From the Dean’s Desk

Harold W. Attridge

This issue of Reflections is inspired by a year-long celebration of eight decades of women at Yale Divinity School. The issue both attempts to review the early struggles and triumphs of women in ministry, including developments in feminist theology, and incorporates new voices and directions of discourse for women of faith today.

As women alums returned to YDS for our week of Convocation and Reunions last fall, they shared their stories with us – poignant stories of hope and expectation, stories of frustration and challenge and celebration as they confronted deep-seated prejudices and broke through what looked to be formidable barriers. There were recollections about the handful of brave women students who defied the often- hostile culture of the all-male divinity classroom in the 1930s. Their graduations were but the first steps in their journeys to enter vocations in church and academy, a world that was, at the time, unwilling to imagine or accept the wisdom and leadership of women. As the result of hard-won efforts to remove such obstacles, women today can claim important leadership roles both in congregational life and the wider world. Woman can be proud of what they have accomplished, even as we all ponder the work yet to be done to eliminate the exploitation of women and to achieve full equality.

Among the leaders of change were our first women faculty colleagues, Margaret Farley and the late Letty Russell. Gifted teachers and scholars, they inspired and guided generations of students, both women and men, always engaging the challenge of securing women’s rightful role in church and society and lending vital leadership to nurturing the field of feminist theology. Their spirit presides over this Reflections issue, which Margaret has helped to shape as our guest editor.

Contributors to this volume address a range of issues affecting women today – from matters of war and peace, economic justice, and the role of women in society, to the theological and exegetical foundations of our religious commitment to the rights of women. The contributions include those of faculty, alumnae, and friends who are actively involved around the globe to confront and remedy the structures and attitudes that still oppress our sisters. We hope that this issue of Reflections will both honor the past, while challenging the future.