Right to Life Fellowship Yale Divinity School End-of-Year Report 2010-2011
A New Voice
A Message from the President of the Right to Life Fellowship !
Mission Statement of the Right to Life Fellowship
Accomplishments ! March for Life ! Constitution Committee Reform ! Dinner and Dialogue over Capital Punishment ! Life-Affirming Pregnancy Workshop ! Pro-Life Rosary ! Right to Life Fellowship Blog
Reflections ! Juliette Jeanfreau 始13 ! Josh McCormick 始12 ! Eric Gregory, Vice President 始13
Budget Proposal 2011-2012
At Yale Divinity School
A New Voice... ! As I reflect on the title of this end-of-year Report, A New Voice, I am amazed at the first year that weĘźve had, if for no other reason than that we actually have not been an official student group for the entire length of the academic year, yet we have been able to accomplish so much. The Right to Life Fellowship was officially recognized by the Community Life Committee, a standing committee of the General Faculty of the Divinity School, in November of 2010. In the span of just five months, we have done an extraordinary number of events (as you will soon see as you explore this report): We sponsored a trip to the national March for Life in Washington D.C. in January 2011; we hosted a Dinner and Dialogue Event over the topic of Capital Punishment with a guest speaker from the Connecticut Network to Abolish the Death Penalty (CNADP); we sponsored a Life-Affirming Pregnancy Advocacy Workshop with two co-directors from Birthright International, a network of Pro-Life Pregnancy Centers with a branch in nearby Hamden, CT; we assisted the Constitution Committee of the Yale Divinity School Student Council as it deliberated about Constitutional reform; and last, but certainly not least, we worked with the Roman Catholic Fellowship to sponsor a Pro-Life Rosary that we conducted in Marquand Chapel during the season of Lent. ! We also have made a tremendous number of friendships as an organization at Yale University. One for which we are most grateful is with the Choose Life at Yale (CLAY) Pro-Life group, an organization composed primarily of undergraduates who also endeavor to discover a way to bring the Pro-Life message of love, compassion, and healing to a world that is greatly in need of it. A second friendship is that with the Hamden branch of the international crisis pregnancy center, Birthright. This particular branch is headed by two women dedicated to helping other women have babies in a world that is turning a deaf ear to the needs of pregnant women and expectant fathers. These friendships, in addition to our individual accomplishments as a group, bode well for us. So as you celebrate the accomplishments
A Message from the President of the Right to Life Fellowship Craig A. Ford, Jr., M.A.R. â€™12 Roman Catholic
of the past with us, I hope that you keep at the forefront of your mind our bright future. ! There is also an aspect of this report to which I would like to add a bit of a personal reflection. While the activities of the Right to Life Fellowship have certainly been unprecedented, they are in no way the reflections of “new” sentiments at Yale Divinity School. If I were to take this observation into account in a more critical way, the title of this report would have to be rendered something like A Louder Voice. Truthfully, what the Right to Life Fellowship has done for Yale Divinity School is to provide a forum where people who already embrace the pro-life ethic can find the strength that lies in numbers to uncover ways of sharing such an ethic with their peers. To many of us, myself included, the issues that the pro-life movement engages have grabbed us by our hearts and have invited us to join in a journey towards creating a world where peace will certainly be the product of justice. The events that we have created for the wider Yale Divinity School community, then, are the products of our heart-felt need to share, explore, and endeavor to create a world in which Christʼs words come to a much needed realization: “I came that they might have life, and have it more abundantly” (Jn. 10:10). ! Every event recognized in the following pages is the product of all of the pro-life voices in our Fellowship. It has been my extreme honor, privilege, and blessing to stand at the head of these voices which are, through our Fellowship, now amplified. As President, I wish to dedicate this report to all of my fellow members, whose presence in this group not only creates its voice, but whose presence also constitutes its very heartbeat.
