How to post your reflections, comments, photos, etc.


Read the call for reflections on “How my mind is changing or has changed.”

Scroll down to read reflections from Gary Hart, Burton Cantrell, Phil McKean, Chuck Harper, Eldon Irving, Bartlett Gage, David E.L. Brown, Faye Moon, Joe R. Jones, Betty Dean Gabehart, Hank Doll, Virden Seybold, Robert G. Jones, Robert Calhoun (from 1939), Richard Teaford, Ed Geiger, Reid Huntley, David Wiley, John F. Piper, Jack Wright, Philip McKean, John Samsvick, Charles Cole, W. Brewster Willcox, Donald McCord, and others are forthcoming …

To print all Reflections: Download a PDF document with all 20 Reflections plus Comments received by the day of the Convocation.
       PDF of How my Mind Has Changed – All Reflections to Oc 8 2011

To send your own reflection:
1) Write your comment or reflection in an ordinary MSWord document.
2) If you like, attach a photo or scanned document (any .jpg, .png, ,gif).
3) In the subject line of your email and at the top of your MSWord reflection, write your name and the title of your reflection (e.g. “Bob Smith: The Times are a’Changin'”).
4) Address your email to the website editors.

To comment on or respond to reflections of others, click on Leave a Comment next to their post or at the bottom of most pages.  (Your comment will not appear immediately because it must have our editors’ approval – to avoid spam missives.)

That’s all there is to it.


Reflections online from the YDS Class of 1962

To YDS Class of ’61 members,

The YDS Class of 1962 celebrated their 50th anniversary convocation in October 2012, and they created a “How my mind is changing” blogsite like ours.

You may want to see their reflections, which are openly available at As of January 2013, there are reflections from Larry Minear, Herb Talabere, James W. White, Frederick Trost, Jim Halfaker, Bill Barnes, John Kelley, Harry Baker Adams, Wendy Richardson, Larry Young, Ron Byars, Don Veglahn, Betty Dean Gabehart, and Jack Allan Scott.

Regards, Dave Wiley (

How my mind has changed, is changing – Donald McCord

From starting at YDS with a goal to following in my mother’s footsteps and going into teaching – thought I would become a seminary professor – decided after seeing all the really brilliant colleagues at YDS that the road to a Ph.D. might be a more daunting task than I wanted to take on, and the experience with a fantastic pastor family during the three years of field work pointed me more toward the local church and ministries there. Continue reading

How My Mind Has Changed: The Science of Muddling Through-W. Brewster Willcox

I. Discovering the Muddle

Fifty years ago I graduated from Yale Divinity School and set out on a career as a parish pastor.

I did so not as innocently or naïvely as some church members I was soon to serve may have thought me to be; although, to be sure, I had a lot of learning ahead of me within the practice of ministry which would be at least as valuable to me as my seminary preparation.  Continue reading

How My Mind Has Changed – Charles Cole

I am reading or re-reading Berkouwer’s Triumph of Grace in the Theology of Karl Barth, and am struck by how abstract all this theology was, or is. For instance, Barth can talk about election of the Jews without referring to the Holocaust, and neither he nor Bekouwer seem to have the slightest awareness of the revolutions sweeping the world in the fifties and sixties. I don’t think it is possible to work on theology today without grounding it in the materialism, violence, and diffidence that so characterizes this postmodernist era. No one would pay attention. Yet when we were reading Barth and Schleiermacher that first year, we enjoyed immersing ourselves in all their abstractions and Germanic obliqueness. How to get the intellect in touch with reality—that became the problem for a long time.  Continue reading

From Faith to Faith –In Quest of the Gospel – John Samsvick

FROM FAITH TO FAITH –In Quest of the Gospel, by John Samsvick

It was Holy Week 1938. I found myself sitting in the balcony of the Second Congregational Church of Waterbury, enthralled by the spectacle being spread before me. The annual Passion Play, produced by the inspired leadership of the Rev. Dr. John Walker, the quintessential modern liberal pastor of Second Church, tall, strikingly handsome, intelligently articulate, was making an unforgettable and inspiring impression upon this young 12 year old born-again believer in Jesus. However, he couldn’t put out of his mind the admonition his parents offered when he told them of his desire to attend the Passion Play: “They don’t believe that the Lord Jesus died for their sins”.

Continue reading

How my mind has changed and is changing – Philip Frick McKean

“How my mind has changed – and is changing:” from Yale Divinity School, 1958, to Maine and California, 2011 – Philip Frick McKean, Class of 1961, B.D.

