May 31, 2005

Yale Divinity School celebrated the life and ministry of William Sloane Coffin Jr. with a two-day event at the end of last month. More than 200 Yale graduates who had developed close relationships with Coffin—a Yale alumnus and the university’s chaplain from 1958 to 1975—joined the festivities. Among them were Garry Trudeau, political cartoonist of Doonesbury fame, and Calvin Hill, former football player for Yale and the Dallas Cowboys. The events looked at the past and future of an activist ministry like Coffin’s. One panel remembered the decade in which Coffin was arrested as a “Freedom Rider” on a bus tour opposing racial segregation and led protests against the Vietnam War.

Luther Seminary has named its dean of academic affairs, Richard H. Bliese, as new president of the St. Paul, Minnesota, school, the largest seminary of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Bliese, 49, who is also an associate professor of missions, will begin July 1, succeeding David L. Tiede, who announced in the fall he would retire after 18 years as president and 34 years as a professor of New Testament there. Prior to joining Luther Seminary in 2003, Bliese served as the director of graduate studies and as associate professor of global mission and evangelism at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago.

Baylor University regents elected law professor Bill Underwood interim president unanimously on a first ballot and reelected chairman Will Davis of Austin, who predicted that the university could have a permanent president by September 1. The presidential search committee is ahead of schedule to replace President Robert Sloan, who stepped down to become provost. The regents placed “no limitations” on whether Underwood, former general counsel for the Baptist university, could be considered a candidate himself.

Nellie Moser, the woman behind the popular 34-week Disciple Bible Study series for the United Methodist Publishing House, died May 3 in Nashville. She was 72. More than 1 million people have completed the Bible study program, according to the United Methodist News Service. The series was praised recently by Beverly Gaventa, a New Testament professor at Princeton Theological Seminary and a Century editor at large. “I have yet to hear anything but rave reviews about it,” said Gaventa. “It has become the remedial work for a generation or more that simply didn’t have Sunday school.” Moser had retired in 2003 after 37 years with the publisher.

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