Alumni News

Prof. Steven Sandage Featured Guest on The Anomalous Mind Podcast

In April 2022, Albert and Jessie Danielsen Professor of Psychology of Religion and Theology Steven J. Sandage was the featured guest speaker on The Anomalous Mind podcast, hosted by John Maier. The podcast features scholars in the fields of psychiatry, mental health, philosophy or linguistics, and the episodes discuss why their work matters. In this episode, Prof. Sandage discusses his work on humility among faith leaders and the effects of positive psychology.

Listen to the Podcast

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Associate Minister of Youth, Young Adults, and Mission, Full-Time: Kenilworth, IL

Kenilworth Union Church, a well-established, ecumenical church community that is independent of any particular denomination, located in Kenilworth, Illinois, is looking for a full-time Associate Minister of Youth, Young Adults, and Mission. The Associate Minister leads the congregation's vibrant, active, and inclusive ministry with youth and young adults grades 7+ including confirmation class, the youth mission trip, and Wednesday evening and Sunday morning youth activities. In addition, the Associate Minister works with the Senior Minister on existing mission giving and expanding missions in the congregation. The Associate Minister will typically supervise and mentor 1-2 staff who support the youth ministry.

This candidate will need to bring high levels of passion and energy for undergirding the many different aspects of our church’s ministry to oversee and continue to create a transformative and faith-forming environment. Candidates must have an undergraduate degree. An M.Div., certification in youth ministry, or a master’s degree in a related field is preferred. The candidate will have experience leading and planning all aspects of a youth ministry consisting of 60-100 youth, and the ability to create activities that help people find God’s guidance and inspiration, as they are sent out to love and serve God and others.
Resumes and inquiries can be directed to Philip Dezern at philip.dezern@ministryarchitects.com.

Contract Minister, Part-Time, UU: Fort Myers, FL

Our Fort Myers, FL, congregation seeks a contract minister who will help our congregation build right relations and strengthen congregational cohesion, assist and direct our worship teams in the production of our Sunday Services, deliver inspirational sermons, work well with our lay ministers and staff, collaborate with congregational leadership and assist the congregation in forming next steps toward calling a settled minister.

We seek a part-time local or remote contract minister with interim ministry experience for up to a year engagement. A fair compensation arrangement is negotiable.

Unitarian Universalist Church of Fort Myers: www.UUCFM.org

 

Community Gatherer, Part-Time, UMC: Sacramento, CA

We are currently searching for a Community Gatherer to grow our social enterprise and ministry Table Farm. Table Farm is a 1/4 acre urban farm committed to gathering neighbors with food in ways that might lessen the prevalence of isolation and bolster vibrant, sustainable community rooted in God’s all-inclusive love and cultivating climate resilience.

We are accepting applications for this part-time position through July 8 (https://thetableumc.org/community-gatherer/). An ideal candidate is someone with excellent interpersonal skills, experience leading groups of youth and children, and a background/ passion for theology, education, and/or sustainable agriculture.

Find the full job description here.

Ms. Laura Ellis (STH’21) Featured by CNN on Abortion Debate

The following is an excerpt from They cite the same Bible and evoke the same Jesus. But these two Christians are on opposite sides of the abortion debate,” published on June 25, 2022 in CNN.  The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Boston University School of Theology, its employees, faculty, or students. 

They cite the same Bible and evoke the same Jesus. But these two Christians are on opposite sides of the abortion debate

 Laura Ellis supports legal abortion rights and is project manager at Baptist Women in Ministry, a Baptist group that advocates for women in ministry.

Ellis is author of a recent essay, "Why I'm a pro-choice Christian and believe you should be too." One of her biggest criticisms of abortion rights opponents is that "often these activists fail to support other political causes that preserve the life of the child after being born."

How does your faith shape your position on abortion?

Ellis: I do believe in the sanctity of human life, and I would love to see a world with less abortions. But I also know that banning abortion is going to most harshly affect people in society who are already really marginalized, and rich White women are always going to be able to have access to safe, affordable abortion. Making abortion illegal is going to disproportionately affect young women, women in poverty, women of color, in rural areas, women who don't have a support system that some people are privileged to have. These are the kind of people that Jesus was always advocating for in his life and ministry. I first and foremost am always going to side with a living, breathing, human woman and what's best for her and for her family situation.

What Bible passages do you cite to justify your position?

