerstone of our program.
The initiative and passion of our students on behalf of the gospel readily reflects the intention behind these ventures. Students have, for example, this year pledged to help rebuild a school after Hurricane Katrina, and journeyed to Jerusalem as a witness for reconciliation. One recent graduate is working among the poor in El Salvador on a Fullbright scholarship, and another is the new Episcopal Chaplain at Duke University. Closer to home, we have students intentionally preparing for ministry as school and hospital chaplains, as theologians, as parish clergy, as social workers, and as church musicians. In short, Berkeley Divinity School is living in a concrete way into Dean Ladd’s vision that its students should both be grounded in faith, and oriented to the world, that the gospel might effectively be proclaimed therein.
I hope that you will join in making a commitment to the future of our church by supporting Berkeley Divinity School’s proven ability to form new generations of committed clergy and lay leaders. Your support in the past has made possible our present vitality; and your gift now is critical to a strong future.
The Very Rev’d Andrew McGowan
Dean and President