At the annual Academic Convocation of Berkeley Divinity School at Yale on October 11, 2006, honorary doctorates were conferred upon three distinguished recipients that included one bishop; a former CEO turned foreign missionary and congressman; and a medical doctor who inspired the her congregation to engage God's mission globally. The degrees were awarded at an Evensong and in the Marquand Chapel where Washington Bishop John Bryson Chane preached.
Information about the degree conferees follows:
James Elliot Curry was called to a life of teaching and leadership from well before the time of your ordination in the Episcopal Church in1985.
Born in Oak Park, Illinois, and raised in the United Church of Christ, Curry found a call in his love of teaching children. Earning a Bachelor of Arts at Amherst College and later a Master of Education at the University of Massachusetts, he taught elementary schoolchildren in Huntington, Massachusetts. His intellectual and spiritual pilgrimage brought him to the Episcopal Church, and he found a parish home in Saint Mary's Church, Enfield Connecticut.
Upon graduation from Berkeley Divinity School in 1985, Curry entered parish ministry as Curate in Trinity Church, Torrington Connecticut. In 1988, he was called as Rector of Trinity Church, Portland Connecticut, where he served for ten years. Bishop Clarence Coleridge called Curry to serve as his Canon to the Ordinary in 1998. The Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut elected Curry Bishop Suffragan in June 2000.
Curry's passion for social justice led you to be a founding member of "Bishops Working for a Just Society." To know and minister better Episcopalians of Hispanic cultures and language, he has dedicated significant time to Spanish language study in Central America. In addition, through his travels to Africa you are building strong ties within the Anglican Communion between the Diocese of Lebombo in southern Mozambique and Connecticut.
Amory Houghton, Jr. has infused his life's path with the power of faith. At St. Paul's School his theology matured to an intense desire to serve The Episcopal Church. As CEO of Corning, Inc. he led this company, which was founded by your family in 1851, to world preeminence in glass and ceramics technology, including photonics and especially fiber optics. Between his career at Corning and his election to Congress from the 29th District in New York in 1986, he felt called to become an Anglican missionary in Africa, corralling his CEO counterparts to help resurrect the Anglican Daramombe Mission in Zimbabwe, destroyed in civil war. Persuaded by others that he could better help Africans and all people in need as a US political leader, he subsequently served 18 years in Congress with powerful positions on the House Ways and Means and International Relations Committees. He enacted constructive legislation that helped people, the people of his hometown, the people of his state, the people of his country, and the people of Africa and the world.
Upon your retirement from Congress last year he articulated his priorities as follows: the Episcopal Church, the people of Corning, New York, and the alleviation of AIDS in Africa. His first retirement post has been as Intern in the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, whose bishop, Thomas Shaw, interned in your Congressional office during your last term -- both of them pursuing the quest to integrate faith and politics toward responsible governmental action that will endure.
Denise Maillett Main, MD was born in New York City but raised in Venezuela and Puerto Rico. Dr. Main was the first class of women admitted to Yale College where she earned honors and answered a call to healing and justice, helping ensure the accurate Spanish translation at Yale-New Haven Hospital that would safeguard women seeking treatment under newly guaranteed reproductive rights. Main and her husband Elliott were the first married couple to be admitted to the University of Vermont School of Medicine, and have raised two children, the youngest just graduated from Yale College. She never failed to heed the call "into regions beyond" as a servant-leader and was a pioneer in the fields of pediatrics, perinatal medicine, high-risk obstetrics, and genetics.
She brought her vision, passion, and courage to bear in addressing the emerging AIDS crisis in Latin America. Where as Senior Warden of St. Stephen's Church, Belvedere, California, she responded to the rector's challenge that her parish "become known for innovative and life-changing social ministries" by organizing a mission trip to San Pedro Sula, Honduras, to help alleviate suffering caused by Hurricane Mitch. While there, she was introduced to a small self-help group of outcast AIDS victims given refuge by the Episcopal Church and known as Siempre Unidos ("always united").
On subsequent mission trips, Dr. Main and her companion pilgrims or peregrinos discovered that few of those she had met on your previous visits were still alive: all anyone knew to ask for was "money for coffins." Without the anti-retroviral drugs widely available in the developed world, patients were condemned to a quick and horrible death. Over the next six years, through her cultural and public health savvy, inexhaustible enthusiasm, and professional connections, she developed a response based on the physical, social, and spiritual needs of each person. With the assistance and advice of Padre Pascual Torres, Chancellor of the Diocese of Honduras and Dean of its Seminary, she brought the medical and pastoral AIDS experience of the San Francisco Bay Area to bear in a culturally sensitive way that earned the respect of all who beheld your wise and compassionate commitment. When generic anti-retrovirals finally became available, even the Honduran Government Ministry of Health recognized her work by asking you to oversee two additional government sponsored clinics.
Thanks to her persistence, those who would have died are now living. Moreover, since they have nevertheless typically lost their jobs and been disowned by their families, her latest venture to support their dignity and self-sufficiency is the creation of small machilas or workshops for making clothing items to market in the US and Europe. Her example of faith and compassion has inspired hundreds of others. She has not only shown how one congregation can have an impact on an entire community and nation, but she has given the church a model for announcing the reign of God, bringing light and life as global stewards of the resources entrusted to us.
As one of the eleven accredited seminaries of the Episcopal Church, Berkeley affiliated with Yale Divinity School in 1971, making it the only Episcopal seminary to be fully associated with a major research institution such as Yale University. While Berkeley retains its distinctive Anglican identity and retains an independent board of trustees and administration, its students are admitted by and fully enrolled as members of Yale Divinity School.
Berkeley students are formed by the centrality of daily corporate worship, deliberate attention to the spiritual life, and a concentrated course of study in Anglican history and theology. At the same time, they are incorporated into the rigorous academic program of a divinity school with a world-renowned faculty and library, and also have available to them the full resources of the various professional schools, departments, and extra-curricular programs of the University.