Ellis: We have to be really careful when we try to take a topic as complicated as abortion and try to justify it or condemn it through a single verse or a couple of verses that are taken out of context. The Bible is an incredibly complicated book written by multiple people over different historical and social contexts. It could be irresponsible to just pull out a sentence or two and relate them to 21st-century America. The Bible does not talk explicitly about abortion, pro or con in any kind of way. It's just not there.
When I think about the kind of scriptures that people who are anti-abortion pull out, they are often about murder, sexual immorality and blaming women. They are so taken out of context. I fall back to drawing from the life and ministry of Christ. Jesus really advocated for women in a beautiful, unique way for the time period he was living in. Even by being with women and speaking to women, he was honoring them and breaking social conventions. Both in Jesus's day and in our day, women's bodies are too often tossed aside. I Think Jesus would not approve of that.

There are biblical stories where Jesus advocated for and empowered women. In John 4: 1-42, Jesus engaged with the woman at the well and empowered her to spread his teachings. In Luke 8: 43-48, Jesus dropped everything to speak with and help the woman who touched his garment. And in Matthew 28: 1-20, Jesus entrusted the good news of his resurrection to women.

What is the biggest myth people have about people who share your position?

Ellis: I wish people would understand that you can be a Christian and not oppose abortion. Just because somebody is pro-choice doesn't mean that they hate life or babies or the Bible or God. The power of the religious right is so strong that so many Christians have a hard time conceiving that somebody could be on the other side of this issue. But to echo Randall Balmer [a historian who is an authority on the religious right], the religious right was created to oppose desegregated schools. The change in focus to being anti-abortion took place to gain political power. People have very real commitments and moral beliefs on both sides of it. So I'm not saying that someone who is "for life" is corrupt and just seeking power, but that is how the religious right movement was founded. It's always going to be tainted because of that.

Can a person who opposes your position on abortion still legitimately call themselves a Christian?

Ellis: I obviously disagree with people who oppose abortion, but that doesn't mean that they can't be a Christian just because I personally disagree with them. Who am I to say who can or cannot be a Christian? That's really only God's business. I think we have to stop this intense gatekeeping that we have on Christianity, particularly when our gatekeeping is just based off of an issue like abortion that is not talked about in the Bible.
When Jesus asked people to follow him, you didn't have to pass some sort of moral or political checklist first. I grew up in West Texas in a very religious and very conservative environment. I know so many people who are anti-abortion because of their faith. I obviously disagree with them personally because of my faith, but I don't think that means that they aren't good people, or they aren't good Christians, much less than they're not Christians at all.

Read the Full Article Here

 

Divinity Diversity Dialogue: Listening and Learning Our Way To the Beloved Community by Rev. Cheryl R. Harris (STH’09)

The beloved community is within our grasp. Informing, challenging, and equipping readers to lead effective conversations, this book is meant to be lived; to open into the experience of a whole life in community through the effective, structured tool of dialogue. The reader is presented with clear, compelling explanations of how systemic racism operates in American society, why transformative dialogue is an effective tool to address it, and how to facilitate authentic conversations in which multi-racial participants embrace controversy with civility, lean into discomfort and cultivate engaging actions toward eliminating racism to become a society characterized by equity, justice and joy.

Divinity, Diversity and Dialogue: Listening and Learning Our Way To the Beloved Communityinforms, challenges and equips readers to lead effective conversations and cultivate engaging actions toward eliminating racism and becoming a society characterized by equity, justice and joy.

The accompanying workbook, Divinity, Diversity and Dialogue: Practical Resources to Help Facilitate Transformative Racial Dialoguesprovides clearly stated instructions and doable exercises for facilitators to lead group conversations about race and racism.

Cheryl Harris, M.Div

Cheryl Harris, M.Div., is a seasoned consultant, executive coach, manager and workshop facilitator with more than 30 years of business experience in diverse environments.

Cheryl works with public, private, non-profit, churches and faith based organizations that express a need for systemic, enduring change.

She models a holistic approach to consulting that enables clients to rethink societal constructs and become more aware of decisions that may be based on unconscious bias. Cheryl consults from her unique experiences in change management, cultural assessments, theology, diversity initiatives, and board level consulting.

She holds a BA in English Literature from Emmanuel College and a Master of Divinity Degree from Boston University, School of Theology. Cheryl has held the following leadership roles: Managing Partner of Ibis Consulting Group, Inc.; Director of Human Resources at Executive Perspectives in Boston, MA; Director of Operations, Director of Customer Service and Human Resources Manager at Delta Dental Plan of MA.

