Program Leadership

Director of The Boston Theological Institute

Rodney Petersen, Director

Rodney Petersen has been Executive Director of the Boston Theological Institute since 1990. In addition to this work with the BTI, he teaches in both the member schools and overseas. He teaches in the areas of history and ethics, currently focusing on issues of religion and conflict. Together with BTI colleagues these courses have taken students to various regions of the world in order to understand and film ways in which faith communities are implicated in regional violence and how they can be avenues of reconciliation. He is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A., serving on several of their committees and served for seven years as the pastor of the Allston Congregational Church (U.C.C.). Prior work included teaching at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (Deerfield, Illinois), Webster University (Geneva, Switzerland), and with the Fédération des Institutions établies à Genève (FIIG). He also worked with churches in France and Eastern Europe, primarily Romania. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Massachusetts Council of Churches, the Massachusetts Commission on Christian Unity, the Lord’s Day Alliance of the USA, the Refugee Immigration Ministry, Sec/tres., American Society of Missiology (Eastern Fellowship), and numerous other academic and ecclesiastical organizations. He has authored, edited, or contributed to numerous scholarly articles and books.

Thomas Porter

Thomas Porter Executive Director

Tom Porter is Executive Director of JUSTPEACE Center for Mediation and Conflict Transformation, The United Methodist Church. The mission of the Center is “to engage conflict constructively in ways that strive for justice, reconciliation, resource preservation and restoration of community in and through The United Methodist Church and with the Church universal to the world in which we live.” After graduating from Yale University, he received a M.Div. degree from Union Theological Seminary and a J.D. degree from Boston University Law School. He studied mediation at Harvard Law School and Eastern Mennonite University. Tom is an ordained elder of the New England Conference of The United Methodist Church and served as conference chancellor for 23 years. He was a founding partner of the trial firm of Melick & Porter LLP in 1983 and has been a trial lawyer since 1974, representing religious institutions, universities, hospitals, professionals, nonprofit organizations and others. He is a member of the board of the Journal of Law and Religion and was chair of the board from 1989 through 2001. He was a founder and the president of the Council of Religion and Law, a society of law professors and theologians as well as lawyers and ministers, from 1978 to 1985. He was a member of the board of Union Theological Seminary, chairing its educational policy committee, from 1992 to 2001. He is a member of the Working Group on Restorative Justice of the Boston Theological Institute and has taught courses on the practice and theory of conflict transformation and peace-building at Union Theological Seminary, Claremont School of Theology, and in numerous church settings.

Mary Elizabeth Moore

Mary Elizabeth Moore, Director of Research, and Peacebuilding and the Arts

Mary Elizabeth Mullino Moore is Dean of the School of Theology and Professor of Theology and Education, Boston University. Prior to arriving in Boston, Mary Elizabeth was Director of Women in Theology and Ministry and Professor of Religion and Education at Candler School of Theology. She was also Co-convener of Emory University’s “Religion and the Human Spirit” Initiative – a university effort to foster teaching and research on religion and global issues, such as health and peacemaking. Mary Elizabeth sees her primary work as working with others toward repair of the world (tikkun olam). Her most recent books include: teaching as a Sacramental Act, Ministering with the Earth, and Teaching from the Heart, plus two co-edited volumes, Children, Youth, and Spirituality in a Troubling World and Practical Theology and Hermeneutics. She has also written many articules on justice and reconciliation, ecology, education, and process and feminist theologies. Mary Elizabeth is married to Allen, and they have five wonderful children and eight fabulous grandchildren.

Pamela Lightsey, Associate Dean for Community Life and Lifelong Learning

Pamela Lightsey is the Associate Dean for Community Life and Lifelong Learning and Clinical Assistant Professor of Contextual Theology and Practice. She is a scholar, social justice activist, and military veteran whose academic and research interests include: classical and contemporary just war theory, Womanist theology, Queer theory and theology, and African American religious history and theologies. An ordained elder in the Northern Illinois Conference of the United Methodist Church, Pamela pastored an urban church on the south side of Chicago, has done work for several UM general agencies and has strong connections within several mainline denominations. She has been a member of the Pan Methodist Commission for the last two quadrennials.

