Associate Dean Pamela Lightsey, along with two other womanist colleagues, Dr. Wil Gafney and Dr. Valerie Bridgeman, had their application for the Peer Mentoring Cluster approved by the Wabash Center. The purpose of their grant is stated as: “Peer Mentoring Clusters program supports faculty of color who are former participants in Wabash Center programming and want to gather a small group for further networking and vocational growth. Minoritized faculty of color face particular challenges and pressures, and can benefit from networks of peer-to-peer mentoring. Peer mentoring conversations can surface ways to meet the demands of mid-career teaching and administrative jobs, and can provide faculty of color with strategies to not only discern challenges and pressures, but to navigate them as well.”
Congratulations to Pamela and her colleagues on this important work. Below is a Q&A with Pamela on what this grant award means to her and what she hopes it will accomplish.
Describe your feelings about the meaningfulness of the work. What will this mentor cluster provide minoritized faculty of color?:
I’m honored and excited to be a recipient of this grant. As Womanist scholars, our project title is Womanist Separation for Wholeness. Women and faculty of color face unique challenges in academia. The peer-to-peer mentoring cluster allows faculty of color opportunities to reflect on those challenges, share helpful experiences as well as strategies for success. In the case of the makeup of our cluster, it also allows me to deepen my work as a scholar who is interested in interdisciplinary research.
Do you and your colleagues have a proposed itinerary for the three meetings you will lead, or will the discussions about self-care and managing commitments be more organic?
We have a bibliography of works that we will be reviewing during our times together. These books will help us reflect on our commitments to activism, academia and the church.
The Peer Mentoring Cluster program requires that you meet three times. Will there be added online conversation as well, between these in-person meetings?
We have no additional planned meetings but as a natural consequence of our time together will likely be having conversations (email, phone) between meetings.
Brandon Thomas Crowley, School of Theology doctoral candidate in Practical Theology, has been chosen to receive a 2017 Forum for Theological Exploration (FTE) Fellowship to support his doctoral program.
FTE is a leadership incubator that inspires young people to make a difference in the world through Christian communities, providing resources, networks, and fellowships to help future pastors and theological educators.
Congratulations, Brandon! Please view the full press release from FTE below.
April 19, 2017
The Forum for Theological Exploration (FTE) has selected 16 students across 13 institutions to receive a fellowship to support their PhD or ThD program in religion, theological studies or biblical studies.
The students within this class of FTE Fellows will either receive the Fellowship for Doctoral Students of African Descent or the Fellowship for Latino/a, Asian and First Nations Doctoral Students. Each recipient will be awarded a living stipend of up to $25,000 to support her or his studies past the coursework stage. Fellowship recipients will also attend the 2017 FTE Christian Leadership Forum, held May 31 – June 3, in Atlanta, GA, as a part of the award. The Forum provides opportunities to develop a community of peer support, explore issues important to leadership formation, engage in professional development and establish mentoring relationships to lead change for good within communities.
FTE is pleased to announce the following fellowship recipients:
“The 2017 class of FTE Fellows represent rising scholars who are making an impact in theological and religious studies and in their local communities. These Fellows are leading change for good through scholarship, advocacy and social change,” said Director of Strategic Partnerships for Doctoral Initiatives Patrick B. Reyes. “We are honored to support and walk alongside these leaders that the church, academy and world need now.”
FTE is committed to supporting rising theological educators from historically underrepresented racial and ethnic groups who are committed to making an impact through their teaching and scholarship. Since 1999, FTE has awarded over 550 fellowships to students of color and has maintained a 98 percent retention rate among its Doctoral Fellows. In addition to its current fellowships for dissertation stage doctoral students, FTE provides professional development opportunities for PhD or ThD students in the first two years of their studies. According to the Association for Theological Schools, in North American theological schools less than 20 percent of faculties are people of color.