Get your copy of the Divinity, Diversity and Dialogue: Listening and Learning Our Way To the Beloved Community from here on Amazon.

Get the accompanying workbook, Divinity, Diversity and Dialogue: Practical Resources to Help Facilitate Transformative Racial Dialogues, from here.

Dr. Pamela Jolly (STH’09) Featured by The Kansas Reflector on Economic Parity

Below is an excerpt of the article "This Juneteenth, let’s redefine freedom as parity" by Mark Mccormick. The article was published by The Kansas Reflector on June 19. The full article can be found here.

This Juneteenth, let’s redefine freedom as parity

As we approach our second Juneteenth national holiday, the nation should ponder its definition of freedom. The holiday marks the moment in time when enslaved people in Texas learned they’d been freed from one type of bondage.

But by virtually every social and economic measurement, African Americans have in succession traded one form of bondage for another, from chattel slavery to convict leasing, to sharecropping, to Jim Crow, to today’s mass incarceration.

This Juneteenth, African Americans should consider a new standard for freedom — economic parity. A dear friend, Dr. Pamela Jolly (STH '09), the CEO of Torch Enterprises, has supported this kind of metric for years. Real parity, she said, begins with understanding our individual and collective contributions to building economic power.

...

Jolly, a graduate of the Wharton School of Business and Boston University’s School of Theology, has worked as a credit analyst, a vice president of treasury management, and helped launch financial initiatives designed to educate and inform about the critical role of legacy wealth in the Black community and ways to pursue it. She has hosted legacy wealth cohorts in cities nationwide. She has lectured in Korea, Egypt, Nigeria, Jamaica, China and England.

Her firm’s name, Torch Enterprises, references passing the torch of wealth from one generation to another. Since emancipation, the African American journey toward cross-generational wealth has met with systemic roadblocks. Gaps formed and grew, and not just financial ones.

Read the full article here.

Mr. Gerald C. Ellis (STH’68)

This obituary was originally published in the Bangor Daily News and can be found here.

ZEPHYRHILLS, FL - Jerry Ellis was born on December 5, 1941, in Farmington, Maine. He died May 9, 2022, in Wesley Chapel, Florida with Ronnie, his beloved wife of 45 years by his side. He faced various challenges in his childhood which led him in his adolescence to running which became a passion and refuge. An accomplished athlete at both Phillips High School and the University of Maine, he won various competitions at the state and New England level in cross country and track. His love of athletics continued throughout his life culminating in riding his road bike from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean and from Canada to Mexico (the latter with his youngest son, Lucas, daughter- in-law, Amy and wife, Ronnie). In addition to biking, Jerry completed 3 marathons including qualifying and running the Boston Marathon. His brotherhood in Phi ETA Kappa brought lifelong friendships as did his involvement in the University of Maine M Club. Jerry was inducted into the University of Maine's Sports Hall of Fame in 2019.

As a young man he walked in protest for civil rights in Selma, Alabama (1965) and later served in Vietnam vowing to serve his country but in his own way in peaceful service. He was awarded two Bronze Stars for meritorious service while serving as a U.S. Army Captain. His service was as an American advisor to a South Vietnamese unit during its Hearts and Minds campaign. He found his vocation in counseling and eventually returned home to Maine. By this time he had completed his undergraduate degree at UMaine, a master in Divinity at Boston University and a master's degree from the University of Oregon in Counseling. Professionally he worked at UMaine in the Onward Program dedicating his time, energy and love to helping non-traditional students get a college education. Many will remember him for his unwavering kindness and compassion for his students and coworkers. He embodied servant leadership being selected to run Onward as Director at UMaine but was also recognized in New England when he was selected to preside over NEAOPP (an organization focused on support for non-traditional and first generation students). His compassion and leadership will be remembered by many through different aspects of his career but remembered by his son, Nick, during the annual Onward orientation for leaving no one behind during the annual hike of Mount Katahdin. He guided many through treacherous terrain getting them home safely late into the night. Other favorite pastimes in his life included gardening (master gardening credentialed), reading, traveling, meditation, working with Habitat for Humanity and helping with construction of the Orono Bog Boardwalk. Throughout his life, Jerry gave a helping hand to many people during their most difficult times always with kind, patient, loving support.

