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STH alum returns as University chaplain

Rev. Sakena Young-Scaggs to be installed on November 13

Rev. Sakena Young-Scaggs (STH'00,'02) will be formally installed as associate dean of Marsh Chapel on Sunday, November 13. Photo by Byron Smith (CGS'08)

Rev. Sakena Young-Scaggs, the new associate dean of Marsh Chapel, became one of BU’s University chaplains in September. But her relationship with the institution began long before she started leading services and counseling students.

“As a student, I would just sit in the Howard Thurman Room and read, and study, and hope to absorb some of that power,” says Young-Scaggs (STH’00,’02), who considers the late Howard Thurman (Hon.’67), dean of Marsh Chapel from 1953 to 1965, a role model for herself and other African-American clergy. “[Marsh Chapel] Dean Robert Neville was my theology professor, and [STH Assistant Dean for Student Affairs] Imani Newsome-Camera taught me what it means to work with students and care about their lives.”

A Service of Installation for Young-Scaggs, who came to the University from Brown University, will take place on Sunday, November 13, at 3 p.m. in Marsh Chapel. The Marsh Chapel Choir and the Inner Strength Gospel Choir will perform, and other University chaplains will welcome Young-Scaggs in liturgy. A reception follows the service in the chapel’s Marsh Room. “We at Marsh Chapel are very fortunate to have a minister as talented as Reverend Young-Scaggs in our community,” wrote Neville in announcing the event.

At BU, Young-Scaggs leads a weekly contemporary worship service, advises the Inner Strength Gospel Choir, and participates in a weekly interfaith fellowship dinner. “As an alumna, I see myself as someone who can help students navigate the landscape and the experiences,” she says. “I know the community, and I thought there was a great opportunity to come back here, to do the work I love in an environment that was open and affirming.”

Young-Scaggs grew up in Newark, N.J., and received a bachelor’s degree in Italian studies and international relations from Arizona State University. She earned master of divinity and master of sacred theology degrees from BU and was the associate Protestant university chaplain at Brown for five years. She is the daughter of the late jazz musician Larry Young, Jr., whom she credits for her love of music.

She lives in Rhode Island with her husband, Rev. Jonathan Young-Scaggs, and their three children.