FTE’s doctoral initiatives foster diversity in the academy by accelerating the successful completion of doctoral degrees among students of African, Latino/a, Asian and First Nations descent by providing financial support, a community of peers and mentors and professional development opportunities.
The Forum for Theological Exploration is committed to cultivating diverse young adults to be faithful, wise and courageous leaders for the church and the academy. FTE provides resources and a forum for young adults and students to explore their purpose and call to pastoral ministry and teaching. For more information, visit fteleaders.org/about.
Dr. Dana L. Robert, Truman Collins Professor of World Christianity and History of Mission and Director of the Center for Global Christianity and Mission at the School of Theology, has been elected as a member of the 237th class of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, as of Wednesday, April 12, 2017. The Academy was founded in 1780 by John Adams and other prominent Harvard College graduates to promote scholarship in the arts and sciences. Other members of this class include philanthropist and singer-songwriter John Legend, and award-winning actress Carol Burnett. Please see the press release below for full information on this outstanding achievement.
This is one of the highest and most prestigious honors that a scholar in the arts and sciences can attain. As one can imagine, Dana herself is “in shock. I can hardly believe it.” She has also graciously offered some background on her groundbreaking work:
“When I was in graduate school, I took an extra doctoral exam in African Christianity so that I could compare Christianity across cultures. I was interested also in the history of Christian mission, which at that time was seen as a completely outdated subject. I wanted to work in what I thought of as “Comparative Christianity.” The framework of “World Christianity” did not exist at the time, and so I was just dreaming. Now, over thirty years later, the field of World Christianity is alive and flourishing. At Boston University School of Theology we founded one of the first Centers for Global Christianity in the United States, and over the years we have produced dozens of young scholars in that field, who are teaching around the world. I am very proud of my association with Boston University, where ahead of the curve, we have helped to shape the field of World Christianity.”
AMERICAN ACADEMY OF ARTS AND SCIENCES ELECTS 228 NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL SCHOLARS, ARTISTS, PHILANTHROPISTS, AND BUSINESS LEADERS
The 237th class of members includes philanthropist and singer-songwriter John Legend, award-winning actress Carol Burnett, chairman of the board of Xerox Corporation Ursula Burns, mathematician Maryam Mirzakhani, immunologist James P. Allison, and writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
CAMBRIDGE, MA | APRIL 12, 2017 – The American Academy of Arts and Sciences today announced the election of 228 new members. They include some of the world’s most accomplished scholars, scientists, writers, artists, as well as civic, business, and philanthropic leaders.
The list of the 237th class of new members is available at www.amacad.org/members.
Founded in 1780, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences is one of the country’s oldest learned societies and independent policy research centers, convening leaders from the academic, business, and government sectors to respond to the challenges facing—and opportunities available to—the nation and the world. Members contribute to Academy publications and studies in science, engineering, and technology policy; global security and international affairs; the humanities, arts, and education; and American institutions and the public good.
Members of the 2017 class include winners of the Pulitzer Prize and the Wolf Prize; MacArthur Fellows; Fields Medalists; Presidential Medal of Freedom and National Medal of Arts recipients; and Academy Award, Grammy Award, Emmy Award, and Tony Award winners.
“It is an honor to welcome this new class of exceptional women and men as part of our distinguished membership,” said Don Randel, Chair of the Academy’s Board of Directors. “Their talents and expertise will enrich the life of the Academy and strengthen our capacity to spread knowledge and understanding in service to the nation.”
“In a tradition reaching back to the earliest days of our nation, the honor of election to the American Academy is also a call to service,” said Academy President Jonathan F. Fanton. “Through our projects, publications, and events, the Academy provides members with opportunities to make common cause and produce the useful knowledge for which the Academy’s 1780 charter calls.”
