Yale Divinity School Convocation, October 13-17, Features 'Dead Man Walking' Author

Sister Helen Prejean, whose work with death-row inmates was the subject of the Tim Robbins film “Dead Man Walking,” and other distinguished lecturers will be featured at the 1997 Annual Convocation of the Yale Divinity School and Berkeley Divinity School at Yale, Oct. 13-17. Events will take place in Marquand Chapel, Sterling Divinity Quadrangle, 409 Prospect St. The Convocation is free to members of the Yale community with a valid ID. A $25 registration fee for the general public includes all lectures, coffee breaks and receptions. Walk-in registrants are welcome.

Key speakers include the noted author and preacher Barbara Brown Taylor; religious scholars Jurgen Moltmann and Albert Raboteau; the Rt. Rev. Mark Dyer, a leader in the Anglican Church; Professor Harold Hongju Koh of Yale Law School; and medical ethicist James Childress of the University of Virginia.

“This Convocation is not only rich in religious scholarship, it has broad appeal for the community at large,” says Divinity School Dean Richard Wood. “It is one way in which the Yale Divinity School fulfills its mission of preparing and serving a learned – and learning – clergy while being a good steward of its relationship with the University and the community. In a span of four days, this Convocation calls us to consider the power of the Word in preaching; to rethink the nature of Christian theology; to encounter the moral and ethical questions of life and death in human cloning and capital punishment; and to delve into the social and cultural complexities of African-American religious history and international human rights law enforcement. I sincerely hope that all sectors of the community will join in this feast.”

The centerpiece of the Convocation will be three Lyman Beecher Lectures, given this year by Barbara Brown Taylor. In a Baylor University survey of preachers and editors of the religious press, the Rev. Taylor has been listed among the 12 most effective preachers in the English-speaking world. Founded in 1871, the Beecher lectureship is the longest-running lecture series on preaching and the work of the ministry in the United States. It is considered to be one of the most prestigious speaking invitations in religious scholarship. The lectures, titled “Famine in the Land: Homiletical Restraint and the Silence of God,” will be given at 4 p.m. in Marquand Chapel on Oct. 13, 14, and 15. The Rev. Taylor will also receive an honorary degree from the Berkeley Divinity School at Yale during the Evensong service at 5:30 p.m. on Oct. 14.

The Yale Divinity School will continue its tradition of morning worship in Marquand Chapel, with services at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of the Convocation week.

Monday, Oct. 13

At 8 p.m. the Right Reverend Mark Dyer will speak on “Lambeth and the Future of the Anglican Communion.” Bishop Dyer is chair of the Editorial Committee of the Design Group for the Lambeth Conference, which meets every 10 years to determine the course of the Anglican Church; the work of his committee will serve as the basis for discussion at the 1998 Lambeth Conference to be held in Canterbury, England.

Tuesday, Oct. 14

Professor Jurgen Moltmann of the University of Tubingen, Germany, will deliver the first two installments of the three-part Taylor Lecture series, “What is Theology?” at 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Professor Moltmann began the study of theology and philosophy as a prisoner of war in England in 1946. Since 1967 he has written and lectured extensively on systematic theology and the theological elements of hope, joy, liberation, the power of the Spirit, and spiritual life.

At 5:30 p.m. former Yale Divinity School faculty member Ellen Davis will return to Marquand Chapel to preach in the Evensong service. At this time the Berkeley Divinity School at Yale will confer honorary degrees upon Bishop Herbert Thompson; Barbara Brown Taylor; Boone Porter, architect of the new Book of Common Prayer; and Eunice Groark, former lieutenant governor of the State of Connecticut.

Wednesday, Oct. 15

Professor Moltmann will conclude his series of lectures at 10 a.m.

Sister Helen Prejean, whose ministry among inmates on Louisiana’s death row was the subject of her 1993 book, “Dead Man Walking,” and of the film of the same name starring Susan Sarandon, will deliver the Ensign Lecture at 1:30 p.m. A member of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Medaille, Sister Helen writes and lectures against capital punishment. She ministers to murder victims’ families and has helped to found Survive, a victims’ rights advocacy group in New Orleans.

Thursday, Oct. 16

Yale Law School Professor Harold Hongju Koh will deliver the Bartlett Lecture titled “How is International Human Rights Law Enforced?” at 10 a.m. Professor Koh has written more than 70 articles on international, foreign relations, and constitutional law. In 1997, The American Lawyer named him one of America’s 45 leading public sector lawyers under the age of 45. He is currently working on a book tentatively called “Why Nations Obey: A Theory of Compliance with International Law.”

Yale University Religious Studies alumnus Albert Raboteau will deliver the Bainton lecture, titled “In Search of Common Ground: Howard Thurman and the Religious Community,” at 1:30 p.m. Professor Raboteau writes and lectures on African-American religious history, slavery, African-American life and culture in the United States, and religion and nationalism in America. He has been instrumental in preserving African-American history through publications and lectures.

A prolific writer and lecturer on religious and medical ethics, bioethics and civil disobedience, Professor James Childress will deliver the Sorensen Lecture on “Religion and Public Policy: The Controversy about Human Cloning” at 4 p.m. Professor Childress is the Kyle Professor of Religious Studies and professor of medical education at the University of Virginia. His best known work, “Who Shall Live When Not All Can Live?” appeared in 18 publications from 1970 through 1996.

For further information, contact the Office of Graduate and External Relations at Yale Divinity School, 203 432-5568.

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Media Contact

Gila Reinstein: gila.reinstein@yale.edu, 203-432-1325