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Avery, James Edward, 1949-1999

 Person

Dates

  • Existence: 1949 - 1999

James Edward Avery was born July 7, 1949, to Robert and Betty Avery. He grew up in the small farm town of Mendota, Illinois. After graduating from Mendota High School in 1967, Avery matriculated to Northwestern University where he majored in history and excelled in his studies. He was elected to Phi Beta Kappa in 1970 and took a B.A. degree with honors in 1971. While attending Northwestern, Avery developed a calling toward the ministry. After receiving his undergraduate degree, Avery began studies at the Yale Divinity School. While at Yale he served as interim minister at the Park Street Congregational Church in Bridgeport, Connecticut. In 1973, after the retirement of Northwestern University Chaplain Ralph G. Dunlop (See Northwestern University Archives Series 30/8, Records of the University Chaplain Ralph G. Dunlop), Avery was hired as Northwestern's interim chaplain for the 1973-1974 academic year. The following year he accepted appointed as the University Chaplain with the condition that he be granted one year's leave of absence to finish his academic work at Yale. Avery received his Master of Divinity degree from Yale in 1975.

During his tenure at Northwestern, Avery continued the development of the Alice Millar Chapel into a working congregation of regular attendants. Very popular with students, faculty, and staff, Avery often spoke at or presided over functions sponsored by student and academic organizations. These included receptions, convocations, and religious gatherings.

Avery was also strong advocate of social justice concerns. It was not uncommon for him to participate with students and other members of the Northwestern community in the political protests of the era. Avery spoke for the equal rights of women and gays. He was active also in the campaign against apartheid in South Africa. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Avery's office published the quarterly journal Quaecumque, its title derived from the word “Whatesoever…” in the Northwestern University motto. Quaecumque addressed social and moral issues of the time usually from student and faculty perspectives.

Avery was an accomplished public speaker and a gifted homilist. In 1977 Midwest magazine cited him as “one of the best young preachers in the Chicago area.” Avery was well known for his ability to captivate and move a congregation or gathering. In a different pastoral role, he was widely considered a caring and trustworthy counselor.

In 1986, after serving Northwestern University for the better part of 13 years, Avery resigned his chaplaincy to continue his formal education. He returned to Yale and earned a master of sacred theology in liturgical studies in 1987 and completed coursework for a doctorate in religious studies. Avery returned to Chicago in 1997 where he remained until his death in 1999.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Guide to the Records of University Chaplain, James Edward Avery (1949-1999)

 Collection
Identifier: 30/16
Abstract While attending Northwestern, James Edward Avery developed a calling toward the ministry. After receiving his undergraduate degree, Avery began studies at the Yale Divinity School. In 1973, Avery was hired as Northwestern’s interim chaplain. The following year he accepted the appointment of University Chaplain. During his tenure at Northwestern, Avery continued the development of the Alice Millar Chapel into a working congregation of regular attendants. Very popular with students, faculty, and...