The new class will be inducted at a ceremony on October 7, 2017, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Founded in 1780, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences is one of the country’s oldest learned societies and independent policy research centers, convening leaders from the academic, business, and government sectors to respond to the challenges facing the nation and the world. Current Academy research focuses on education, the humanities, and the arts; science, engineering, and technology policy; global security and international affairs; and American institutions and the public good. The Academy’s work is advanced by its elected members, who are leaders in the academic disciplines, the arts, business, and public affairs from around the world.
By Andrew Kimble, STH ’19
During the weekend of March 24, a group of STH students, accompanied by Professor Tom Porter and Dr. Judith Olsen, traveled to Providence, Rhode Island, to participate in nonviolent direct action training at The Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence (ISPN). The two-day training session brought together a diverse group of community members, activists, and scholars who engaged in deep conversation about nonviolent direct action as a form of resistance. Through different exercises, we gauged our individual capacity to be nonviolent and discussed past social movements that implemented nonviolent direct action strategies. The myriad perspectives helped to create a dynamic dialogue which ultimately ended with everyone walking away invigorated.
In addition to providing nonviolent direct action training, the ISPN makes a conscious effort to employ formerly incarcerated persons as they reintegrate into society. For example, our instructor, Sal, shared a story about a poor decision he made when he was seventeen that led to several years in prison. While in prison, he promised to make a difference in the community once he was released. Sal knew that other teenagers were likely to make the same or similar mistake, and extending his wisdom may help prevent such misfortune. His leadership and insight were on full display during our nonviolent direct action training, and served as a reminder that people do learn from their mistakes and must be given a second chance if they are willing to make the proper transformation.
In conclusion, one of the highlights of the training sessions was stepping into the shoes of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during the height of the civil rights movement. We were asked to prepare a response to the Alabama clergymen’s letter to Dr. King in 1963. In essence, the Alabama clergymen called for a halt to the demonstrations and the practice of civil disobedience while asserting that those fighting against racial discrimination should be patient in their demands for social change. Dr. King’s response, known as the Letter from Birmingham Jail, is a poignant statement articulating the urgency of the demonstrations and calls for civil disobedience. The following is my brief response to the Alabama clergymen. It was a challenging yet wonderful experience to think from Dr. King’s historical, social, economic, and political location.
The sense of urgency behind our efforts to ensure equal rights and access to the vital structures and institutions of society for all Americans will never be delayed by a call for “law and order and commonsense.” For those are the three things that currently stand in the way of our freedom and empowerment. The current laws are not suited to guarantee the protection and advancement of people of color; the order is oppressive; the commonsense you refer to is the sense of which community—your community—which does not represent the various groups of oppressed peoples. Your individual and collective intelligence suggest that you are capable of understanding why we feel the need to press forward with tremendous speed. Our survival is at stake, and for those of us whose minds stay on freedom, each day offers another opportunity to bring forth the Kingdom of God. Slowing down, to us, is “unwise.” The poverty and discrimination we experience is “untimely.” I urge you to consider our plight. Life is precious and your help in securing equal rights and access to the vital structures and institutions of society for all Americans would be greatly appreciated. Our activity will not cease until our goals are fulfilled.
Among 31 universities that filed a friend-of-the-court brief joining the legal challenge to President Trump’s executive order suspending entry into the US from six Muslim-majority countries, three are United Methodist-related institutions, including Boston University School of Theology. Please see the original articles and press releases from these supporting institutions below.
