Imagery of Regent people and campus

Ceremony Celebrates New J. Rodman Williams Chair of Theology

By Sarah H. Dolan | October 28, 2009

L-R: Divinity Dean Dr. Michael Palmer, Dr. Amos Yong
Photo: Charles Eichmann.

In memory and honor of Regent University School of Divinity's beloved faculty member Dr. J. Rodman Williams, the school established the J. Rodman Williams Chair of Theology. On October 22, a warm and heartfelt ceremony commissioned the first holder of the chair—Divinity Professor and Director of the Doctor of Philosophy Program Dr. Amos Yong.

Members of the Williams family attended the ceremony, including Mrs. Williams, who were recognized and honored with flowers.

"This is a glorious day to celebrate legacy," said Vice President of Student Services Dr. Jeff Pittman. "This event is intentionally named a 'celebration.' The J. Rodman Williams Chair of Theology is profoundly important in the life of Regent University, and it will help advance academic traditions at a young institution. Its focal point is scholarship and faith, a blending that speaks volumes of Regent's calling and mission."

Colleagues and friends of Williams paid tribute at the ceremony, sharing personal and professional memories of his life and career. Williams has been recognized as one of the world's preeminent evangelical theologians. He was an accomplished scholar and author and is best known for his writings on renewal theology.

As the newly appointed chair, Yong brings a fresh contribution to Williams' extensive research in the field of renewal theology. At the ceremony, Yong presented his paper on "Disability and the Gifts of the Spirit: Pentecost and the Renewal of the Church," which discusses ideas from Yong's book of the same name.

Yong's insight into the challenges associated between renewal theology and people with physical disabilities has been inspired by his brother, who is in his 30s and has Down syndrome. Yong discussed how the concept of healing can be confusing to the disabled, who often lack a sense of physical wholeness. He concluded that people with disabilities should be included in the center, not borders, of the Christian community and can make important contributions to the study of renewal.

Yong will bring his research to the classroom as the J. Rodman Williams Professor of Theology. Currently, the School of Divinity is raising funds for a scholarship in Williams' name that will go entirely to students who pursue their degree work in the field.

For photos of the ceremony, click here.
Photographer: Charles Eichmann

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