...In Honor of Life
DS Pro Life Our Mission The Right to Life Fellowship at Yale Divinity School is an ecumenical and interfaith fellowship of students, faculty, staff, and administrators dedicated to defending human life through words and actions, through witness and ministry, and through community activities and spiritual exercises. The Right to Life Fellowship opposes every practice that vitiates the value of human life. We explicitly identify abortion as such a practice. While Christian beliefs, such as the belief that humans are made in the image of God, inform our opposition to abortion, we recognize that other religious and philosophical traditions also support a pro-life ethic. We welcome this diversity as a testament to the fundamental nature of a respect for human life.
Although The Right to Life Fellowship begins by affirming the value of the unborn, it does not end there. We believe that a pro-life ethic must inform our understanding of human value from conception to death. We also seek to discern how a coherent pro-life ethic speaks to issues such as poverty, arms proliferation, war, capital punishment, and the treatment of the elderly.
March for Life 2011 A Reflection by Alex Marshall
I'm not quite sure I knew what I was getting into when I signed on to go with the RTLF to Washington for the annual March for Life and the Bishop O'Connor Conference at Georgetown University. Granted, I probably should have had a better idea given that Craig was behind this shindig, but alas, I was suckered into the weekend adventure. We stayed with a guy named Ace Factor and his roommates. I'm not kidding about the guyâ€™s name. I took a picture of his nameplate as proof. Their home, owned by the Georgetown chapter of the Knights of Columbus, acted as a kind of headquarters for much of the conference. There were guests strewn about the house (we claimed a small room upstairs for our YDS contingent to hide out in), and the emcee of the conference was one of our hosts. The conference itself was well done, I thought. It was also very, very Catholic in flavor. Which is by no means meant as a criticism, but did mean that for yours truly, the lone Protestant in our group (and possibly the conference as a whole), it was a bit of a fish out of water experience. Nevertheless, many of the sessions at the conference were interesting and informative. Something that was quite
A New Voice
impressive about both the conference and the mass later at the National Basilica was the vigor with which issues of life were taken on by this overwhelmingly Catholic crowd. There was certainly a sense of sacredness attached to the issue and an energy and enthusiasm for the movement we were there to represent. The next day at the March itself I think almost every freshman Republican Congressman, fresh off a successful mid-term campaign, wanted to make a "brief" speech to the massive crowds on the mall on which we found ourselves. Eventually our group got antsy and determined it was time to start marching. So we did, and somehow everyone else decided to follow us. Which was a pretty cool deal. Again, the overwhelming sense of the day was the vibrancy and strength of the movement, embodied in the form of a massive wave of people rolling toward the Supreme Court building. It was quite an impressive sight.
at the March for Life
A New Voice... Dinner and Dialogue Over Capital Punishment One of the legacies of the Right to Life Fellowship for the 2010-2011 year will certainly be its hospitality, and, as may perhaps be surprising to some members of the YDS community, its other legacy will be its willingness to engage issues other than abortion. In fact, so resolute was the RTLF’s decision to engage the entire spectrum of the pro-life ethic that it made its first official event involving the entire YDS community a dinner and dialogue over the capital punishment. This event certainly lived up to its name. Upon entering the common room, guests at the dinner found that they were welcomed with cups of wine, handshakes, and warm conversations both with familiar faces and with new faces. Dinner consisted of an impressive selection of options: two different salads, vegetarian lasagna, pork loin, potatoes, green beans, and dinner rolls, followed by an assortment of cheesecakes for dessert. Filled stomaches were not left wanting for an engaging topic of conversation either, since the presentation given by Bo Chamberlin, field organizer for the Connecticut Network to Abolish the Death Penalty (CNADP), entitled, “Doing Justice and Loving Mercy: Capital Punishment and the Sanctity of Life” presented YDS with a powerful array of arguments--economic, political, and moral--- for the abolition of the death penalty. After his 45-minute presentation, nearly thirty people, all representing different communities within Yale University, talked about Bo’s ideas at the four round tables they occupied. (One table remained in conversation one whole hour after the event had ended!) The Right to Life Fellowship cannot wait to do another event like this one in the future. Its success indicates that this will be a productive way not only to engage controversial topics in the future, but also to engage the hungry stomachs of the scholars and ministers that YDS is preparing for the world beyond its walls.
