Posted by: Robert A. Holsapple | November 3, 2009

CA celebrates twenty years with Rev Bev

The Rev. Beverly Dale (“Rev Bev” to those who know her) will be recognized for twenty years of dedicated service to the Christian Association and the University of Pennsylvania community at an open house on Friday, November 6, 2009 from 5:00 – 7:00 at the CA house. The Penn and surrounding Philadelphia communities are invited to join in this celebration in recognition of the central role Rev Bev has played in the conceptualization, development and maintenance of the CA as a voice of progressive Christianity on the campus of Penn.

The passion she exhibits for engaging issues related to social justice, peace, sexuality and reproductive freedom has been and continues to be a driving force for much of the success the CA has experienced over the past two decades. To many who encounter her in the course of her work she appears to have unlimited stores of energy and tremendous insight into the circumstances, needs and mutual interests of others.

Rev Bev was appointed Executive Director by the Board of Directors of the CA in 1989 and was appointed General Minister and President in 2007. She has served throughout as a pastoral and prophetic leader to the CA and a voice for progressive action in the community. She is steadfast in her dedication to alleviating poverty, racism, discrimination and the ignorance that underlies it, and perhaps most importantly the stereotypical conceptions about Christians and Christianity in general that permeate much of today’s society.

Any attempt to delineate the accomplishments of Rev Bev during her tenure at the CA is destined to fall far short of the mark. Some of the most notable include the successful transition of the CA to its present location in 1999, freeing it up from the burdens of property management and landlord/tenant relations; development of the Arts After School program which is now Peacemaking Through the Arts program which brings together undergraduate students and minority elementary school children to combat violence through involving the children in performing and visual arts; development of a DVD entitled Body Without Fear that focuses on the Passion Works program of the CA designed to educate students about the realities of sex and sexuality in an engaging and thought-provoking way; establishing positive, active and effective relationships with other ecumenical campus ministries and organizations; and recognition of the CA as a consistent voice for justice throughout the campus.

Through her visionary leadership, the CA house has become a true “home” of the Penn community in its openness to hosting events, group meetings and classes, and for some simply a place to rest and meditate in the “Upper Room” where they can free themselves from the burdens of their daily toil.

For Rev. Bev though, the true challenge and reward of her position is being able to “get out of the building and become more involved in ministry” that meets the needs of people. When asked, she concedes she could never have imagined more than twenty years ago that she would be as involved in the areas of ministry that are now the daily focus of her attention and activity.

When out of the building and approached by students on campus who say they have heard of her she simply replies “I hope it’s good!” Not everyone however, identifies positively with Rev Bev’s progressive vision. She receives a regular stream of nasty annual letters – now e-mails – from people who disagree with her and is quick to engage students who would come to her office to “save her” because of her “erroneous theology.” She notes however, “They seem to have given up lately.”

Internal to the CA she launched a sustained development program to attract alumni and foundation support; resumed publication of Annual Reports and alumni/friend newsletters to keep the CA community better informed; initiated the website and electronic newsletters to more effectively reach today’s students; initiated pod-gospels and blogs to further use electronic media to get out the message of progressive Christianity; and reestablished the CA as a Theological Field Education site for seminary students serving in the role of pastor-mentor to help shape the ministries and minds of tomorrow’s spiritual leaders.

Rev Bev has worked closely with the Penn Women’s Center, African-American Resource Center, the LGBT Center and other organizations to further the causes with which the CA is closely identified; most particularly the cause of social justice and equality for women, people of color, and sexual minorities. She is outspoken in her opposition to locating casinos in Philadelphia’s neighborhoods; increasing awareness of the negative impact of the conservative Christian agenda in the areas of sex education, sexual repression and reproductive freedom; and the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and other parts of the world. She is keenly attuned to the damage that is done in the name of “religion” and works tirelessly to increase people’s level of knowledge, awareness and understanding.

Come and join us in our celebration of a true CA treasure: Rev. Beverly Dale.

Gary Bronson and Katherine Primus made significant contributions to this Footprints.



  1. It’s tough being out front of many others on issues. As an organization or an individual, we risk being ignored, criticized for making waves, sometimes outright attacked — and not very well-funded.

    The CA certainly gets its share of criticism: either its “where’s the Christianity in all this” from the churches and those who are offended, or its “this God-talk gets in the way of uniting us progressive folks.”
    Worst yet is the criticism from the impatient saying “all you do is talk (or agitate – or hold committee meetings) When are you going to actually *do* something.”

    I know I find it tough to be involved with the CA. I find myself making all of the criticisms above, and I can’t stand sitting in meetings or making administrative decisions. Plus, I like to argue that I’m much too busy — and that might be true, or it just might help me feel really important and give me an excuse to avoid meetings which I don’t like.

    But really, how many places can I find in my life where others are willing to help me, remind me of issues that matter, encourage me to speak, and sometimes even speak on my behalf — in that area of intersection of spirituality and making a better world.

    The CA is such a place and I need it to exist even though — as a member of the board and one with more than a decade of involvement — I too find it inconvenient, noisy and difficult.
    The celebration of 20 years of Beverly Dale’s service to Penn, the “church” and Philadelphia show a little of how many others need the CA to exist.

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