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Austin Cline

Yale Ends Church Affiliation

By April 21, 2005

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Yale University was founded in 1701 by Congregational ministers. The association was transferred to the United Church of Christ in 1961. Today the Yale chapel serves the local community almost exclusively, not the students on campus, so the administration is severing the affiliation and making the chapel non-denominational (but still Protestant).

The New York Times reports:

"I am very upset that the university, in its arrogance, seeks to dissolve this affiliation, when it was the church that founded this university," said Dr. Michael Connair, a resident of Hamden, Conn. He described himself as someone who was born a Catholic but began attending the United Church of Christ three years ago when he found he was "very much in sync" with it..

But Ryan Hickey, a sophomore in the University Chapel Choir, whose members are paid to sing at the church, confirmed what was apparent from Sunday's crowd of about 100 mostly middle-aged people. "Not that many students come," said Mr. Hickey, who is not a congregant. On any given Sunday, he said, the vast majority of Yale students at the chapel are there to sing in the choir.

The senior pastor, an employee of Yale, has told the congregation that nothing substantive will change but they aren't happy. Still, it's strange that members of the local community should feel like they have any claim over what is supposed to be the university's religious affiliation. Students could complain. Alumni could complain. Employees could complain. But why outsiders? The chapel doesn't exist for them, it exists for the students they are guests.

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