She currently co-chairs the American Academy of Religion’s Womanist Approaches to Religion and Society Group. She is a member of the Executive Committee for the Soul Repair Project, which studies the role of moral injury in veterans. The project is funded by several sources including a Lilly Endowment grant and is directed by feminist scholar, Dr. Rita Nakashima Brock.

Pamela’s publications include “Reconciliation,” in Radical Evangelical (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company) and “If There Should Come a Word” in Black United Methodists Preach!(Abingdon Press).

John Berthrong, Associate Professor of Comparative Theology

John Berthrong is the Associate Professor of Comparative Theology at the Boston University School of Theology.  Active in interfaith dialogue projects and programs, his teaching and research interests are in the areas of interreligious dialogue, Chinese religions and philosophy, and comparative philosophy and theology.  His published and forthcoming books are All under Heaven: Transforming Paradigms in Confucian-Christian Dialogue (SUNY Press [Chinese Translation from Renmin Chupanshe 2006]), The Transformations of the Confucian Way (Westview Press), and Concerning Creativity: A Comparison of Chu Hsi, Whitehead, and Neville (SUNY Press).  He is co-editor with Professor Mary Evelyn Tucker of Confucianism and Ecology: The Interrelation of Heaven, Earth, and Humans published by Harvard University Press in 1998.  In 1999 he published The Divine Deli (Orbis Books), a study of religious pluralism and multiple religious participation in North America.  He also collaborated with Evelyn Nagai Berthrong on Confucianism: A Short Introduction (2000, OneWorld), which has been translated into Italian and Russian.  He most recently co-edited, with Liu Shu-hsien and Leonard Swidler, Confucianism in Dialogue Today: West, Christianity & Judaism (2004) and recently published Expanding Process: Exploring Philosophical and Theological Transformations in China and West (2008) from SUNY Press.

Susan Hassinger

Bishop Hassinger

Susan Wolfe Hassinger was elected a bishop of the United Methodist Church in 1996, and was assigned to the Boston Area, the New England Annual Conference. She is retiring from the responsibility as a residential bishop at the end of August 2004. Immediately prior to being elected as a bishop, Susan had been director of The Office of Resourcing for the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of the United Methodist Church. In that capacity she worked with congregations and church organizations of various sizes, settings, and racial/ethnic backgrounds in conflict transformation, visioning, team building, and congregational development. Her training, in addition to extensive work in conflict transformation, has included organizational development, family systems as applied to groups and organizations, anti-racism and white privilege, and leadership for change. Bishop Hassinger has also facilitated groups, including the annual conference, in processes of decision-making in addition to or instead of parliamentary procedure. Her practice of spiritual discernment with individuals and groups draws on the “holy conferencing” of John Wesley, as well as such diverse perspectives as the Quaker clearness committee and the Ignatian spiritual exercises. Bishop Hassinger has been part of the design team and first president of JustPeace Center for Conflict Transformation and Mediation. She has also served on a task force on Theological Education and Leadership Formation that included representatives of the Council of Bishops of the United Methodist Church, the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry and the Association of United Methodist Theological Schools. That task force has produced a working document “A Wesleyan Vision for Theological Education and Leadership Formation for the 21st Century.” She has also been a part of a joint task force that produced a study on Holy Communion, “This Holy Mystery,” that was adopted by the 2004 General Conference of the United Methodist Church.

