During Boston University’s Alumni Weekend, the Rev. Gilbert H. Caldwell joined Boston University School of Theology (STH) to lead alumni/ae, faculty, students and staff in a discussion of civil rights and racial inequality.
Rev. Caldwell, who earned his Master of Divinity from STH in 1958, is a retired member of the Rocky Mountain Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, co-founder of Black Methodists for Church Renewal, and co-founder of United Methodists of Color for a Fully Inclusive Church. Described as a “foot soldier” in the civil rights movement, Rev. Caldwell marched with Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and has also advocated for the full inclusion of LGBTQ people in the United Methodist Church.
Following a September 24 screening of the Oscar-award winning film Selma, Rev. Caldwell invited STH student Mariama White-Hammond to join him in leading the dialogue and in welcoming the audience to comment and pose questions about race, theology, and cultural diversity
The audience discussed racial diversity at Boston University, the part that race has to play in the theology and work of the church, and the Black Lives Matter movement. They dialogued about the role—and the limits—that education can play in overcoming racial inequities and the importance of an elementary and high school education that honestly teaches the travesties of American history. “Education is a two-edged sword,” said Mariama White-Hammond. “We need to be looking really closely and really carefully at what is being taught in our schools.”
Rev. Caldwell encouraged American citizens to look at the contradictions of America’s history, to grapple with the theological interpretations that led to racist beliefs, and to look at the relationship between racial inequality and the slave labor that helped to build America. He encouraged the audience to consider, “How have we become what we’ve become?”
Mary Elizabeth Moore, dean of Boston University School of Theology, described the dialogue as a “self-examination, a communal examination,” and only the beginning of many such dialogues to come.
During Gather at the River this August, Reconciling Ministries Network and MoSAIC honored School of Theology Associate Dean Pamela Lightsey and two Boston University School of Theology alumni and for their work to bring systemic change, to take risks in the face of opposition, and to advocate for the full participation of all persons within the life of the United Methodist Church.
Reconciling Ministries Network (RMN) mobilizes United Methodists of all sexual orientations and gender identities to transform our Church and world into the full expression of Christ’s inclusive love. MoSAIC is a movement of young adults, students, and seminarians working for the liberation of all God’s people in the United Methodist Church.
Rev. Dr. Pamela Lightsey, School of Theology Associate Dean for Community Life and Lifelong Learning, was the 2015 recipient of the Cup of Justice Award, an award given for taking bold action to bring about systemic change where injustice, oppression and exclusion exist. RMN praised Rev. Dr. Lightsey for her work with RMN, the United Methodist Church, and her activism in Ferguson, where she recently hosted a Conference for Black Church Scholars and where she has marched on behalf of racial justice several times. RMN’s announcement said, “As a queer woman of color, Dr. Lightsey continues to embody the great standard-bearing threshold articulated by activist Audre Lorde: ‘there is no single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives.’”
Rev. Dr. Lightsey also serves as chair of the Personnel Committee of the Board of Directors of RMN. She recently received the Beth Stroud Award from New England Conference, the 2015 MFSA Award from North Illinois Conference, the Bishop’s 2015 Ecumenical and Interreligious Award from North Illinois Conference, and the 2015 Justice Advocacy Award from Black Clergywomen of the United Methodist Church.
Rev. David Felten (STH ’88) is one of two Voices in the Wilderness awardees. The Voice in the Wilderness Award is given for taking risks, despite isolation in a wilderness, to proclaim the rightness of inclusion for all people in the church, and for standing against injustice despite the lack of support. As the pastor of The Fountains UMC in Fountain Hills, AZ, Rev. Felten has tirelessly advocated for LGBT rights in the face of local opposition. Although other local clergy have joined forces to publicly discredit Rev. Felten’s teaching, RMN says, “Rev. Felten has been gracious and peace-seeking in the face of these attacks.”
