EDS at Union Newsletter | September 2019

EDS at Union Newsletter | September 2019

Categories: EDS at Union, EDS Newsletter

Where Faith and Scholarship Meet to Reimagine the Work of Justice


Having problems viewing this email? View online.

Dear friends,

This summer, I had the privilege of joining the Church of Heavenly Rest in leading students and parishioners on a Civil Rights pilgrimage through Alabama and participating in a Border Prayer Service with members of Central Synagogue. Both of these experiences convinced me even more that we need faith leaders to boldly proclaim the Gospel, in word and deed.

We are living in challenging times, where it seems all too often that “God is not.” It is left for us as faith leaders to show forth through our ministries the loving justice of God.

During The Border Prayer Service at Central Synagogue, a cantor intoned:

It’s not up to me; it’s not up to you,
To finish the work. There is so much to do.
But it is up to us to make a start.
The work can be done if we each do our part.

Each of us has a part to play in this work. As EDS at Union begins its new academic year, we are ever more committed to providing our students with the theological, spiritual and ministerial tools to partner with God in building a just earth.

Just a few days ago, we gathered to watch the newest students add their names to the long list of those who have been part of the EDS legacy. The Episcopal Church and the world needs faith leaders who can reach across denominational and religious lines to do the work of building a just earth. My hope is that each of us renew our commitment to do our part.


The Very Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas
Dean, Episcopal Divinity School at Union

EDS at Union selected No Ashes in the Fire: Coming of Age Black & Free in America by Darnell Moore as its community-wide read. This book is a spiritual autobiography that tracks Moore’s journey from Camden, NJ to Ferguson, MO – including his years at Princeton Theological Seminary.

On the evening of Wednesday, September 18 Darnell Moore gave an address at EDS at Union in addition to a Q&A session and book signing. The event was live-streamed and a recording is available here.

The Rev. Dr. Alison Cheek ’90, who was one of the first female priests in The Episcopal Church and the first to publicly celebrate the Eucharist, died on September 1, 2019, at her home in Brevard, NC. She was 92. “Cheek was one of the Philadelphia Eleven, the first women to be ordained to the priesthood in The Episcopal Church. She and 10 other women were ordained at the Church of the Advocate in Philadelphia on July 29, 1974, two years before the ordination of women was officially authorized by General Convention. The highly controversial ordinations were later affirmed as valid. During a retreat, she experienced a powerful spiritual calling to do something that had never been done before. She heard the voice of God telling her, ‘I want you to be my priest,’ she later told the Chicago Tribune. ‘It was a powerful experience. It’s why I never thought of giving up,’ Cheek said.

Cheek was one of 12 American women selected as Time Magazine’s 1975 Women of the Year, and she was featured on the cover in clerical dress. Later, she completed a Doctor of Ministry at Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, MA, and joined the faculty as director of feminist liberation studies.”  Read the full obituary here.

In June, students and staff from EDS at Union and members of the Church of The Heavenly Rest made a joint pilgrimage to Montgomery, Selma, and Hayneville, AL. Participants visited the Legacy Museum and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, and prayed at the Jonathan Daniels Memorial in Hayneville, AL. On June 21, Dean Douglas facilitated a recorded conversation among students and church leaders on the current relevancy and need for this pilgrimage.

On July 30, 2019, the leaders of the Washington National Cathedral, including Dean Kelly Brown Douglas, released a statement denouncing the ongoing racist and dehumanizing rhetoric coming from the President of the United States. Read the statement and view coverage here.

Former EDS Faculty
on Campus

Dr. Kwok Pui-lan and Dr. Gale A. Yee, both of whom served as distinguished members of the EDS faculty in Cambridge, MA, will speak at Union Theological Seminary on Friday, September 27. They will be participating in “Not Your Model Minority: Diversity in Asian American History and Theology,” a free, half-day conference planned by Union’s Asian-Pacific Islander Caucus. To learn more and to register for the event, please click here.

Telling the Story of Jonathan Daniels and Ruby Sales 

This past June, EDS at Union and members of the Church of the Heavenly Rest visited the Jonathan Daniels Memorial in Hayneville, AL where Dean Douglas recounted the story of both Daniels and Ruby Sales. Watch the video here. The memorial reads: “Jonathan Daniels was murdered near this spot, then Cash’s Store, on August 20, 1965. He gave his life for the integration of the churches and universal voter registration. At the time, he was a divinity student at The Episcopal Theological School in Cambridge, MA.”

A Measure of Justice for
Eric Garner

On the fifth anniversary of the murder of Eric Garner, Dean Douglas spoke with Rev. Fred Davie, Executive VP of Union Theological Seminary and the chair of the Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) for the New York Police Department. They discussed the decision of the Department of Justice to not pursue charges against the NYPD officer who placed Eric Garner in a chokehold, as well as, the next steps for the CCRB in pursuing justice. Rev. Davie later wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post detailing how the CCRB was a critical part of achieving a measure of justice for Eric Garner.