Shelly Rambo

Shelly Rambo, Trauma Studies

Shelly Rambo is Associate Professor of Theology at Boston University School of Theology. Her research and teaching interests focus on religious responses to suffering, trauma, and violence, and her book, Spirit and Trauma: A Theology of Remaining,develops a theology of the Spirit in response to the interdisciplinary study of trauma. Through partnerships with military chaplains and veteran-care groups, she is exploring the religious implications of American military involvement and the challenges of trauma healing. Her current book project focuses on theological interpretations of the human in light of war and violence. She is one of the faculty leaders in BU’s Religion and Conflict Transformation program.


Elizabeth Parsons

Elizabeth Parsons is an educator and development professional with a background in non-profit administration that has included academic, community-based, and artistic endeavors. Raised in a reformed Christian background, she was confirmed in the Anglican tradition as an adult and, in the early 2000s, served as an Episcopal missioner in Zimbabwe and Zambia. Her first book, What Price for Privatization? Cultural Encounter with Development Policy on the Zambiam Copperbelt is forthcoming with Lexington Books. Her main research and teaching interests focus on the intersection of worldviews with international development policymaking and practice. But she is also currently producing a book of edited correspondence between Patty Hathaway Armstrong and Lloyd Cline Sears, faith missions educators who helped shape the vision for Churches of Christ schools in the American midwest and south during the early 1900s. Liz is a lecturer in mission studies at Boston University.


Dana L. Robert is Truman Collins Professor of World Christianity and History of Mission as well as Co-Director of the Center for Global Christianity and Mission.  Her research and teaching interests span the fields of

Dana Robert

Dana Robert

Dana L. Robert is Dr. Robert is Truman Collins Professor of World Christianity and History of Mission and the director of the CGCM. Her research and teaching interests span the fields of mission history, the history of world Christianity, and mission theology. At Boston University she has directed over sixty doctoral dissertations, and former students hold teaching and ministry positions around the world. In 2011 she delivered a keynote address at the Global Christian Forum in Manado, Indonesia. In 2010 she delivered the Alexander Duff and the Henry Drummond Lectures in Scotland, the opening keynote lecture at the historic Edinburgh 2010 conference, and the Henry Martyn Lectures at Cambridge University. Her most recent books are Christian Mission: How Christianity Became a World Religion (Wiley-Blackwell, 2009), now in its fifth printing; and Converting Colonialism: Visions and Realities in Mission History, 1706-1914 (editor, Eerdmans 2008). She wrote the study Joy to the World!: Mission in the Age of Global Christianity for the 2010-2011 summer schools of mission for The United Methodist Church. With M.L. Daneel, she edits the book series “African Initiatives in Christian Mission” (University of South Africa Press). Robert received her BA from Louisiana State University and her MA, MPhil, and PhD from Yale University.

“/rct/files/2011/09/wfluker.jpg” alt=”Walter Fluker, Martin Luther King, Jr. Professor of Ethical Leadership” height=”175″ width=”135″ />[/caption]

Walter Earl Fluker is the Martin Luther King, Jr. Professor of Ethical Leadership and the editor of the Howard Thurman Papers Project. Before coming to Boston University School of Theology, he was founding executive director of the Leadership Center and the Coca-Cola Professor of Leadership Studies at Morehouse College. Fluker is a featured speaker, lecturer and workshop leader for professionals and emerging leaders in public and private domains. His recent publications include two volumes of a multi-volume series entitled, The Papers of Howard Washington Thurman: volume I, My People Need Me and volume II, “Christian, Who Calls Me Christian?” (University of South Carolina Press, 2009, 2011); and Ethical Leadership: The Quest for Character, Civility and Community (Fortress, 2009). He is completing a manuscript entitled, The Ground Has Shifted: Essays on Spirituality, Ethics and Leadership from African American Moral Traditions. His prior academic experience includes professorial and administrative positions at Vanderbilt University, Harvard College, Dillard University and Colgate-Rochester Divinity School; and has served as visiting professor and scholar at Harvard University, The University of Cape Town in South Africa, Columbia Theological Seminary and Princeton Theological Seminary. He is married to Sharon Watson Fluker and is the father of four children and five grandchildren.