"I Have Become a Better Minister, Model, and Man": Why I Chose Yale - Allen Reynolds M.Div '15

Greetings!  Every year we feature short essays from YDS students explaining why they chose to attend Yale.

Today’s comes from Allen Reynolds M.Div '15, who came to us from Howard University in Washington, D.C.  Allen is a magnificent presence on campus.  In addition to leading a robust life of scholarship and ministiry, he is very active in our Yale Divinity Drama group, our Yale Black Seminarians group, and several other campus organizations.  We stand in awe of his ability to bring consistent energy, compassion, and humor to all situations.  He is a key member of our community, and will go on to do great things.  Thanks Allen!


My senior year at Howard University I had no intention of pursuing theological education. I come from a charismatic, non-denominational, Kingdom minded ministry in Chicago’s suburbs and pursuing professional education in order to do the ministry to which I felt called was something I was staunchly opposed to doing.

But God had other plans for me.

Someone asked me that December what I wanted to do after graduation and I realized I would be living unfulfilled if I just went to work in the media business, even though Media Production was my major. I said “Well…I want to teach…I want to preach, I feel called to be a leader of leaders…I guess I’ll go to divinity school.”

Then I got what we call confirmation in my tradition. It turned out that Howard’s Dean of the Chapel Dr. Bernard Richardson, one of my mentors, both of the professors who taught me religious studies classes at Howard, and even my youth pastor from when I was 10 were all Yale alumni. I was reading a book at the time that was talking about revival at Yale during the 1st Great Awakening in the 1700s, I had debated Yale’s debate team every year while in undergrad.  I even had a minister at my church tell me they saw me in the Ivy League while I was still at Howard. I had what Prof. Tom Troeger called “the shepherd experience” from Luke’s gospel. The angels showed up bright and loud and the enunciation was clear. All signs were pointing to YDS and I decided to go where the Lord was sending me. 

I came to YDS believing that God was doing something amazing here, that the world would be impacted by what was happening in this moment on campus. I believed that in the midst of so much change in our world and on our campus that God was shaping leaders for the future of the church and world, leaders to serve God’s people and walk out God’s purposes. 

Being here I received confirmation again. The beginnings of revival have been my visible reality during my three years here. This is the place where amazing people come to encounter amazing faculty, staff, and one another in preparation to be global leaders. I have not had a class I did not enjoy here, which is incredible. I have had opportunities to start two organizations, lead two others, and serve as a catalyst in this community. I have new role models, from Nora Tubbs Tisdale to Lamin Sanneh, who have caused me to see my faith and the world differently. I have become a better minister, model, and man. And I have friends, colleagues, and a network that will help sustain me and encourage me as I continue this awesome journey of ministry. I am grateful to God for my experience at Yale Divinity School, through all the trials and triumphs.

I would say to anyone considering YDS: Be prayerful and discern whether God is leading you here. It is a community with challenges like any other, where we all wrestle with God together; the struggle is real here.  But I truly believe that eyes have not seen, nor ears heard, nor has it entered in the hearts of people the great things that God will do through YDS in the future.