A creative suggestion by the Class of ’61 YDS reunion planners –  in particular Chuck Harper and Dave Wiley –  proposed that  members of our class “would have some important reflections to share, if invited”. That insight has turned out to be splendidly accurate, and as I’ve been reading these memoirs I’m at once challenged, amused and deepened by the contributions of fellow classmates about your journeys. Thank you.        Continue reading

Recalling 50 Years – Jack Wright

Fresh from Wesleyan University in 1958 I spent three enjoyable years at YDS. Richard Niebuhr and a course downtown with William Christian were the highlights of my intellectual experience there. I was married in December of that first year and had my first child during my last finals in 1961. I headed off for a small church outside of Tacoma Washington and enjoyed that experience for five years. I especially enjoyed adapting thoughts like those of Bultmann to a rural community.     Continue reading

How my mind has changed – John F. Piper, Jr.

Yale Divinity School was one of the great experiences of my life, our lives, since Margaret shared two years of it with me. There were many life shaping moments, but as I reflect on them they were more confirmations of earlier decisions and experiences, rather than transformations. The transformations had come during my college years at Lafayette College, and not all of them came in the context of campus events. I became a pacifist and registered as a CO well before seminary was even a thought. I received a call to ministry during a summer work camp sponsored by the Methodist Church. That led me to change my curriculum from engineering to history, and to trade calculus for Greek. Continue reading

How my mind has been changed – Dave Wiley

Watching the PBS series on the 10th anniversary of 9/11, I realized how much my mind has been changed by YDS, my career with Africa, the turbulence of our world, and our national fixation on “our enemies.”  Coming out of a childhood in a coal-mining and hard scrabble farming town in Southern Illinois, where most whites were poor and blacks knew their place, and followed by a pre-med BA in a politically conservative all-male college in Indiana, I was changed by the Rockefeller trial year at YDS, the student Christian movements, the New York Times, and a sudden engagement in civil rights work.  Continue reading

Retrospective from Reid Huntley, YDS 1961, M.Div.

How my Mind and Heart Have Been Changing: How Over a LIFETIME My Relationship With THE DIVINE (G–, the Divine Spirit, Jeshua, aka Jesus) HAVE BEEN CHANGING (Deepening, Broadening): Plus How YDS Fits into that LIFETIME Progression.

“I was a good Christian; born and bred in the bosom of the infallible Presbyterian Church. How then could I unite with this wild idolator in worshipping his piece of wood? But what is worship? thought I. Do you suppose now, Ishmael, that the magnanimous God of heaven and earth–pagans and all included–can possibly be jealous of an insignificant bit of black wood? Impossible?  Continue reading

Reflections Y.D.S. ’61 – Ed Geiger

When we graduated from Y.D.S 50 years ago, our country seemed to be on the threshold of a new era. Jack Kennedy had just been elected president bringing fresh vision, energy and hope.  Major cities across the country were in crisis with racial conflict, and international tension was present at many spots across the globe. Yet, positive change seemed possible.  Peggy, my wife now of 53 years, and I moved to Ohio with Bruce and Joanne Klunder. Bruce began a campus ministry at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. I began parish ministry with a small congregation in Barberton just outside Akron.  Continue reading

Reflections on How My Mind Has Changed since YDS – Robert G. Jones

Over the last 50 years both events in the world and experiences in my life have brought substantial changes to my mind’s general outlook, while the basic concerns and ideals that led me to YDS in the first place have proved persistent. In combination, these create a disquiet within me and constrain me to see the world with a more skeptical, questioning and, hopefully, discerning eye. In consequence, my provisional way to make sense of the world we live in is to see the proliferation of greater complexity in every direction of human knowledge, human activity and human experience.    Continue reading

YDS Reunion 2011 – Hank Doll

YDS Reunion 2011

When I graduated from YDS in 1961, I took a job as Foundations Administrator with the Cummins Engine Foundation in Columbus, Indiana. That experience prepared me for a career in the foundation field that included positions at The Cleveland Foundation, The George Gund Foundation and the Nord Family Foundation, all located in the Greater Cleveland area. In the years between foundation jobs, I also worked for Cleveland based non-profit organizations and in the administration of Mayor Carl B. Stokes, Cleveland’s first black mayor.  Continue reading

How My Mind Has Changed, Though My Goal Has Not – Betty Dean Gabehart

In an effort to make sense out of race in my childish pre-school mind, I asked my Mother if all Negro people were Republicans, since we were white and Democrats. There was something incongruent about my Christian education and my experience of observing and hearing about race.  I was trying to put things in either/or boxes to help me understand my sense of justice in the world.  In my small world there were several Protestant churches where I attended many Bible Schools. There was a single Roman Catholic family and a Jewish family.                     Continue reading

Remembrance of Things Past and the Present Discontent – Joe R. Jones

Dear Colleagues of the YDS Class of 1961:

The invitation to members of the YDS Class of 1961 to post on this web site some reflections about early 60s aspirations in relation to the present situation—however we might define ‘the present situation’—is a welcome and forbidding task. Not the least of the forbidding is that this site is unprepared for a book and my classmates are wisely uneager to read such and I am incapable of writing such. So, some notes on traversing from then to now.   Continue reading

A chapter on her life for Korea by Faye P. Moon, YDS ’61

Note from Dave Wiley:  This is a post without Faye Moon’s permission, though all the text is publicly available gratis online.  We have not been able to contact Faye P. Moon, YDS ’61, even though her chapter in a 2006 volume says she has moved back to the U.S. from Korea.  Because her chapter is an important personal statement about the role that she, her husband, and a number of Korean and Korea-focused Christians played in the transition of Korea to a more democratic government, we post herein a quotation from it as a reflection from her life.  At the end of the text is the url to the full text of her chapter on the website of the Korean Democratic Foundation.   Continue reading

How My Mind Has Changed about the Church and Its Ministry – David E. L. Brown

Two years before we entered the Divinity School, Professor Niebuhr published The Purpose of the Church and Its Ministry, in which he called the ministry “The Perplexed Profession.”  He cited confusion over the principal goal of Ministry.  As a solution, he offered what he hoped would become a generally accepted statement of purpose:  the “increase among men [no gender neutrality then] of the love of God and neighbor.”  Unfortunately, Professor Niebuhr’s efforts failed.  While there have been many changes in church life since 1961, there is still no agreement as to the proper work of Ministry.  Indeed, there may be more confusion today than in Professor Niebuhr’s time.   Continue reading

Half a Christian’s Century – Fr. Bartlett W. Gage

          It has been fifty years since I graduated from Yale Divinity School. Twenty-five years before that I was baptized and brought into the Church. For twenty of those years I was reared as a Midwest, middle class Methodist. I was confirmed, knew the creeds and various parts of the Bible. The sacraments were unfamiliar to me. I had no idea what liturgy was. I was blessed with having heard great church music: Handel, Wesley, Bach, etc. Within me there was a longing for God and a sense of reverence about His creation. The doctrines of the incarnation, resurrection, expiation of sins, etc. were abstractions, which seemed to explain things that were obvious, and were intellectually irrelevant. At age seventeen I decided to pursue the ministry. (My minister told me that he would approve that, but that my brother was a far more talented individual!)                         Continue reading

My Faith Journey – Eldon Irving

I was raised in a theologically and socially conservative family in southern Texas. I am told that I was taken to church on a pillow a few days after I was born, which began a lifetime of connection with the church. When I was in high school, my family moved to Seattle, Washington, where I became a member of University Christian Church and graduated from the University of Washington. When I felt the call to the ministry and planned to attend a regional Bible college, my pastor encouraged me to go to Yale Divinity School. This encouragement was one of God’s great gifts to me. Continue reading

How my mind is changing – Chuck Harper

During a time span of nearly sixty years my theological orientation has moved from a childhood inheritance of evangelical Wesleyanism to a position I describe as agnostic Christian mysticism.  YDS is a significant milepost on this journey.  For most of my life poetry has been an important vehicle for the expression of my contemplative theological meanderings.  Thus, a few poems from my most recent book, Making A Life, are incorporated into this narrative. Continue reading

From Burton Cantrell

I am not at all spiritual, but I remain somewhat religious. It seems to me that my ‘spiritual’ experiences are open to complete rational explanation, but I find that religion is an an essential link to understanding history and culture. My understanding of scripture and religious development is approached with intellectual honesty and systematic analysis. My studies in astronomy, physics, and biology are not informed by mystical feelings, with the exception of what Kant called “ever-increasing wonder and awe.” To an extent, this “wonder and awe” satisfies the spiritual depth that once was so much a part of my life. Continue reading

From Gary Hart

Dear Friends and Classmates:

My eventual migration from YDS to the Yale Law School (together with Jack Danforth and Gary Weatherford) reflected my desire to replace service in teaching with public service. As with many of our generation, the 1960 presidential campaign inspired me to want to be engaged in government service. The idea of campaigning for office came much later. The tumultuous 60s and 70s–anti-Vietnam, civil rights, environmental engagement, gender equality, and much else–simply confirmed that choice and made it an interesting time, to say the least, in which to be active in the public arena. I carried with me from home, church, college, and YDS a deep Wesleyan commitment to social justice and that commitment dictated my political and economic beliefs and principles. In 2001 I completed a D.Phil. at Oxford in political theory.

Lee and I celebrated our 53rd wedding anniversary and our two children, Andrea (born at Grace New Haven) and John, are leading highly productive lives here in Colorado. My education and friendships at YDS have been a central influence on my life.

Gary Hart