A New Voice on the Student Council:
...For Social Justice
The Right to Life Fellowship and Constitutional Reform All Community-Life Committee groups, as a condition of their acceptance as an official student group, are asked to provide a representative to the Student Council. The RTLF was officially received onto the student council on January 10, 2011. Among issues debated at the time were constitutional reforms that would make the Council more efficient. As a service to the Student Council, the President and the VicePresident of the Right to Life Fellowship prepared an eighteen page report addressing how the Council could become more efficient. After researching the Student Council Constitution and By-laws, examining the minutes of past meetings, and conducting interviews with various administrators and council members, the RTLF determined that the way to accomplish this goal was by creating an agreement between a putative representative of a CLC group to the Council and the elected members of the Council, specifying the actions needed to be on the Council. The RTLF offered this solution in direct contrast to proposals that sought merely to eliminate existing members on the Council with the hope of the Council then becoming more efficient thereafter.
Life-Affirming Pregnancy Advocacy Workshop
A New Voice...
A Reflection by Kate Jackson
On Saturday, March 26, 2011, Denise Romania and Rita Cleary of Birthright spoke to the YDS Right to Life Fellowship and other interested persons about their work as crisis pregnancy counselors. We watched a 20 minute video about the founding of Birthright and then questions followed. From the video, we learned that Birthright started as an organization to support pregnant women. They wanted to provide a safe, non-judgmental space to support women who wanted to keep their babies. Now Birthright is a nation-wide (even international, as there are centers in Canada and Africa) organization which continues to support pregnant women. Run mainly by volunteers, Birthright prides itself on offering friendship to pregnant women. While some centers do provide minimum material assistance, this particular organization views itself primarily as a sounding board for women considering abortion; they offer emotional support for women wanting to be empowered to keep their baby.
A delicious lunch and fellowship followed.
...For Better Options
After the video, students asked questions. Students were interested in Birthright’s non-political stance. Rita explained that politics are complicated and that they see themselves as supporting women one-on-one, not through policy. When asked what Birthright offers as opposed to Planned Parenthood, Rita responded, “friendship.” Rita and Denise gave the Right to Life Fellowship a poster and pregnancy resource list for us to post and share with YDS.
A New Voice in Pro-Life Spirituality The Right to Life Fellowship and the Roman Catholic Fellowship Sponsor a Pro-Life Rosary During Lent 2011 Following up on its mission to engage the pro-life ethic through spiritual exercises, the RTLF approached the Roman Catholic Fellowship with the opportunity to sponsor jointly a weekly praying of the Rosary on every Tuesday during Lent that Divinity School classes were in session. This was an extraordinary opportunity for all of those involved, as it was not only a great way for those who already pray the Rosary to deepen their practice of this devotion, but it was also an excellent opportunity for those not familiar with the Rosary to engage in an ecumenical activity grounded in Pro-Life principles.
A New Voice...
Endeavoring to continue the conversations surrounding the pro-life ethic outside of our planned events, the Right to Life Fellowship created a blog that went live on February 26th, 2011. In almost no-time, the blog was a success! Just in its first four days as an active site, the blog received 220 views, and in its first two months the blog received over 500 views. The blog’s first entry was made by RTLF President Craig Ford, and his post was entitled “We Need Something Better Than This Planned Parenthood.” The post, which was a contribution to the national debate that erupted over the opportunity to remove federal funding from Planned Parenthood, argued that our nation should set its sights, and its monies, on solutions that constructively attack the causes of poverty and injustice that lead women, men, and families to feel that they need abortion instead of placing those funds in the hands of Planned Parenthood. In other words, the act of giving money to an organization like Planned Parenthood, which is founded on a philosophy that believes that abortion-on-demand is necessary, ultimately does not help our nation rise above the structures of injustice that lead many women to abortion. As Ford writes with great compassion, “We must be a people of hope and courage to bring about a just reality, a reality in which there are no victims of abortion---women, men, and unborn children included.” The vision for the blog is even more expansive than one that simply serves as a forum to articulate beliefs about the morality of abortion. In upcoming semesters, members of the RTLF will engage the pro-life ethic in creative ways, touching on many of the issues that are also included in our mission statement. The blog will also serve as a mechanism to celebrate our accomplishments, publicize our events, and keep YDS alumni in the loop about what we believe should be of concern both to those inside the YDS community and to those outside the YDS community. Join the conversation at http://ydsrighttolifefellowship.wordpress.com.
