October 19, 2018
Each year, the Andover Newton Spirit of the Hill Award is conferred on an alumna or alumnus who, through the grace of God, display the following characteristics…
• Devotion to renewing church and society through ecumenical witness and creative expression of the Gospel and commitment to enacting God’s ways of justice and love in the world;
• The faith and courage provided by liberating visions that compel them toward thoughtful, compassionate, and timely responses to cultural and religious conflict;
• The ability to respectfully cross borders within and across religious traditions and to help others do the same, thus serving as repairers of the breach;
• Efforts to promote fellowship among Andover Newton graduates and commitment to the school’s mission through contributions of time and energy to the ANTS constituency.
On October 16, 2018, during Alumni/ae Convocation in New Haven, Mark (‘76) and Melissa Heim were honored with this prestigious award. Earlier in the month, during an alumni/ae board meeting, the board voted to confer on Melissa the title of “Honorary Alumna,” as recognition of her presence and impact in our community.
Sarah Drummond offered the following thoughts about Mark and Melissa:
“Mark Heim is known beyond Andover Newton as one of the most important scholars in the world on the theology of religions. His attention to the meaning of Jesus’s crucifixion and resurrection, in comparison with analogous narratives of sacrificial love across religions, has taken him to down into deep caverns in which human beings have tried to make sense of suffering. He has brought back new light from every journey into these depths. Within Andover Newton, Mark is and has been known as a master educator, brilliant theologian, demanding instructor, and clear-eyed institutional lover and critic. Here at YDS, I have seen a new side of him: that of church-planting evangelist, dedicated to relationships and kindness for all in the community and beyond it. In our shared course, the Andover Newton Colloquium: Ministers in the Making, Mark recently taught students that all they do as leaders in churches must be reflective of what “church” means. He embodies that wisdom with his every action.
“Melissa Heim and I lived next door to each other for ten years and hardly knew one another. Now, I cannot imagine my life without her. She sets the table around which the Andover Newton community has come together to create something new. The love that exudes from her, and the thoughtfulness with which she approaches every decision, models to our students that most of what it takes to build community is to create space, and then love, love, and love some more. Last night at Emmaus, Melissa circulated a card to be signed by all for one of our student’s spouses, soon to undergo surgery. The students were fighting over who would get to sign it next, and as I heard them telling one another, “Melissa got this to send around,” I got to eavesdrop on their appreciation for her. If they could take just a fraction of Melissa’s thoughtfulness into their ministries, some churches out there will be lucky indeed.”
Martin Copenhaver reflected:
“Mark and Melissa Heim have contributed profoundly to the life of Andover Newton for decades—first on the hill that was our home in Newton, and now on a different hill that is now our home in New Haven. They are the paterfamilias and materfamilias of Andover Newton Seminary at Yale. They are the model of the kind of servant leaders our school aims to produce. They love the church enough to give it their very best scholarship and devotion. They teach brilliantly in every setting (including the classroom!). They manifest a generosity of spirit that not only opens doors, but also opens hearts. They never lose sight of either the gospel or the needs of students. It is both a joy and an honor to be able to confer upon them the ‘Spirit of the Hill Award.’”
Mark and Melissa received a standing ovation and Mark responded, “While I am humbled and honored to receive this award, I think I was voted in on Melissa’s shirttails.”
Congratulations, Melissa and Mark!