By Nathan Bieniek
STH faculty members are active in doing research and publishing in their areas of expertise. The Library has sponsored a series of video interviews of faculty members of the School of Theology. Learn more here!
The School of Theology will be hosting and participating in a series of events intended to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Thursday, November 6, 2014
5:00 pm – 7:30 pm on Thursday, November 6,
Location:Marsh Chapel (lecture) and STH Community Center (reception)
The fall 2014 Boston University School of Theology Lowell lecturer is NAACP CEO and President, Cornell William Brooks (STH ’87). The topic is Transformational Leadership. The lecture will take place from 5pm-6:30pm in Marsh Chapel and the reception will take place from 6:30pm-7:30pm in the STH Community Center. The lecture will be streamed live at the following link: http://new.livestream.com/accounts/4958196/events/3376868
“African America in Art and Poetry” Robin Joyce Miller Reception and Presentation
5:30 pm – 7:00 pm Wednesday, November 12, 2014
Location: STH Community Center, B24, B23
Robin Joyce Miller’s art celebrates the history and culture of African America, and the exhibit and reception are sponsored by the BU School of Theology and the Association of Black Seminarians. Miller’s work will be on display in the STH Community Center from November 1 through December 20.
Civil Rights Reception
5:30 pm -7:15 pm Friday, November 14
Location: STH Community Center, B24, B23
The reception will celebrate Civil Rights activism and legal change, with a brief presentation by Martin Luther King Jr,. Professor of Ethical Leadership Walter Fluker. The reception will contribute to the conviviality of the LAW conference, “The Civil Rights Act of 1964 at 50: Past, Present & Future”.
For further information on BU School of Theology alumni/ae and justice movements, such as Anna Howard Shaw, Samuel DeWitt Proctor, Woodie W. White, and Martin Luther King, Jr., see the notable alumni page and the commemoration of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Enough talk! Enough inaction! Enough turning aside from racism!
Enough denial of our culture of racism!
In the face of Michael Brown’s fatal shooting by a Ferguson police office, we cannot turn our backs to the culture of racism that would allow a white police officer to shoot an unarmed young black man 6 times and then allow a mostly white police force to leave the body of this precious human being lying in the street for 4 hours before receiving attention. We cannot deny the culture of avoidance that would allow several days to pass before releasing the officer’s name and yet show footage of a possible theft in a convenience store when the name was finally released. We CAN recognize the fear that the African Americans of Ferguson experienced as this incident unfolded, and we can recognize the fearful awareness of the police that releasing the name of the officer would set off a firestorm of anger. Even in such an atmosphere, nothing justifies the release of the convenience store footage, especially when the incident in the convenience store was apparently not even known by the police officer who shot the victim.
The easy approach to this case and to other cases involving young Black men is to blame the victim. The ongoing approach is to engage in reflections filled with stereotypical tropes that depict Black people as violent – images that perpetuate the culture of racism. Enough blaming! The victim was tragically tried by gunfire. He cannot give his account of that day. It is left in the hands of the grand jury to determine if the officer will be tried in the courts. But you and I will be tried every day that new incidents of violence against young black men and women continue. WE are tried each time we do not speak up against subtle and not-so-subtle acts and attitudes of racism. Rather than blaming the victim, we must hold ourselves accountable if we do not do all within our power to purge the racism in our own souls and to end systemic and institutionally perpetuated racism.
If we open our eyes to the culture we have created by continued racism and white privilege, we who are white will be especially horrified when we read a report about a young African-American boy with Down syndrome entering his first day of school in Syracuse, New York, and being pushed against the wall by a white security guard. According to the boy’s mother, who accompanied her son to take pictures of his first school day, the security guard pushed the boy into a position with his face to the wall and his hands above his head, and then laughingly said: “Now take the picture, he’s in the right position.” There is NO excuse for such abuse. How did our culture teach a security guard that such action is acceptable? Hopefully, this incident will be investigated, as it should be, and the guard will be disciplined in an appropriate way, as he should be. But who will hold our culture accountable? Enough talk! It is time to TURN AROUND.
If we open our eyes to the cultural realities of young immigrants in the U.S. who live with the threat of deportation and have few protections for their safety, health, and education, we will be horrified at our culture of racism yet again. We will discover that many have come to this country to escape political violence, and many have come to escape the poverty in their countries that has been caused or exacerbated by U.S. economic policy. Once immigrants come to this country, they often fall victim to people who take advantage of them physically, economically, and socially, knowing that the immigrant youth have few safe places to go for help. Enough delay! It is time to TURN AROUND!
