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Message from Dean Gail R. O’Day

We had a whirlwind fall.  In late September we hosted a preaching conference (in partnership with Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of North Carolina) that brought over 300 people to Wait Chapel to learn from three of the most sought-after preachers in the US today—Tom Long, Anna Carter Florence, Luke Powery.  (You can listen to audio of the speakers on our Lecture Series page.) We incorporated this conference into our classes, so that students could fully participate in this one-of-a-kind event.  And that was only the beginning of great guests we had on campus. In one seven day stretch we hosted Richard Cizik, President of the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good, Chris Glaser, a national LGBT religious leader, and a forum on Moral Mondays.  

In February we hosted Nadia Bolz-Weber, a Lutheran pastor and leading voice in the Emerging Church, for a public lecture. (The audio from her lecture is also available online.) Through these events and others we worked to put our commitments to justice, reconciliation, and compassion into practice, while at the same time reflecting the diversity of today’s churches and their leaders. 

Seminaries that Change the World

In November, the Center for Faith and Service named the Wake Forest University School of Divinity one of eighteen Seminaries that Change the World.  The center’s goal is to identify divinity schools that are innovative in promoting community engagement and social justice as part of educating the next generation of religious leaders in an effort to recruit more community engagement minded young people into the ministry.  We are honored to be in the initial class of schools.  Read more about Seminaries that Change the World here.

Wake Will Campaign News

In November we received notification that the three grant proposals we had submitted to national foundations were all successful.   Each of these grants enhances the strategic positioning and educational mission of the School of Divinity and provides funding for one of the key areas of the Wake Will campaign, Leadership and Career Development. 

  • $249, 964 from Lilly Endowment, Inc. for a program in Financial Well-being and Pastoral Leadership.   The School of Divinity is one of 51 schools who have received grants up to $250,000 to address the economic issues facing future ministers (student debt, leading financially challenged congregations, theology of stewardship and money management)
  • $499,997 from Lilly Endowment, Inc. for a leadership development program for early career clergy.  Through this  program, the School of Divinity will  strengthen the pastoral and civic leadership of the most promising early career clergy who serve congregations in cities and towns along the Interstate 40 corridor in North Carolina and adjacent regions of Virginia (Greensboro, NC to Danville, VA, Winston-Salem to Lexington, Asheville to Brevard, Statesville to Hickory). Early career clergy who participate in this project will have opportunities to deepen leadership skills and competencies and to develop a sense of agency around regional issues so that they can assume their place as generative leaders in their larger communities.

Looking Ahead

We have some significant events that are open to the public on the calendar for the spring term. On March 19, food activist and theologian Sara Miles will give a lecture titled “Communion at the Corner Store: Eating in the City of God” from 5:00 – 6:00pm in Wait Chapel. Her lecture is part of an all-day conference, Half the Sky, Half the Earth: A Conference on Women, Food, and Faith, with a stellar line-up of speakers. And as always, our inspiring worship services are every Tuesday and Thursday at 11am in Davis Chapel.

I look forward to seeing each of you on campus soon.  And I hope you will not hesitate to contact me with any thoughts or questions you may have about the School of Divinity.  You are key partners in our work and I value what each of you contributes to our shared enterprise.

Gail R. O’Day
Dean and Professor of New Testament and Preaching