United Methodist Faculty

The School of Theology includes a number of faculty and staff who are United Methodist (or closely affiliated) and who provide leadership in The United Methodist Church including boards, agencies, and local churches

Professor Katheryn Pfisterer Darr, a 1989 winner of Boston University’s prestigious Metcalf Award for Excellence in Teaching, has authored three books, essays and articles for essay collections and major scholarly journals, respectively, and educational materials for the United Methodist Publishing House. To date, her writings have focused especially on the books of Isaiah and Ezekiel. Her current research/writing project is a study of proverbs appearing in ancient Israel’s prophetic corpus. A United Methodist, Professor Darr served on the Editorial Board for the New Interpreter’s Bible commentary series (Abingdon Press) and authored the commentary on Ezekiel for that series. She enjoys bringing biblical scholarship not only to her students, but also to pastors and their congregations.
The Reverend Dr. Cristian De La Rosa is a member of the Rio Grande Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church and came to Boston University School of Theology from the role of National Director for the Hispanic Youth Leadership Academy (HYLA), at Perkins School of Theology. She previously served as Director of Continuing Education and Course of Study School at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary and more recently served with The Association for Hispanic Theological Education (AETH) at the National Director for Tertulias Pastorales, an ecumenical clergy initiative sponsored by the Lilly Foundation. Dr. De La Rosa finished her dissertation focusing on contextual dynamics of power and agency. Her areas of interest include Feminist Theology, cultural theory, Latin American Liberation Theology, and the Hispanic/Latino community and its religious history.  She currently serves as Co-convener for the National Association of UM Latina Clergy Women (ACLAMEN) and as a member of the Faith and Order Committee of the United Methodist Church.
Dr. Evans’ focuses on the history of Christianity, Methodist studies, American religion, and ministry studies. He is the author of several books and articles, including: Liberalism without Illusions: Renewing an American Christian TraditionThe Kingdom is Always but Coming: A Life of Walter Rauschenbusch (recipient of Award of Merit from Christianity Today)Social Gospel Liberalism and the Ministry of Ernest Fremont Tittle; plus three edited volumes and numerous articles.  An ordained elder in the United Methodist Church in the Upper New York Conference, Dr. Evans has lectured, preached, and taught in numerous local church, denominational, and ecumenical settings.
Courtney Goto joined the BUSTH faculty as Assistant Professor of Religious Education in the fall 2010. She is a co-Director for the Center for Practical Theology, and she is affiliated with the Religion and the Arts Initiative. Her interests include creativity, imagination, and aesthetics in teaching and learning; as well as aesthetics, culture, and race and practical theology. Her current manuscript is entitled The Grace of Playing: Pedagogies for Leaning into God’s New Creation. She sees her research moving toward making contributions to Asian American practical theologies and addressing issues of racism through aesthetic practices. As a creative teacher and performance artist, she incorporates experiential learning in her courses. She is influenced by movement improvisation, InterPlay, and the work of Augusto Boal. She draws on her heritage as a Japanese American. She is a former managing editor of Practical Matters, a peer-reviewed, online multidisciplinary journal for religious practices and practical theology. She has done extensive international social justice work representing the United Methodist Church and the World Council of Churches.
Dr. Hart is often cited as one of the primary shapers of the study of religion and theology in America in the last third of the 20th century, especially through his long involvement in the American Academy of Religion (AAR). In 1984 he was elected President of AAR, after serving as that learned society’s first Delegate to The American Council of Learned Societies, and presided over the society’s 75th Anniversary (even now he is involved in planning the 100th anniversary for 2009). When he exited formal offices in AAR, its Board of Trustees established the “Ray L. Hart Award for Distinguished Achievement in the Study of Religion,” which is awarded annually. The Reverend Dr. Hart has been an ordained Elder in the United Methodist Church since 1952, and remains a member of the Northwest Texas Conference.
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 retired 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. 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.
Dean Bob Hill has been preaching since 1976.  As an elder (Upper New York Conference) in the United Methodist Church he has had experience in ten local churches, five different annual conferences, multiple annual conference board assignments, General and Jurisdictional Conference participation, General Board membership (GBHEM), various speaking engagements, and denominational leadership discussions. His views of the present condition of the church, particularly in the Northeast, and prospects for ministry into the future, have provided a complementary perspective to that of some recent Northeastern UMC denominational leadership.  His main denominational interests have been in Large Church ministry and Theological Education. Dr. Hill was given the Harry Denman award for Evangelism in 2003.  Currently he serves on the Board of the New England Annual Conference United Methodist Foundation, the Board of Visitors of the Learning Project Elementary School (Back Bay, Boston), the Board of Visitors of Harvard Memorial Church, and the Board of Ministry of Harvard College.  He is an active member of the Boston Ministers’ Club and the New Haven Theological Discussion Group, and an inactive Rotarian.