Rev. Becca Girrell (STH ’04) received the Shepherd of Hope Award, presented to a young adult, individual, or organization supporting young adults who live out MoSAIC’s call for justice. MoSAIC says, “Becca has worked consistently over the last quadrennium to use Twitter and other social media outlets to invite deep, intentional, intergenerational, grace-filled conversations on the internet.” Giving voice to the frustration many young adults felt during General Conference 2012, Rev. Girrell started Dream UMC, a respectful, inclusive monthly social media conversation about big issues facing the United Methodist Church.
Boston University School of Theology congratulates Rev. Felten, Rev. Girrell, and Rev. Dr. Lightsey for their tireless work on behalf of inclusion, justice, and gracious, passionate dialogue in the United Methodist Church.
From Amazon: The Counterpunching Minister (who couldn’t be “preyed” away) is a collection of 64 Counterpunch articles, calling for religious leaders to regain their prophetic role of confronting political power and wealth with reality and moral truth, rather than serving as chaplains of the status quo and providing the Invocations and Benedictions for those in power. The articles deal with America’s moral decay. The refusal of our government to engage in national self-examination after the horrific 9/11 attacks. Instead, starting a so-called global “war on terrorism” in the continuing pursuit of world domination—under the pretext of “protecting our national security.” Launching illegal, pre-emptive falsely based wars of choice against Afghanistan and Iraq, resulting in the deaths, dislocation and diminishing of millions of people. Violating the national sovereignty of other countries with weaponized drones, filling their skies with dread, and bringing sudden death and injury to innocent children, women and men. Creating endless enemies that fuels an unending “war on terror—which benefits the political/corporate/ energy/ intelligence complex. Essays focus on the pervasive militarization of America, aided by mainstream media which serve as guardians of the status quo. A militarization that has accommodated the government’s criminal wars, the brutal Guantanamo Bay detention center, a presidential “kill list” that denies due process even to Americans, the National Security Agency spying on all of us citizens, and the prosecution and pursuit of whistleblowers like Pvt. Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden. Articles also spotlight the ever widening economic gap between the politically influential wealthy and the 99%. With the country’s white-controlled hierarchy of access to political, economic and legal power reinforcing America’s historic racial divide—with the current black president an accommodating exception to the ruling elite. Certain pieces address the use of “God” to “sancti-tize” the moral decay. Such as belief in “American exceptionalism” and “Christocentricism” and “God bless America”– the latter presidential code words for the imperialistic ways of “Providence.” For many, the “God of our Fathers,” is American, white, Christian, imperialistic, heterosexual, male. The writings confront a major issue of religion: the aversion of many people of faith to politics and conflict. Speaking truth to political and corporate power creates controversy and carries the risk of losing their own institution’s privileged status—and the financial support of disaffected members. It is much easier—and safer—to be a shepherd than a prophet, and to see people as sheep rather than as individuals with human rights. The book is about empathy. Inclusive empathetic moral caring for other persons– near and far– depends on the humanness of those who represent and serve people and the common good—whether clergy and their congregations, health care professionals,, social service and civic leaders, educators, politicians, or citizen volunteers. Included in this collection is an article on the writer’s own successful lawsuit against an abusive denominational hierarchy that violated his right of privacy in an attempt to assassinate his character and end his ministry. The writer’s case provides a landmark ruling that protects clergy—and other workers and whistleblowers– who refuse to allow those with authority over them to control their conscience and set limits on their empathy and political involvement.
Boston University School of Theology is proud to announce the recipients of the annual Distinguished Alumni/ae Award: Fr. Alexander Veronis (STH 1960, PhD), Dr. Lallene J. Rector (STH ’78, GRS ’86), and Reverend Dr. William Bobby McClain (STH 1962, STH 1977). Alex Froom (STH 2012, SSW 2012) has received the award of Emerging Leader.
School of Theology Distinguished Alumni/ae Awards honor outstanding alumni and alumnae. The Emerging Leaders award category is reserved for alumni 45 and younger who show exceptional promise as emerging leaders while also living a life that corresponds to the values of the school’s mission statement.
