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eSpire Newsletter
Volume 1, Issue 1, October 2009

The Jeremiah-Revelation Continuum
James Hudnut-Beumler
Opening Worship
August 26, 2009

Every year I have the honor of preaching at the first worship service of our community's school year. Each year I try, as preachers do everywhere, to find a word from outside that is fitting to this community of learning and faith. This is my tenth such occasion, and in preparation for today I reviewed some past themes for former years. I have preached about the scholar's need to be humble, about the absoluteness of the command to love God and neighbor, even in this community, and on the implications of Jesus' refusal to condemn a woman caught in adultery. I have preached on the mutual recognition of different races and identities and on the duty to overcome Christian anti-Semitism. I have found good news to share in the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament, and even once from the apocryphal Gospel of Thomas. But I've never preached from the book of Revelation.
(read more by clicking here)

Fall 2009 VDS Entering Class
This year’s entering class consisted of 96 students equally divided between men and women, from 29 states and 2 countries. The students’ ages ranged from 22 to 62 years old, with a mean age of 24 years old. Twenty-four percent of the students are ethnic/racial minorities. These students attended 77 different colleges and universities. Thirty-seven students came directly from undergraduate education with a variety of majors from religious studies and philosophy to Italian, international studies and finance. Some students came from exploring their vocation through AmeriCorps, the Episcopal Service Corps, and the Presbyterian Young Adult Volunteer program, while others came from careers in philanthropy, nursing, law, community organizing, consulting and teaching.

Profile - Jen Simon
Hometown: Jackson, Wyoming
Degree Program: MTS (currently, anyway...)
Tell us about your work prior to coming to VDS:
Since graduating from Colorado College, Jen continued the social service and social justice work that she did throughout high school and college as a volunteer. Her interest in this work started during high school when she dropped out for a year out of frustration at the academic program. When she returned to school, she was offered a chance to do a three-month research project sponsored by a National Fellow at the Hoover Institute at Stanford. The research Jen did there, including talking with Milton Friedman and Terry Moe, resonated with her experience as a former dropout and sparked a particular passion for ensuring educational access for all people.
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Student Group Feature: Mosaic
By: Rachael Whitley
Prior to the start of fall semester—even before registering for their first course—a small group of students from the incoming class set out to create a new niche in the Divinity School. With a shared passion for interfaith dialogue, a deep appreciation for the many varieties and expressions of theology in this world, and a hope that through pluralistic experiences, individual convictions will only be strengthened, this group of students came together to form Mosaic.
A student organization determined to bring together individuals from any and all religious traditions, Mosaic seeks to establish a community where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Through sharing culturally, socially, educationally, and by joining hands on service-oriented explorations, students are afforded the opportunity to bridge gaps and create understanding.
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The Gift of Presence: A Guide to Helping Those Who Suffer
Joe. E. Pennel Jr., MDiv.’64, DMin.’77
Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 2009.
pp. 9-11
My vocation as a pastor has drawn me to writing this book. For over forty years I have stood beside those who suffer. I have seen people suffer as a result of illness, broken relationships, moral failure, the loss of a loved one, and the loss of income. These experiences have caused me to reflect on the meaning of suffering in both theoretical and practical ways. The aim of this book is to provide practical yet substantive help for anyone desiring to reach out to family, friends, and strangers who are caught in the tangle of suffering.
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Frank McArthur, BA’64, established a Divinity School scholarship fund in memory of his parents several years ago. The William Duncan and Lestra Kinney Exum McArthur Scholarship benefits a Divinity School student who demonstrates financial need with preference given to a United Methodist student who is interested in pastoral care. Frank attended the Divinity School for a year after he was graduated from Vanderbilt in 1964. Although his career path led him into business in life insurance and estate planning in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, he continues to value his time at the Divinity School as a member of our Board of Visitors. This fall, he serves as the fundraising chair for his 45th reunion. His own gift is designated for the Divinity School and the scholarship fund in his parents' memory. Frank made a significant planned gift commitment along with a five-year pledge for his annual gift. We appreciate his generosity and thoughtful memorial to his parents.

The Reverend Doctor Julius R. Scruggs
The Reverend Doctor Julius R. Scruggs, MDiv.’68, DMin.’75 was elected president of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc., at the 129th annual convention in September. Founded in 1886, the convention is the oldest and largest African American religious convention in the United States with over 7.5 million members. When Reverend Scruggs takes over as president in February, he will work to expand the convention and “strengthen unification.” Read more about the National Baptist Convention and Reverend Scruggs at

Idella Aydlett Harrelson
Our community lost a dear friend when Idella Aydlett Harrelson passed away September 11, 2009, in Winston-Salem, NC. She and her husband of 66 years, Walter Harrelson, lived in Nashville and served Vanderbilt Divinity School from 1960 to 1990. She was a wife, mother, grandmother, and great grandmother who made a home for her family in the many places they lived around the world. Our condolences to Walter and to the Harrelson and Aydlett families for their loss.

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