Interfaith Coalition for
Children’s Rights

EDS at Union and Union Theological Seminary are proud to be founding members of the Interfaith Coalition for Children’s Rights which is working against the passage of state and federal policies that allow taxpayer-funded child welfare agencies to turn away otherwise qualified prospective foster parents simply because they do not pass an agency’s religious or moral litmus test. Click here to learn more and become a member.

Dr. Sandra Montes Joins Union as Interim Worship Director!

This Spring, Dr. Sandra T. Montes became the Interim Worship Director for Union Theological Seminary, sharing her talents for leading worship, song, and bilingual liturgy.  Dr. Montes is a sought-after worship leader in The Episcopal Church who has been teaching for 20 years and has experience in bilingual liturgy, ESL teaching, technology and music education. Dean Douglas recently interviewed Dr. Montes on the EDS at Union Now podcast.

50th Anniversary of Stonewall  

A screening of the documentary, “The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson” was held at Union Theological Seminary on June 25, 2019. This film examines the mysterious 1992 death of the Stonewall veteran and beloved Greenwich Village personality Marsha P. Johnson. Following the screening, Dean Douglas moderated a panel of faith leaders and organizers who discussed the intersections of black and transgendered rights and the role of faith communities in the work for LGBTQ inclusion.

The Latest EDS at Union Now Podcast Episodes

  • Exploring No Ashes in the Fire with All Saints Church: Dean Douglas discussed Darnell Moore’s book No Fire in the Ashes with The Rev. Mike Kinman and Juliana Serrano from All Saints Church in Passedina, California. Similar to EDS at Union, All Saints has also selected Moore’s memoir as their community read.
  • Climate Justice with Karenna Gore: Dean Douglas spoke with Karenna Gore, Director of Union’s Center for Earth Ethics. They discussed the moral dimensions of our ecological crisis, how environmental issues are playing out in the presidential primary, and Karenna’s recent New York Times op-ed.
  • A Pilgrimage that Confronts Injustice & Crucifying Realities: Earlier this summer, EDS at Union and the Episcopal Church of the Heavenly Rest made a pilgrimage to Montgomery, Alabama to visit the Legacy Museum and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, our nation’s first memorials dedicated to the legacy of enslaved Black people, those terrorized by lynching and Jim Crow segregation, and the ongoing threat of police violence and mass incarceration to African American men and women. During the pilgrimage, Dean Douglas sat down with Rev. Anne Marie Witchger from the Church of Heavenly Rest, as well as students Carl Adair, Grace Aheron, and Galvin Mathis to discuss their experience on the pilgrimage.
  • Margins Speak with Rev. Dr. Jione Havea – In the latest episode in our series “Margins Speak,” Dr. Joshua Samuel speaks with theologians and activists from the Global South about how they experience and respond to climate change and environmental destruction.

Thank You for Your Support of EDS at Union!

Every student – whether enrolled or graduated – has benefited from the tradition of philanthropic giving to Episcopal Divinity School. Thanks to this generosity, EDS at Union will continue to build on its legacy of transformative theological education, academic excellence, and prophetic thinking. Click here to make your donation or call Miguel Escobar at (212) 280-1569. Checks can be mailed to:

Episcopal Divinity School at Union,
3041 Broadway at Reinhold Niebuhr Place,
New York, NY 10027

Alumni/ae News Updates 

The Rev. Dr. June Boyce-Tillman ’03 is the overall editor of a series of books on Music and Spirituality in the early 21st century. The series, Peter Lang Publishing, explores the relationships between spirituality and music in a variety of traditions and contexts. It addresses the plurality of modern society in the areas of musical style, philosophical and religious beliefs.  The Series gives respect to different positions regarding the place of music both in worship and in the wider society. It includes historical, anthropological, musicological, ethnomusicological, theological and philosophical dimensions.  It encourages multi-disciplinary and cross-disciplinary contributions. Click here for more information.

The Rev. Elaine H. Breckenridge ’87 retired from her most recent full-time position this past March as Priest-in-Charge at St. John the Baptist Church in Lodi, California. After thirty-two years of full-time ministry, she and her husband have now moved to Camano Island, Washington to be near two adult sons, their spouses and one grandchild. She is now serving as a supply priest in the Diocese of Olympia and looking forward to following the Spirit into new possibilities.