Dr. William Bobby McClain earned both his master’s and doctoral degree at STH. He founded and served as executive director of the Multi-Ethnic Center for Ministry at Drew University. In 1991, his Clark Atlanta University alma mater awarded him the Doctor of Divinity degree in recognition of his achievements in religion and civil rights. In 1999, he was named to the Mary Elizabeth McGehee Joyce Chair in Preaching and Worship at Wesley Theological Seminary, the first full endowed chair in the seminary’s history, where he taught preaching and worship for 34 years. He was the commencement speaker for Wesley’s Commencement in 2013 and is now Professor Emeritus at the Seminary.
Fr. Alexander Veronis served as pastor/assistant pastor at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Lancaster from 1961 to 2011 and is now Pastor Emeritus. A leader in local and global church and ecumenical life, he has served as President of the Lancaster County Inter-Faith Fellowship, the Board of Missions of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, the National Council of Presbyters of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, and many other organizations. Also a leader in global Orthodox missions, he initiated the first Missions Program for the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America in 1967, which led to the establishment of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocesan Missions Center. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the “Excellence in Ecumenical Relations Award” from the General Assembly of the National Council of Churches in the USA
Dr. Lallene J. Rector is president of Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, where she has served as an esteemed faculty member since 1986 and as Vice President of Academic Affairs and Academic Dean from 2006-2013. As Academic Dean, she developed and implemented the seminary’s strategic plain, chaired the budget reduction task force, initiated curriculum review, and negotiated the seminary’s charter membership in the Seminary Stewardship Alliance. She has been committed to creating a diverse community at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary and serves on the Association for Theological Schools Advisory Committee for Chief Academic Officers, and as a member of the Board of Directors for the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry.
Alex Froom is the Executive Director at the nonprofit organization Rez Refuge. At Boston University, where he earned both an MDiv and a Master of Social Work, his research interests included Christian theologies of suffering and trauma, Liberation theologies, Christian histories in relationship with Native Americans, and community organizing. He has worked in local church ministry and as a community organizer in Massachusetts. Alex’s work for Rez Refuge draws from his passion for community building on neighborhood levels, his interest in the intersections of religion, culture, economics, and politics, and in his desire to be a part of a community that leaves nothing out of its vision for coming generations.
The School will celebrate its Distinguished Alumni at the following events on September 17, 2015 at Boston University School of Theology:
Distinguished Alumni Presentation and Panel: The Three Greatest Challenges Facing Us in the Next Decade
STH Community Center, 745 Commonwealth Avenue
Meet and Greet with the School of Theology Dean’s Advisory Board
STH Community Center, 745 Commonwealth Avenue
Distinguished Alumni Dinner and Celebration
6:30pm – 9pm
George Sherman Union, Back Court on the first floor, 775 Commonwealth Avenue
RSVP for all events to Jaclyn Jones, Alumni Relations Officer.
After eight years of serving in the mental health field in San Francisco, Alphonse-Louis N. Vinh (STH ’81, SSW ’81) is now back in Washington. He is serving on the Education Committee of the Greater DC area chapter of the Association for Suicide Prevention. In this capacity, he is the chapter’s liaison to faith-based communities in the area. Alphonse-Louis N. Vinh would be pleased to hear from STH alumni. He wants to help set up suicide education workshops and discussions about preventing suicide in religious organizations and churches.
Kathryn “Kathy” Charland, a BU graduate in the School of Theology (M.Div. 2009), has been called to serve in partnership with the women’s ministries of the Baptist Convention of Zambia to assist in the establishment of a new Women’s Ministries Center. She is serving as an endorsed missionary with American Baptist International Ministries (IM).
In her role in Zambia, Kathy will contribute to the development of the center’s faculty and its facility, which is to serve as a training center and extension base for literacy programs and economic development initiatives. Agriculture, animal husbandry, small business development and micro-enterprise loan programs are some of the tools that the center will use to empower women and alleviate poverty in the context of Christian discipleship.
In preparation for this new ministry, Kathy will spend much of her first year of active service in a series of short-term learning and serving experiences with cutting-edge women’s center ministries in other places around the world.
