Alumni/ae, staff, students and friends participated in a two-day event at United October 16 and 17, celebrating with fellowship, recognition and learning.
The J. Arthur Heck Lectures featured reunion lunches and the Alumni/ae Banquet, as well as lectures on “Christians and Disability: Renewing the Church and Healing the World” from Dr. Amos Yong, a J. Rodman Williams Professor of Theology at Regent University School of Divinity in Virginia Beach, VA.
Tuesday, October 16 was marked with the Decades Reunion Lunches with the classes of ’42, ’52, ’62, ’72, ’82, ’92 and ’02, as they gathered for food and fellowship and a presentation by Dr. Tom Dozeman on “Holiness and Ordination: The Tension Between Prophet and Priest.”
October 16 also featured the Annual Alumni/ae Awards Banquet, which included a United Sound Reunion Concert and recognition of the reunion classes, as well as the induction of the class of 1972 into Eckels Society. The banquet was also the site for the presentation of the special awards: The Effective Ministry Award to the Revs. James H. and Billie Ann Maynard (1977), the Distinguished Alumnus and Alumna Award to Bishop Gregory G.M. Ingram (1991) and Episcopal Supervisor Jessica Kendall Ingram (1994) and the Outstanding Doctor of Ministry Alumna Award to Bishop Allyson D. Nelson Abrams (2005).
The events continued through Wednesday with lectures by Dr. Yong. Dr. Yong’s lectures concentrated on Christians and disability, and before his first lecture of the day, Dr. Yong noted his connection to Theology and Disability – his younger brother, Mark, has Down’s Syndrome.
“I grew up with Mark, and as you would imagine, there were a lot of complications with his life growing up,” Dr. Yong said. “I took care of him. My parents were ministers in the church and oftentimes they would go about their ministry and their business and I would be the one who would stay home and take care of Mark.”
Dr. Yong noted when he finished his dissertation in Boston, he sent his parents a copy of his dissertation, when his mother suggested he write a book about Mark.
“That was the seed that was sort of planted, and a few years later when I was looking toward my first sabbatical at the time, I began looking into the possibility of writing something theological about disability and reflecting a little bit on my brother’s life and so on,” said Dr. Yong. As I began to look at literature, I realized there was a lot of material out there on ministry, on ministry to people with disabilities, but there was quite a bit less in terms of theological reflection, particularly in terms of trying to think systematically through the issues.”
Dr. Yong’s first lecture, “The Bible and Disability: Redeeming an Ableist Hermeneutic,” was followed by a question-and-answer session with Yong and lecture attendees. He also joined Chapel, where he spoke on “Saved from Shame and Stigma: Shortness of Stature and the Gospel in a Disabled World.” Dr. Yong’s second lecture, “Theology and Disability: Healing an Ableist World,” was in the afternoon and was also followed by a question-and-answer session. Following the Q&A, United hosted a panel discussion on Dr. Yong’s book, The Bible, Disability and the Church: A New Vision of the People of God, featuring responses by Dr. Sarah J. Melcher, Ph.D., Xavier University Department of Theology, and Dr. David Watson, United’s Academic Dean and Vice President for Academic Affairs.
At the end of the day, Dr. Yong participated in a book signing at Cokesbury Bookstore at United.
Dr. Watson recommended Dr. Yong and his work, especially noting his connection with Dr. Yong’s book, Theology and Down’s Syndrome, as well as the book featured in the panel discussion.
“Amos Yong is one of my favorite theologians, and I am really excited we have him here today with us,” said Dr. Watson.
To watch the lecture series, visit our Livestream channel.