The Rev. Dr. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas ’88 is excited about her new book, Rooted and Rising: Voices of Courage in a Time of Climate Crisis, co-edited with Rev. Dr. Leah Schade. The book gathers diverse voices to explore the spiritual perspectives that sustain climate activism. Featuring study questions and spiritual practices, this collection of essays is for everyone concerned about the climate crisis, especially anyone who is grappling with despair. It will be published in November but is available for pre-order. She wrote a blog post supporting Corporate Accountability, “Our planetary cathedral on fire.” Her talks, articles, and sermons are at RevivingCreation.org.

The Rev. Karen A. Campbell ’91 is the rector of Christ Episcopal Church in Sag Harbor, which had an art opening called “Divine Intervention” in early June. The following article notes “This first contemporary art project for the church has brought together 34 artists from the East End and New York City in a blend of installations, paintings, photography, sculpture and artist’s books.” When not serving as rector, she enjoys serving on the Board of the Historical Society for Sag Harbor.

The Rev. Dr. Patrick S. Cheng was appointed Theologian in Residence at St. Thomas Church Fifth Avenue, New York, NY.  In this role, he will have specific responsibility for teaching and/or coordinating all adult Christian formation opportunities, including classes on Sunday mornings and weekday classes, lectures, and other events.

The Rev. Alan L. Kittelson ’86 has retired from St. Paul’s, Vergennes, Vermont, where he has been rector since 2008. He will be moving to the Ozark Mountains near Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

The Rev. Cameron Miller ’80 has been helping Trinity Church, Geneva, NY through an adaptive reuse project in which the congregation moved to a former wine bar in the downtown of this resort city. His second novel, “Thoughtwall Cafe, Espresso in the Third Season of Life” was released in July 2018 and a book of his poetry and essays will be released in July 2020. He publishes a weekly column in the Finger Lakes Times, as well as, his website, subversivepreacher.org. 

The Rev. Cn. Catherine P. Nichols ’83 came out of retirement last winter to serve with three other retired priests as an interim leadership team at St Stephen’s, Middlebury, VT.  The three clergy, all part-time, enjoy sharing the preaching, celebrating, pastoral work, and helping the parish move through this in-between time. She observes, “I’m touched to be back at the parish where I served as rector from ’91-’03.”

The Rev. W. George Scarlett ’71 has begun a new online magazine, “Tomorrow’s Earth Stewards,” which goes public in September.  It is devoted entirely to providing articles and films to help those working with children and teens to nourish their development as earth stewards.  Last winter he completed an annotated bibliography for Oxford Bibliographies on “Spiritual Development in Childhood and Adolescence.” His attention is now on the child-nature connection and their development as earth stewards.

The Rev. Cn. P. Ronald Spann ’70 writes that the Diocese of Vermont is about to consecrate its eleventh bishop, The Rev. Shannon MacVean-Brown on September 28.  “Shannon is the daughter of Ron Spann a student at ETS starting in 1966. Ron spent his ministry in inner-city Detroit. It is from this context Shannon has grown a fullness of heart that propelled her election here on the first ballot.

The Very Rev. Thomas C. Chesterman ’56 is working on the provision of religious programming for the clients of the North Bay Regional Center, which includes his son Timothy. Timothy was relocated out of the Sonoma Developmental Center because of its closure as a money-saving matter by the State of California.  He, like others, is severely handicapped, as well as, intellectually and developmentally disabled – in his case, since birth – and had been at SDC since the age of 9 (he is 54 now). Dean Chesterman is developing worship and spiritual care practices to meet these needs, with worship at the Episcopal Church in Santa Rosa led by the Roman Catholic chaplain at SDC. It’s an exciting experiment for new growth in ministry to this population.

The Rev. Mary Cat Young ’06 became the associate rector for University Ministry at Chapel of the Cross in Chapel Hill, Diocese of North Carolina. She previously served as the diocesan liaison for campus and young adult ministry in the Diocese of New York since 2011. She was recently the chaplain to Canterbury Downtown, serving students from NYU and surrounding campuses in Lower Manhattan.

In Memoriam

The Rev. Alston R. Chace ‘57 of Brewster MA, formerly of Gardner and Swansea, died June 3, 2019. Read the obituary here.

The Rev. Robert E. Daly, Jr. ’69 who was rector of the Episcopal Church of the Messiah in Hamilton for two decades and earlier served several other Maryland parishes, died April 3, 2019, of cancer at the Broadmead retirement community in Cockeysville. Read the obituary here.

The Rev. Fred-Munro Ferguson ‘59 died on July 10, 2019, at the age of 85 in Harwich, Cape Cod, MA. He had served as Curate at St. James, Upper Montclair (1959-60) and Vicar at the former Church of the Transfiguration, North Bergen (1960-62 and 1966-71). Read the obituary here.

The Rev. Rollin B. Norris ‘59, son of Whitten Evens Norris and Carolyn Gallagher Norris, died peacefully on March 27, 2019, after a short bout with lung cancer just a few weeks after his 85th birthday.  Read the obituary here.