Divinity school

School Notes: Yale Divinity School
May/June 2022

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

Two new scholarships honor pioneering YDS women

A pair of new scholarships honor two towering figures in the history of women at Yale Divinity School—Rena Karefa-Smart ’45BD, the first Black woman to graduate from YDS; and Letty Russell, a pioneering feminist theologian who served on the faculty from 1974 to 2001—and an accomplished alumna, the Rev. Shannon Clarkson ’78MDiv, who was married to the late Russell. An anonymous donor has given funds to establish the Rev. Dr. Rena Weller Karefa-Smart ’45BD Social Justice Endowed Divinity Scholarship. The scholarship will support students who will contribute to the school’s diversity and inclusion commitment and/or pursue careers promoting greater social equity. Also, the Rev. Wilma Reichard ’77MAR, ’79MDiv, has made a gift to create the Letty Russell and Shannon Clarkson ’78MDiv Endowed Divinity Scholarship Fund.

Mother-and-son gift to support new social justice scholarships

Mother and son Jean Wood ’64MAR and Chris Wood ’90 have pledged $250,000 to support ten new annual social justice scholarships at Yale Divinity School. The gift, they say, is the fruit of “many branches” of a family tree dedicated to Christian education and social justice. Their gift will help cover tuition and living expenses for students who receive the scholarships. 

Alum working to support vulnerable mentally ill population

A PhD student at the University of Edinburgh, McKenzie Flowers Fergus ’18MDiv, is working with an NGO in Ghana to support and learn about mentally ill patients in the country’s prayer camps, where patients receive few resources and are commonly chained to objects such as trees and walls. First learning of the prayer camps while conducting research in the Yale Medical School Library, Fergus realized the plight of the mentally ill in Ghana had not been adequately researched, and she set out to better understand it through the lens of public health and religion. She is currently interviewing patients as part of research project for the NGO and her PhD. 

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