From the Balboa Press website:
They say ‘Life is a journey,’ but how many of us take the time to pay attention to the sites? Sometimes the best invitation to discover one’s own path is to slip into the mystery of another’s. Marie Laure’s Chances Are . . . offers readers a window into the spiritual exploration of a soul moving through everyday life. On the way, one quickly realizes how intricately woven sacred moments are in the mundane, like riding the subway, sitting in class, and in getting lost. And one easily discovers connections and echoes from the page to one’s own life. In that way, this story grows beyond a mere window into a compelling invitation. – Reverend Gregory Morisse Senior Pastor, The Plymouth Church in Framingham, MA The United Church of Christ
Marie Laure’s recognition of God — whom she calls the ‘Presence’ — at an early age is prescient and powerful.Her description of continuing to love, even those whom we think we have lost, hits home for anyone who has suffered the death of a loved one or the indifference of intimates. Her story is a ‘must read’ for anyone struggling to make meaning of an insufficient inherited religion and finding a new way forward in faith. – B.R. Bodengraven Master of Theological Studies (M.T.S.) Weston Jesuit School of Theology
By Ashley Renée Johnson, STH ’18
On the 20th of February, eight STH students, all of whom were students of color, traveled to Richmond, Virginia with Dr. De La Rosa, Dr. Zuill, Dr. Lightsey, and Dr. Fluker for the 14th annual Samuel DeWitt Proctor Clergy and Lay Leadership Conference, a conference that has become a place of pilgrimage for African American faith leaders from all over the United States. The conference was inspired by the life of the late Rev. Dr. Proctor, who received his doctorate from BU STH in 1950, and aims to promote social justice by providing churches and their leaders with the resources that are needed to educate, nurture, and mobilize faith communities. While at the conference, it quickly became clear that this effort was evidenced in everything: everything from the sermons that were grounded in hermeneutics of liberation, to the redemptive and insistent telling of African-American history during plenary sessions and lectures, to the spirit-filled worship services.
This theme of this year’s conference, “The Inward Journey: Return, Remember and Renew,” invited attendees to engage in reflection and to retreat from a chaotic world in a restorative space so that they would be strengthened and able to continue doing the necessary work of social justice in their communities. For the STH students that attended, being surrounded by and learning alongside so many other scholars of color was one of the most revitalizing parts of the conference. It was this incredibly valuable experience that many would say gave them the strength that was needed to journey on especially because this dynamic is not one that is present at STH.
Make no mistake about it, by the end of this four-day conference plus a guided experience on the Richmond Slave Trail, and a trip to the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington D.C., the group was tired. But, spirits had been fed, minds had been intellectually challenged, and the group returned ready to continue addressing the critical needs in their communities in order to promote human flourishing.
Associate Professor Jennifer Knust has issued a very thoughtful letter as part of a public witness of religious leaders. This is part of a movement entitled: “American Values Religious Voices: 100 Days, 100 Letters.” Professor Knust’s letter was published on March 15, 2017, and can be accessed at http://www.valuesandvoices.com/letter55/.
Among the religious leaders who have published letters already is Bill Leonard, a BU STH alumnus.
We are pleased to announce that Assistant Professor Jonathan Calvillo has been awarded one of the prestigious Louisville Institute’s First Book Grant for Minority Scholars. This is a huge honor, and it will allow Jonathan to take time for intense research on his major project, “The Saints of Santa Ana: Ethnic Membership and Religious Identities in the Barrio.” You can learn more about the fellowship at https://louisville-institute.org/awards/first-book-grant-for-minority-scholars/
The Louisville Institute’s First Book Grant for Minority Scholars enables junior, tenure-track religion scholars of color to complete a major study that contributes to the vitality of Christianity in North America. Grants of up to $40,000 support year-long research projects that will lead to the publication of a first (or second) book.
Louisville Institute is funded by the Religion Division of Lilly Endowment and based at Louisville Presbyterian Seminary (Louisville, Kentucky). The Institute’s fundamental mission is to enrich the religious life of North American Christians and to encourage the revitalization of their institutions, by bringing together those who lead religious institutions with those who study them, so that the work of each might inform and strengthen the other.
Assistant Professor of Theology David Decosimo penned a timely op-ed that was published in the Washington Post‘s “PostEverything” perspective section. The article, titled “Trump could learn a thing or two about freedom and democracy from Islam“, is gaining national attention. Be sure to read Professor Decosimo’s response to President Trump’s revised immigration executive order, and how the tenets of Islam can be a guide to the current presidential administration and their global view.