If we open our eyes to the racist culture that perpetuates our current system of social inequity – including practices of racial profiling in employment and housing, and racially permeated structures of mass incarceration – we will see a racist culture. Further, we will see repeated failures in the United States and in many other parts of the world to address issues of social and economic disparity. We will see ourselves and the many ways we ourselves turn away from these issues or deny their significance, or the ways we give short-term attention to an issue such as gun control after a tragic shooting, only to push the concerns aside a few weeks later and return to what we take to be “normal life.”
We need to recognize that life is not normal when a young African American boy can be shot 6 times and left for hours in the street. We need to recognize that life is not normal when military tactics are used to quell an angry people, who need instead to be heard and included in the construction of social solutions. We need to recognize that life is not normal when the voices for justice and compassion are silenced or blamed for unrest. The destructive issues in Ferguson are well documented by many in the public media and also by our own Associate Dean Pamela Lightsey in her work alongside the people of Ferguson who are calling for justice; it is also well analyzed in newspapers, television and radio accounts, and blogs, including one by our doctoral student Amy Durfee West. If the events that people describe in these social commentaries seem normal to us, we need to turn around and create a new normal. We have talked long enough. We have blamed others long enough. We have wrung our hands long enough. We need to change our culture.
To change a culture is to craft new pathways – pathways for listening, crying out for justice, looking into ourselves, righting wrongs, and reshaping social policies. Here at Boston University School of Theology we will commit to continuing our tradition of being agitators and builders of social justice by marching, speaking out, listening acutely, and working to change our own selves and our own culture. The choice is ours. Do we dare turn ourselves around and create a new culture beyond racism, militarism, scapegoating, and resignation? This is the world that cries out, and we have nothing but ourselves to give.
Enough talk! Enough inaction! Enough turning aside!
The time for turning around is NOW!
 http://www.thismess.net/; also in: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/09/05/1327359/-Black-boy-12-with-Down-Syndrome-Abused-by-White-Guard-in-Front-of-Parents-As-a-Joke?detail=email (accessed on 9 September 2014).
 Pamela Lightsey is Associate Dean for Community Life and Lifelong Learning, and she has spent many days in Ferguson and in appeals to the federal courts, interviewing persons involved in active, non-violent action for justice. See more of her work and interviews at: http://www.bu.edu/today/2014/eyewitness-to-the-turmoil-in-ferguson/ and http://new.livestream.com/accounts/4958196/Ferguson. Amy Durfee West, a doctoral student in Social Ethics at BU School of Theology, has written an insightful commentary at: http://www.povertyconsortium.org/community/amy-durfee-west-terrorisms-theatrical-intent/#more-551.
Congratulations to Doctor of Ministry student, Ricardo L. Franco, who has been selected as a Research Fellow for the Latino Protestant Congregations Project!
Ricardo is a candidate for the Doctor of Ministry at Boston University School of Theology. He is a Colombian, ordained Presbyterian minister who has worked with Latin@ immigrant communities in the United States and Central America for more than a decade. His focus of interest and research is in Latin@ Spirituality, particularly the experience of immigration as locus for theological reflection on the spiritual practices of these communities.
The Latino Protestant Congregations Project (LPC) is a nationwide study of Latino Protestants in the United States designed to illuminate the variety and complexity of Latino Protestant congregations and their worship practices through a qualitative approach. The research seeks to draw data from all strands of Protestantism (Evangelical, Pentecostal, and Mainline), to be attentive to generational dynamics (new immigrants to well-established Hispanics), and to notice alternative liturgical structures (language dominance, places of worship, styles of music and preaching). Ricardo will be working with scholars from across the country over the next two years as he contributes research on Latin@ Protestant congregations in the New England region.
Emma Escobar, who will be graduating in May with a Master of Divinity degree, joined other students from across the country on a Journey Toward Ordained Ministry retreat.
Six scholars involved in a scholarship and mentoring program for racial-ethnic students seeking ordination as deacons or elders will complete their M.Div. degrees this year, bringing the total number of graduates to 25 since the program began in 2004. Five more will complete their degree in 2015.
Scholars and mentors in the Journey Toward Ordained Ministry program gathered for a retreat at the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry in Nashville, March 13-15, 2014. The program combines much-needed scholarship support with ongoing mentoring by United Methodist clergy.
