Vanderbilt Divinity School Dean Yolanda Pierce is excited to build and strengthen radical collaborations not only with schools and programs across campus, but also within the Nashville community. With a goal of making “radical hospitality” a cornerstone of her tenure, Pierce hosted local clergy members of multiple faith traditions on campus in September for “Community Conversations: Building a Bridge to the Future.” It is one of several outreach efforts the new dean has undertaken this fall.
Pierce shared with the approximately 60 faith leaders gathered at the Divinity School on Sept. 19 that though she is new to Nashville, her life in the church reaches back four generations. She credits her career as a theologian to the many “church mothers” who inspired her faith journey growing up and encouraged her to pursue higher education. Pierce offered the clergy members an open door to the Divinity School, asked for their prayers as she leads the school, and invited them to be in ongoing conversation with her.
Pierce hosted local clergy again for a “Faith and Football” event at Vanderbilt Stadium Sept. 30, when the Commodore football team took on the University of Missouri. At the pre-game tailgate, Pierce and Divinity School staff met with athletics fans and community members and handed out Divinity School swag.
In addition, Pierce served as a liturgist at West End United Methodist Church on Oct. 15 as part of the congregation’s 150th Anniversary Hymn Sing Festival. She was joined by Divinity School alumnus the Rev. Dr. Stephen Handy, senior pastor of McKendree United Methodist Church. West End UMC shares a longstanding relationship with Vanderbilt Divinity School, whose students regularly participate in field education at the church, as well as many historical ties with the university, which is also celebrating its Sesquicentennial in 2023.
For more information about Vanderbilt Divinity School, visit divinity.vanderbilt.edu.