Prof. David Schnasa Jacobsen is committed to helping students and pastors claim their role as “theologians of the Word” in preaching. In his courses, he encourages masters and doctoral students to wrestle with their own theology of the gospel. Prof. Jacobsen has been a leader in the Academy of Homiletics (Executive Member, Founding Web Editor, Nominating Committee) and in the Society of Biblical Literature (Founder and member of the Steering Committee, Section on Homiletics and Biblical Studies). He is also a member of the North American Academy of Liturgy as part of the Word in Worship seminar. Prior to coming to Boston, Jacobsen was Professor of Homiletics at Waterloo Lutheran Seminary (Ontario) and cross-appointed to the Doctoral Program in Homiletics at the Toronto School of Theology. Prof. Jacobsen is a clergy member of the Dakotas Conference of the United Methodist Church and has served churches in Pierre, South Dakota and New Johnsonville, Tennessee.
Dean Pamela Lightsey 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.
Dean Mary Elizabeth Mullino Moore sees her primary work as working with others and contributing her small part toward repair of the world (tikkun olam).  Her recent books include Teaching as a Sacramental ActMinistering with the Earth, and Teaching from the Heart, plus the co-edited volumes Children, Youth, and Spirituality in a Troubling Worldand Practical Theology and Hermeneutics. She has also written many articles on education, process and feminist theologies, and justice and reconciliation. Mary Elizabeth is a UMC Deacon.
Rev. Susan J. Morrison has facilitated Integration of Theology and Practice groups with Field Education students for the past 12 years and is now moving into a role as vocational mentor at the School of Theology. As an ordained clergywoman in the United Methodist Church she has served churches in Danvers, Andover and Lexington. Active in the NE United Methodist Conference, she serves on the Board of Church and Society. Currently, she is a Spiritual Director at Bethany House in Arlington, MA. and provides a ministry of presence and spiritual companioning at three residential settings for survivors of brain injury through Supportive Living, Inc.
Dr. Neville was ordained deacon in the Methodist Church in 1963 and elder in the United Methodist Church in 1966, with membership now in the Missouri Conference of the United Methodist Church, having served summer pastorates in Missouri in 1956 and 1962. The past president of the American Academy of Religion, Dr. Neville is also past president of the International Society for Chinese Philosophy, the Metaphysical Society of America, and the Association of United Methodist Theological Schools. He is currently president of the Highlands Institute for American Religious and Philosophical Thought. He has served as a member of the Accrediting Commission of the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada and the Commission on Theological Education of the United Methodist Church. He is a member of the editorial boards of The Journal of the American Academy of Religion and Soundings. He was Associated Editor for Behavioral and Neurological Articles for the Encyclopedia of Bioethics. He has published numerous books and articles.
Thomas W. Porter, Jr. is a trial lawyer, mediator, teacher and minister. He teaches at STH where he directs a concentration in Religion and Conflict Transformation. He is the Co-Executive Director of JUSTPEACE Center for Mediation and Conflict Transformation in The United Methodist Church. He recently edited the book, Conflict and Communion: Reconciliation and Restorative Justice at Christ’s Table. He has produced the first draft of a book entitled Engaging Conflict Well: the Soul and Art of Conflict Transformation. 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 was a founder and the president of the Council of Religion and Law, a society of law professors, theologians, 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.
Dr. Robert’s research and teaching interests span the fields of mission history, the history of world Christianity, and mission theology. At Boston University she has directed nearly sixty doctoral dissertations, and former students hold teaching and ministry positions around the world.  Her most recent books are Christian Mission: How Christianity Became a World Religion (Wiley-Blackwell, 2009), now in its third 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 2010-2011summer 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). She serves on the Committee on Faith and Order for the United Methodist Church.
Rev. Dr. Wanda Stahl is an ordained Deacon in the United Methodist Church. Prior to accepting her position at BU, Wanda served as Director of Christian Formation for the New England Annual Conference of the UMC for 12 years. Wanda received her M.Div. from Boston University School of Theology and her Ph.D. in Religion and Education from Boston College.  She has completed programs in Individual Spiritual Guidance and Leading Contemplative Prayer Groups and Retreats from the Shalem Institute in Bethesda, MD and considers it a privilege to accompany people on their faith journeys in a variety of settings. In recent years, her concentrated study and leadership have been in spiritual formation and the building of congregational life. She has served the New England Conference with distinction and has carried leadership and speaking roles in the denomination.
