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Founded by New England Congregationalists concerned with a growing adherence to unitarianism at Harvard, Andover Newton Theological School became the nation’s first graduate institution in 1807. Last July, Andover Newton and Yale Divinity School entered a formal affiliation following two years of experimental partnership.

In preparation for the school’s relocation to Sterling Divinity Quadrangle in the 2018–19 academic year, visiting faculty members and administrators from Andover Newton have settled in New Haven to aid in the transition process.

“It has surprised me how quickly Andover Newton has taken root in this new setting,” said Andover Newton President Rev. Martin Copenhaver DIV ’80. “The administration, faculty, staff and students of the Div School have not only welcomed us; they have made it clear that they understand what we bring as an institution and how grateful they are for our presence among them.”

In addition to easing the transition from Andover Newton’s Massachusetts campus to Yale, these visiting faculty members and administrators are working to “create an educational program in congregational ministry,” according to the Divinity School’s website.

Andover Newton Dean of Faculty Sarah Drummond, one of the original four faculty members to come to Yale in the summer of 2016, told the News that the establishment of a “formal educational program” within the Divinity School’s Master of Divinity degree is a central focus for the transition team.

Drummond added that the new educational program implemented by Andover Newton at Yale will be a boon for students who wish to prepare for ordained ministry.

“The end result [will be] a person who can think like a minister and create the church of the future,” Drummond said. “Andover Newton will be involved in all of these educational practices — teaching, training and cultivating ministerial identity — so that graduates can serve effectively on today’s complex faith community landscape.”

Students looking to join Andover Newton at Yale will have to matriculate to the Divinity School before becoming part of the new congregational leadership programs. They will receive diplomas from the Divinity School upon graduation.

While the future of the Andover Newton–Yale partnership will continue to be defined throughout this “visioning year,” Copenhaver said he is encouraged by the fact that 30 students have already chosen to affiliate with Andover Newton at Yale.

“For the next four to five years, we will be an independent legal entity,” Copenhaver said. “After that period, we may not be independent in that respect, but we will maintain our distinct mission and identity within the wider Div School community. Both Andover Newton and Div School firmly believe that the full potential of this affiliation will only be fully realized if, decades from now, Andover Newton has maintained its distinct identity and continues to fulfill its mission.”

Copenhaver, a Divinity School alumnus, said that Andover Newton leadership has “nothing but high regard for Yale Divinity School and the education students receive there.” He added that the partnership with Andover Newton “enriches the learning environment” at the Divinity School.

Ned Parker, the alumni and development officer at Andover Newton at Yale, told the News that Andover Newton’s mission — to function as an institution “deeply rooted in Christian faith and radically open to what God is doing now” that “educates inspiring leaders for the 21st century” — has an opportunity to take root and flourish in a new setting.

“This partnership is mutually beneficial for both institutions and adds yet more diversity to the Sterling Quadrangle,” Parker said. “We join with Berkeley Divinity School and the Institute for Sacred Music as partners on the quad, and we are committed to join together in this partnership and prepare students for inspiring leadership.”

The Yale Divinity School was established in 1822.

Daniel Dager | daniel.dager@yale.edu