A ministry in Zambia has been on Charland’s heart since 2007 when she did field work for her Master of Divinity degree in Zambia as an IM volunteer. “My eyes were opened to a world I had never truly seen before,” said Charland in a recent journal. “As I entered that world, as I walked with, prayed with, sang with, danced with, mourned with, worshiped with the people in that world, I could no longer ignore it.”
In 2012, when Charland considered returning to Zambia for another short trip, Charland “sensed God’s call to long-term service.” She began the missionary application process through IM and shared her desire to serve in the areas of poverty relief and discipleship.
At the time, Zambia was not a possibility for IM missionaries. IM identified a mission opportunity in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and one in South Africa. As it happened, neither location was part of God’s call on Charland’s life.
Late in 2014, IM reestablished its partnership with the Baptist Convention of Zambia (BCZ), opening the door to for IM to once again send missionaries there. The Reverend Zulu, president of the BCZ, commented, “We felt a void in our Christian journey when we were no longer in partnership of IM.”
“The renewed partnership with the BCZ could not have been better timed,” said IM Area Director for Africa the Reverend Eleazar Ziherambere. “When I visited the Convention in November 2014 and asked BCZ why they so badly want to resume our partnership, they quickly pointed out their need for a coordinator for women’s ministries to help establish a Women’s Center. I understood then that the mighty hand of God was indeed directing his call to Kathy to serve in Zambia.”
Charland was quickly identified as the person for the job, and she leapt at the opportunity. “When I applied for mission service through IM,” she said, “we did not foresee how God would use circumstances to direct me to a country and a people that I fell in love with so many years before. Can you imagine the great things he is going to do next? Truly our God is ‘great and awesome.’ (Nehemiah 4:14 NKJV)”
“Discerning and following God’s call to international service is sometimes a winding and surprising journey,” says Jim Bell, IM’s director of vocational development. “We rejoice that in God’s providential timing, Kathy’s desire to serve in Zambia, the resumption of IM’s partnership with the BCZ and a service opportunity that matches Kathy’s gifts have converged at this moment.”
To learn more about Kathy Charland, sign up for her journals or email her directly, go to http://internationalministries.org/teams/637-charland. Look for Kathy Charland on Facebook at Reason2Hope.
For more information on IM’s Vocational Development opportunities, go to http://internationalministries.org/get-involved. Find us on Facebook at International Ministries Vocational Development.
American Baptist International Ministries celebrated 200 years of ministry in 2014. American Baptist International Ministries (IM) was organized in 1814 as the first Baptist international mission agency in America. It began its pioneer mission work in Burma and today serves God through more than 1,800 short and long term missionaries in Asia, Africa, Europe, the Middle East and the Americas. Its central mission is to help people come to Christ, grow in their relationships with God, and change their worlds through the power of the Spirit. It works with respected partners in over 70 countries in ministries that meet human need.
Boston University School of Theology alumni receives prestigious award
CINCINNATI, OH - Reverend Greg T. Bailey (STH ’04) is the first recipient of the Dr. Virgil Alexander Wood Dissertation Award given by his doctoral alma mater, Union Institute & University nationally headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio.
The award was presented at the Union Institute & University Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Social Justice Legacy Lecture series on Thursday, January 8 at the Kingsgate Marriott Conference Center in Cincinnati.
The distinction recognizes Reverend Bailey for his 2013 dissertation King’s Pursuit of Economic Justice: Correcting Capitalism through a Beloved Economy that examines Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy in building a beloved community that confronts racism, war, and poverty.
Reverend Bailey is the associate pastor at Union Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, where he serves as worship leader, adult educator and clergy support. He also practices law representing the poor and underserved.
In addition to his Union Institute & University Ph.D., earned in 2013, Reverend Bailey holds a Juris Doctorate, Business and Tax Law, from Georgetown University, a Post Juris Doctorate, Master of Sacred Theology, Social Ethics, from Boston University School of Theology, a Master of Divinity from Andover Newton Theological School, and a bachelor of science in business administration from Fairfield University, School of Business.