Dean Bryan Stone has served as the E. Stanley Jones Professor of Evangelism in the School of Theology since 1998 and has a background in new church development, urban pastoral ministry, and faith-based non-profit development.  He is an ordained elder in the Church of the Nazarene, which is a member of the World Methodist Council and a regular participant in the Oxford Institute of Methodist Theological Studies. Central to his teaching, writing, and research agenda is the study of Wesleyan and Methodist theology. In addition to various articles on John Wesley and Wesleyan theology, he co-edited the volume: Thy Nature and Thy Name is Love: Wesleyan and Process Theologies in Dialogue. His most recent books are Evangelism After Christendom: The Theology and Practice of Christian Witness and Sabbath in the City: Sustaining Urban Pastoral Excellence, co-authored with Claire Wolfteich. His research, publishing, and teaching interests are in the areas of evangelism, congregational development, urban ministry, ecclesiology, theology and popular culture (including especially film studies), Christian pacifism, and Wesleyan, liberation, narrativist, and post-liberal theologies.
Dr. M. Thomas Thangaraj retired in 2008 as Professor Emeritus of World Christianity at the Candler School of Theology, Emory University, after 20 years of service. He is a member of the Church of South India, which includes the Methodist Communion of India. His area of research during his doctoral studies was in the area of relation between Saiva Siddhanta (South Indian Hindu philosophical tradition) and Christianity, especially around the concept of guru. He has been actively involved in programs of inter-religious dialogue both at the national and international level. He has published widely both in English and in Tamil, and his most recent publications are: The Crucified Guru: An Experiment in Cross-Cultural ChristologyRelating to People of Other Religions: What Every Christian Needs to Know, and The Common Task: A Theology of Christian Mission. He is currently working on a popular book, tentatively titled as, Negotiating Diversity: Crossing Boundaries as a Spiritual Practice. Apart from his academic interests, Professor Thangaraj is keenly interested in South Indian music, both classical and popular, and also in the art of hymnody in Tamil. Twenty of his hymns are now incorporated in the official hymnbook of the churches in Tamilnadu. A few of his hymns in English are published in the United States, Sweden, Germany, Norway, and Denmark. He served on the Assembly Worship Planning Committee for the Assembly of the World Council of Churches held in Zimbabwe, Africa in 1998.
Karen Westerfield Tucker is a United Methodist elder (presbyter) affiliated with the Illinois Great Rivers Conference. She served a congregation in Rock Island, Illinois and the Wesley Foundation at the University of Illinois (U-C) before pursuing the doctorate in liturgical studies at the University of Notre Dame. She was on the faculty at Duke University for fifteen years, and has taught seminary and continuing education courses throughout the United States and Canada, and in Asia, Pacifica, and Europe. Her academic and research interests include North American liturgical history and theology, Methodist/Wesleyan liturgical history and theology, liturgy and pastoral care, and hymnody. In 2002-2003 she was selected as a Henry Luce III Fellow in Theology to study the theological and cultural dynamics of hymnals.Dr. Westerfield Tucker is the author of American Methodist Worship (Oxford University Press, 2001). She conceived and edited The Sunday Service of the Methodists: Twentieth-century Worship in Worldwide Methodism (Abingdon/Kingswood, 1996), and with Geoffrey Wainwright edited The Oxford History of Christian Worship (Oxford University Press, 2006). She is a writer for the Wesley Works Project (Abingdon Press), and is working on a book drawn from her research as a Luce Fellow.A past president (2009-2011) of the international and ecumenical Societas Liturgica, Dr. Westerfield Tucker is the editor-in-chief of the society’s journal Studia Liturgica. She serves on the Executive Committee of the World Methodist Council, relates to the Council’s Committee on Ecumenics and Dialogue, and is the co-secretary of the international dialogue between the World Methodist Council and the Roman Catholic Church.
Dr. Wildman’s research and teaching interests are in philosophy of religion, philosophical theology, modern Christian thought, and comparative theology. He also works in religion and science, and is convener of the Graduate School’s doctoral program in Religion and Science. His publications pursue a multidisciplinary, comparative approach to important topics within religious and theological studies, and he has lectured on these themes in many parts of the world. His programmatic statement of the theory of rationality underlying this type of integrative intellectual work is Religious Philosophy as Multidisciplinary Comparative Inquiry: Envisioning a Future for the Philosophy of Religion (State University of New York Press, 2010). His scholarly books cover a wide variety of topics, some theoretical and some practical, all pursuing a multidisciplinary, comparative approach. He is a member of the American Academy of Religion, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the International Society for Science and Religion.