Students agreed that they learn a great deal at the retreats and from mentors in the program, in addition to the financial support of a $5,000 scholarship each year. Kihwan Choi of Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary lauded the program’s ability to connect him with others from many different ethnic and economic backgrounds.
“When we come together—many of us Korean, Latino, African-American—we can see the intersections of our work and similar challenges we face reaching church members who come from such diverse backgrounds.” Choi said. The retreat, he explained, is a great time to talk about these connections and brainstorm together.
Posted by permission of The Pilot:
“Hello, Bishop? Would you mind picking up two prisoners, driving them alone behind enemy lines into a war zone, and completing a prisoner exchange for two kidnapped Christians?” This paraphrases part of the experience related by His Grace Bishop Elias Toumeh, Antiochian Orthodox bishop of Pyrgou in Syria, to an academic convocation March 28 in Brookline which was also an ecumenical gathering of Christians united in listening to his peoples’ plight.
STH Student Nico Romeijn-Stout Receives Scholarship from the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry
Nico Romeijn-Stout has never lacked for role models in his path to attending Boston University School of Theology. Both his parents are ordained United Methodist elders in the Pacific Northwest Annual Conference, as were his grandfather, great-grandfather and great-uncle. Boston University School of Theology is one of the 13 colleges and seminaries supported by The Ministerial Education Fund.
“I have also come to know many other professionals in ministry — clergy and lay — who helped to raise me, mentor me and shepherd me through discerning my call,” he said.
The three cycles of sermons included here provide a spiritual geography, an announcement of the gospel set in New York State. The sermons were given life in the vibrant life of Asbury First United Methodist Church, Rochester, New York, over several years beginning in 2000. The collection is meant to exemplify a thematic form of preaching that addresses and creates a collective consciousness in the life a community. One series is set on “A Village Green.” Another invites those along the Finger Lakes to travel “Once More to the Lake.” The third traverses the major cities of the state, and their capacity to become “An Empire of the Spirit.” The sermons here try to unfold an interpretation of Scripture by engaging local settings to produce a geography of the Spirit.
Author information: Robert Allan Hill
The Papers of Howard Washington Thurman is a four-volume, chronologically arranged documen¬tary edition spanning the long and productive career of the Reverend Howard Thurman, one of the most significant leaders in the history of intellectual and religious life in the mid-twentieth-century United States. As the first to lead a delegation of African Americans to meet personally with Mahatma Gandhi, in 1936, Thurman would become one of the principal architects of the modern nonviolent Civil Rights Movement and a key mentor to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In 1953 Life magazine named Thurman as one of the twelve greatest preachers of the century.
The four volumes of this collection, culled from over 58,000 documents from public and private sources, will feature more than 850 selections of Thurman’s sermons, letters, essays, and other writings–most published here for the first time. Each volume will open with an editorial state¬ment, followed by a thematic introductory essay to guide the reader through the dominant themes in Thurman’s thought: his understanding of spirituality and social transformations, his creative ecclesiology, and his conception of civic character and the national democratic experi¬ment. Detailed annotations to each document illumine Thurman’s personal, professional, and in¬tellectual development and place the texts into their historical context. The volumes are further augmented with detailed chronologies and representative illustrations.
Volume 2 (April 1936-August 1943) documents Thurman’s years after his return from South Asia and his final years as a professor of philosophy and religion and dean of Rankin Chapel at Howard University. The texts, images, and editorial commentary presented here reveal the maturation of Thurman’s theological and social vision, formed by his memories of his time in Asia, his meeting with Gandhi, and his growing commitment to radical nonviolence. His writing also reflects the context of his time, responding to the great events of the day: the Depression, the Great Migration, the birth of the modern Civil Rights Movement, and the coming of World War II. This volume ends immediately prior to Thurman’s decision in late 1944 to leave the security of Howard University to copastor a fledgling church in San Francisco, the Church for the Fellowship of All Peoples, one of the first churches in the United States to be organized on an explicitly interracial basis. Critical to understanding the full scope of Thurman’s career, the myriad writings gathered in volume 2 also illustrate the early germination of ideas central to the twenty-three books Thurman subsequently authored. Their publication here gives new opportunity to understand these pieces in the context of his life and the genesis of his vision.
Author Information: Walter E. Fluker