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eSpire Newsletter
Volume 1, Issue 2 - December 2009

Moments of Integration
Viki Matson
Last year in one of the congregations on the thee-point charge that Tom was serving, there was a terrible accident.  A 45-year old woman, wife, mother of two, pillar in the church, was broadsided by a logging truck on a rainy day as she was on her way home from work.  She was life-flighted from rural Tennessee to Vanderbilt, and there was a stretch of weeks last spring when Tom would visit her every day in the hospital, in between his classes at the Divinity School.  In the twinkling of an eye her life, and that of her family and congregation, was changed forever as she will be many years in recovery from the massive injuries she sustained.
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Remembering the Stories of Our Past
Reunion and Homecoming 2009
Alumni/ae came from as far away as Minnesota. They reminisced about their classmates and the professors that meant the most. We heard stories about Professors Nels Ferre, Langdon Gilkey, and Herman Norton. We also heard about alumni/ae, like Lorene Sharp White, BA ’67, MDiv ’75, and Michelle Jackson, MDiv ’03. Alumni/ae who were at Vanderbilt Divinity School during the “the Lawson Affair” recalled the tension and indecision at the time. The ministry students in the late 1950s and early 1960s wanted to support Reverend James Lawson by walking out in protest. Others wanted to stay and keep the School open.

On Thursday night and Friday morning, Reverend Lawson gave the Cole Lectures nearly 50 years after he was expelled from the Divinity School. To see the 2009 Cole Lectures, go to Youtube -
Seeking First the Kingdom: The Nashville Story, 1958-1962  and Unfettering Jesus
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Then and Now: 1959 and 2009
The Class of 1959 gathered on October 15, 2009 for a walk down memory lane. Here are photos of the class as they were in 1959 and as they are today.
(See Then and Now photos - Click here)

Legacy Scholarships
Do you know a prospective student whom you would like to recommend to the Divinity School?  Are you already serving as a recommender for an applicant to VDS?

If so, please consider nominating the student for our Legacy Scholarship.  The Legacy Scholarship is awarded to an outstanding entering M.Div. or M.T.S. student on the basis of recommendation by an alumnus/a of Vanderbilt Divinity School, the Graduate Department of Religion, or the Oberlin Graduate School of Theology.  The deadline for nominations is January 15, and the nominees must complete the admission process by January 15.  Each award covers full tuition for a normal academic load and is renewable for up to 84 hours of credit (M.Div.) or 51 hours of credit (M.T.S.) if the holder maintains an average of 3.4 or better. 

To nominate an applicant, please contact the Office of Admissions at 615.343.3963 or by emailing .

Marginalia: To the Least of These
Brynn M. White
“Marginalia” - funny name, serious vision. The inspiration for a homelessness outreach group at VDS started with a calling to go into the margins and enter into community with those facing the harsh realities of life on the streets. What began as a seed of vision has flourished into a growing number of motivated Divinity students eager to make not only a difference in the lives of those they encounter, but to build strong, enduring relationships with Nashville’s homeless brothers and sisters. (more)
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The story of Translation: Then and Now
Mary Beth McSwain
“I want to get to know you… and I really mean it.” These were the words I shared with Michael Flake, a second-year master of divinity student, while at a Vanderbilt football game in October 2007. I was a first-year master of divinity student, and after having six weeks of classes, realized that I did not truly know any person at VDS. I would simply show up for class, take notes, and leave in the afternoon for my work study job. The only interaction I had with other students was surrounded by the anxiety of the first stages of graduate school. These brief conversations revolved around, “What did you get for Dr. Burns’ review question 4?” or “How did you do on A.-J. Levine’s first New Testament exam?” I came to the conclusion at that football game that I would not do three years of just “getting through” my experience at Vanderbilt Divinity School, and neither would Michael. (more)
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Vanderbilt Doctoral Student Wins National Award
November 19, 2009
Jennifer Johnston

Woodrow “Woody” Lucas, a doctoral student at Vanderbilt University’s Owen Graduate School of Management, was one of only two recipients of a Ph.D. Trailblazer Award for 2009 from the National Black MBA Association at the annual meeting in New Orleans.

Lucas received a joint MBA and master of theological studies degree from Vanderbilt in 2007 prior to pursuing his Ph.D. in management at Owen. Lucas grew up in New Jersey, was graduated from Northwestern University with a degree in mathematical methods and social sciences, and worked as a minister and math tutor with at-risk children through the Urban League following graduation.

He has also conducted health services research at the University of Nebraska medical center and is the author of two books, A Book of Rhythm (Publish America) and Insane Joy (Publish America).

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