Chaplain to step down from post

For the first time in a decade and in a half, the chaplaincy at Yale will sport a new face next fall.

University Chaplain Rev. Frederick Streets, who has served as the head of the Chaplain’s Office for nearly 15 years and an adjunct professor at the Divinity School for 19, will not be reappointed for a fourth five-year term in the spring, Yale President Richard Levin said. The University is currently searching for a new chaplain and will begin reviewing applications next month, with the new appointee assuming the position next July.

“He has been very involved in connecting Yale to the community and also serves as a wonderful counselor to students in need,” Levin said of Streets. “[Fifteen years] is a very long period of service, and we are very grateful for his time here.”

The reappointment comes as a part of a planned term limit for the chaplaincy, which Levin had discussed during the past term, Streets said. Streets said Levin has wanted to treat the position of chaplain like a residential college deanship in which new appointees would take office every 10 to 15 years.

Streets’ departure comes on the heels of Battell Chapel’s controversial separation from the United Church of Christ last year. The split was approved by Yale officials as part of an effort to cater to a religiously diverse student body, which also includes the Chaplain’s Office-sponsored Multifaith Council. These steps away from a more traditional affiliation have elicited mixed reactions from some former UCC members who wanted the University to retain its 200-year-old Congregationalist affiliation.

Streets said he has enjoyed his time at Yale, particularly because of the value the University has placed on the role of the Chaplain’s Office.

“It’s been a pleasure and an honor to serve in this role for 15 years,” Streets said. “Yale has a good reputation for taking a more holistic view of a student.”

For the rest of the academic year, Streets will still be responsible for running the Chaplain’s Office and its programs, and for collaborating with Yale Religious Ministries, the umbrella organization for all religious groups on campus.

Battell student deacon Tyler Guth ’08 said Streets brought a unique face to campus religious ministries while serving through a restructuring to incorporate more diverse faith traditions.

“He’s a great guy,” Guth said. “ He had a vision for the church … he saw it true to the end.”

Yale Students for Christ staff worker Matthew Coburn, who often collaborates with the Chaplain’s Office, said he has appreciated Streets’ skill in working with different groups as he balanced the challenges of hosting the many religious groups at Yale.

“I’m thankful for as much support and collegiality as we have had at YRM,” Coburn said. “Jerry has been very welcoming to me personally.”

Streets said his focus as a chaplain has been to navigate the challenges found in a world where different religions have become increasingly important in the political and cultural spheres. He said integrating the often polarized areas of reason and spirituality has also been important to his chaplaincy.

“For me it’s been important to create more than a tolerance, but a deep respect for different forms of religious expression on campus,” Streets said. “If the University is not a sentinel for democracy, then where else will we find it?”

Levin said Streets has played a major role in the lives of Yale students and in the Elm City.

“Reverend Streets has been a wonderful chaplain and a great force for tolerance and understanding within the Yale community and between Yale and New Haven,” he said.

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