To the Editor:
One thing conspicuously missing from the recent mud-slide regarding the relationship between Yale Divinity School and Berkeley Divinity School is an account of how much Berkeley contributes to the partnership. The two institutions are deeply entwined, and separating them would be an act of violence against each entity and against Yale University as a whole.
Consider, first of all, that the Masters of Divinity degree –the three-year professional degree offered by Yale Divinity School for those on the path to ordination — is awarded to a large number of Berkeley students. Many, including myself, would not be here if it wasn’t for the unique benefits that the affiliation affords.
Furthermore, any Yale Divinity School student looking for spiritual formation in preparation for ministry will have a hard time finding it without a trip down the hill to Berkeley’s Annand program. Jettisoning Berkeley means decimating the student body of the Divinity School and losing the spiritual resources that Berkeley offers.
The affiliation arrangement is a big draw for Episcopal students looking for the benefits of both a rigorous and ecumenical divinity school and a denominational seminary. Episcopal candidates for ordination need classes on specifically Anglican (Episcopal) history, liturgy, and theology. They also need to be held accountable for their spiritual development and formation for ministry. The Yale-Berkeley affiliation gives Episcopal students these resources otherwise available only at an Episcopal seminary. By doing so, it attracts the brightest and best of the Episcopal Church.
One of the primary issues at stake is the future of the Divinity School. Will it abandon its mission of educating and forming lay and ordained leadership in the church? Certainly Yale could transform the Divinity School into an academic powerhouse for turning out academics adept at turning out more academics. But if Yale wants to continue its original mission of training leaders in the church, then it must continue to balance denomination-specific formation with academically rigorous education. Currently, the only intersection of those two essential functions is Berkeley’s affiliation with Yale.
Abandoning the affiliation is a big step down the slippery road towards a secular Divinity School no longer interested in furthering the love-work of the church. It would mean burning the very soul of Yale on the altar of institutional pride and envy. The forces at work, pulling in both directions, are ancient and powerful. The evolution of Yale is a lesson in how the modern, secular academic atmosphere has been bitter to the faithful — pushing them further and further away from the center, up the hill. At stake in the affiliation is no mere question of accounting procedures or personality conflicts, but a question about the mission and future of the University itself. When you think of Berkeley, then, think of Yale — their futures are entwined.
W. Tay Moss DIV ’03
January 21, 2002
The writer is a student in Berkeley Divinity School.