...On the Internet
Financial Report 2010-2011: A Year of Growth $200.00
YDS Community Life Committee Private Donations
Total Revenue: $2463.78 Balance into Fiscal Year 2011-2012: $296.21 $324.36 $409.36
$9.00 $99.00 $164.85
March for Life Miscellaneous Dinner and Dialogue: Capital Punishment Pro-Life Rosary Crisis Pregnancy Advocacy Workshop End-of-Year Report
Total Expenses: $2167.57 *Fiscal Year 2010-2011 ended on 31 March 2011
In February, a Yale alumna who was a founding member of CLAY, the undergraduate pro-life organization, contacted me with excitement about the activities of the Right to Life Fellowship. I was truly delighted that she had heard about our organization, and her excitement reminded me that our presence at the divinity school will affect, and is affecting, both alumni and future students. The Right to Life Fellowship has taken a running start, and I hope that our witness at YDS will provide encouragement and support to all those who pass through the doors.
In addition to providing a safe context in which to learn about and discuss a pro-life ethic, the Right to Life Fellowship has also drawn together a community of people who both support and challenge each other in the articulation and practice of their beliefs. It has been incredibly valuable to be a part of an intellectual pro-life community —and especially in a setting where we hold minority views.
! Participating in the YDS Right to Life Fellowship has certainly been a blessing. After having attended Catholic school for nearly 15 years, I found myself in a university environment where abortion was simply not talked about. I questioned my own ability to articulate my opposition to abortion, and I became complacent with keeping my pro-life beliefs private. When I entered YDS, I was thrilled to meet a group of people who shared my beliefs and were interested in forming a student group. What began as an opportunity to simply learn to talk about abortion has become so much more over a period of just several months. A nascent interest in articulating my own belief system has transformed into what I understand as a responsibility to both fully embody as well as to share the pro-life ethic with my current community.
M. Div., ’13
! If the sanctity of human life were only an intellectual question, there would be little need for a group like Right to Life. It only takes one person to be right. Company might be nice, but it's hardly necessary. However, I am convinced that the sanctity of human life is much more than an intellectual question. It is a question that asks us what sort of people we are, and that is not a question we can answer alone. None of us can say who we are apart from the communities that have nurtured and shaped us. More importantly, none of us can be who we are apart from those communities which continue to nurture and shape us. Humans are social animals. ! I believe that human life is sacred, but that is only a belief. If I am to make my life an answer to the claim of my neighbor, if I am to make my life good news for the woman on death row, and the unborn child, and my cousin with Down syndrome, and the crippled man who sells plastic toys on his hands and knees in front of the Royal Cafe in Lucknow, India--if I am going to make my life good news for them--I need a community. I need a community that knows and expresses the sacredness of life in its practices. ! YDS Right to Life is not a monolithic group, and if we treated the sanctity of life like an intellectual question, we might not be a group at all. While we reach similar conclusions, the ways in which we reach those conclusions often have little in common-perhaps too little to hold us together. But as a community that is committed to becoming a certain sort of people, we can embody and sustain practices which affirm that life is a divine gift. Together we can do the quiet and unassuming work of prayer. Together we can learn how to speak hope to a young mother who has been told that abortion is her only hope. Together we can dare to be a visible community, a people who dare to say that all are welcome--the murderer who deserves to die, the unborn child who has been diagnosed with Down syndrome, the grandmother whose mind has been enervated by Alzheimer's--for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.
Eric Gregory Vice President, Right to Life Fellowship Episcopalian What does it mean to support a "right to life" at Yale Divinity School?
Notice what these actions can occasionally forget: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. If we, as Christians, are to exhibit the fruits of the Spirit of God, we cannot be involved in the activities that diminish the lives of others in our efforts to clamor for the right to life for the unborn. We must consider, in a holistic sense, what it means to be an advocate for life. For the YDS Right To Life Fellowship, this goal looks like a reframing of the "pro-life" perspective from a stance that is merely indicative of negative sentiments (e.g. antiabortion, anti-war, anti-capital punishment, etc.) to one that renders those statements in a more positive light because we are dedicated champions for a respect of life in all its aspects. And we disagree on how best to do that. Some of us are passionate about seeing Roe v. Wade and any other court ruling or legislation in support of abortion overturned. Others of us have a desire to work within the broken system as it's been handed on to us - in crisis pregnancy centers, as chaplains, by "sidewalk counseling," etc. Some of us believe all war is contrary to a pro-life ethic, and others of us understand that there might be cases where the use of force can be "just" and ought to be exercised virtuously. Some of us are committed to ending the death penalty in the United States, but reasons for that position differ: from the wholesale rejection of execution as a method of punishment to a call to halt a practice that has become prejudiced with respect to race and socio-economic status. So, returning to the original question: What does it mean to support a "right to life" at Yale Divinity School? One size certainly does not fit all for our group, and we are by no means a "single issue" organization (evidenced by the events we held this year, and those we hope to sponsor during the next school year), but the unifying commitment for the YDS Right To Life Fellowship is the desire to be a voice in the storm of the (post-) modern world, constantly remembering to our friends on campus, and to others, that the Jesus we serve came that all people might have life abundantly. And then to do something about it.
M. Div., â€™13
For me, it's not about being pro-life in a political sense. I often shy away from the label "pro-life" because of the negative connotations it has held within the political arena. The scenarios that the term tends to conjure up include evacuations of abortion clinics because of bomb threats, vitriolic propaganda, a lack of compassion for those who have gone through the trauma of abortion, and more attempts to change a Supreme Court ruling than to change the hearts of others.
Budget Proposal: 2011-2012 22%
Estimated Total Need for 2011-2012: $3039
4% 3% 1%
Abortion and Feminism Series March for Life Pro-Life Rosary Special Event (Spring--TBA) Operation Mom: Campaign for Pro-Life Pregnancy Centers Dinner and Dialogue (Spring) End-of Year Report
Abortion and Feminism: $668 ! Speaker from Feminists for Life: $400 ! !
Dinner and Dialogue over Abortion and Feminism: $250 Publicity: $18
March for Life: $1710 ! Transportation: $172 (=0.14 rate x 612 miles x 2 cars) ! ! ! !
Tolls: $120 (=$30 estimate x 2 (roundtrip) x 2 cars) Pro-Life Conference: $200 (=10 people x $20 fee) Housing: $1200 (=5 rooms/ 2 people each x $120 rate x 2 nights) Publicity: $18
Dinner and Dialogue (Spring): $268 ! Dinner and Dialogue: $250 !
Operation Mom: Campaign for Pro-Life Pregnancy Centers: $120 ! Publicity: $18 !
Concluding Banquet: $100
Pro-Life Rosary: $48 ! Publicity: $18 !
Special Event (Spring--TBA): $78 ! !
Publicity: $18 Lunch: $60
End-of-Year Report 2011-2011: $165
Donors Saint Thomas More The Catholic Chapel and Center at Yale The Right to Life Fellowship gratefully acknowledges the help of the following persons and organizations for their financial support:
The Knights of Columbus Mr. Michael Fletcher Mr. Adam Sims Our Anonymous Donors The Yale Divinity School Community Life Committee
Acknowledgments End-of-Year Report Design: Craig A. Ford, Jr. Contributors: Joshua McCormick, Juliette Jeanfreau, Eric Gregory, Alex Marshall, Kate Jackson, and Craig A. Ford, Jr. Photographs on cover page and pages 1, 7, and 8: Mr. Philip Ellsworth Photographs on page 11: Mr. Eric Gregory Photographs on 2, 14: Mr. Craig A. Ford, Jr. Photographs on 5, 17, 19, 23: Mr. Sean McAvoy Photograph on 18: Mr. Josh McCormick
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DS Pro Life