If athletics was his refuge and service his profession, his family was his greatest love. He leaves behind his wife, Ronnie (Delano-Ellis), daughter, Christine Ann Ellis McLaughlin (mother: Ann Perkins Ellis), two sons, Nicolas Gerald Ellis and his wife, Angie of Lima, Peru and Lucas Delano Ellis and his wife, Amy of Corvallis, Oregon; and grandchildren, Maeve Christine McLaughlin, Patrick Matthew McLaughlin, Tomas Santiago Ellis, Benjamin Lester Ellis, Brianna Delano Ellis and little Luca Joaquin Ellis. Jerry is also survived by brother, Fred E. Rolfe Jr. and his wife, Noralyn of Bradford, Maine; sister-in-law, Renee Rae Delano of Orrington, Maine; sister-in-law, Lauralee Ellis of Nashua, NH, brother-in-law, David Morgan of Phillips, Maine; and aunt, Greta Pratt of Weld, Maine. There are several nieces and nephews who he loved dearly and followed their lives with passion. Jerry was predeceased by five younger siblings, Rex Scott Ellis, Lynn "Butch" Ellis, Anita Chase Dunham, Nancy Lee Ellis Morgan and Elizabeth "Snip" Rolfe. Over the years he had numerous riding buddies who biked hard and long. He respected these riders and will be missed by his Florida riding mate of over 10 years, Alan Gosley (wife Karen) of Cow Bay, Nova Scotia.

Adored by many, one student in particular started a scholarship in his name, the Jerry Ellis Scholarship Fund. In life he supported this fund and in his passing his family asks you to consider support of this scholarship so that the spirit of Jerry will live on helping students on their path at UMaine. Gifts may be made to the University of Maine Foundation, Two Alumni Place, Orono, Maine 04469-5792 or online at umainefoundation.org/memorial for the Jerry Ellis Scholarship.
His family welcomes others to join them in a celebration of his life on Sunday, June 26, 2022, at 101 East Broadway, Bangor, Maine at 2 p.m.

Ronald L. Huff, D.Min. (STH’87)

This obituary was originally published in Waite & Son Funeral Home and can be found here.

Ronald L. Huff Sr., 84, beloved husband of Celia (Mong) Huff, went to be with his Lord and Savior on March 9, 2022.  Ron was born November 16, 1937 to the late John N. and Roxie (Lesh) Huff.  He graduated as an auto mechanic in 1955 from Oil City High School in Oil City, PA.  In 1964, Ron accepted the call to the ministry and earned his Doctor of Ministry degree in 1987.  For over 40 years he served the United Methodist Church in eight different communities while completing his education.

Before going into the ministry, Ronald served in the United States Army, and later the Army Reserves, until he became the father of twins, Ronald Jr. and Rhonda, as well as two older daughters, Diana and Debra.  Three grandchildren, three step-grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren completed his thriving family.   Ron loved all of his family and enjoyed all their activities.  He and Celia celebrated 64 years of marriage in December 2021.

Ron enjoyed singing in the church choir as well as harmonizing in Barbershop choruses.  He also spent a lot of time tending his flowerbeds and growing his garden.  His favorite motto in life was “See a need and meet it.”

Along with his parents, Ron was preceded in death by one brother, John Huff Jr., and two sisters, Lois and Patricia.  In addition to his four children, Diana (Donald) Varian, Debra (Laura Russell), Rhonda (Reginald Campbell), Ron Huff Jr. (Holly), he leaves behind grandchildren, Leslie (Jon) Higgins, Cory Huff (Kaitlynn), Emily (Ignacio Olvera); step-grandchildren, Jennifer, Amanda, and Christopher; 8 great-grandchildren; sister Kathleen Haylett; a sister-in-law, Virginia; and several nieces and nephews.  All will miss his love.

Visitation will be held from 3-4pm on Sunday, March 13 at Waite & Son Funeral Home, 765 N. Court St. in Medina.  Funeral service will begin at 4pm.  Cremation to take place at a later date.  In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Habitat for Humanity of Medina County, 233 Lafayette Rd., Medina, OH 44256.  The family would like to share a special thank you to the staff of Crossroads Hospice and Medina Meadows Care Center.  God bless all who serve!

Rev. Theodore J. Solomon (STH’57)

This obituary was originally published online on May 24, 2022 in Ames Tribune. It can be found here.

May 28, 1932 – May 18, 2022

Theodore (Ted) Joseph Solomon, 89, of Ames, passed away on May 18, 2022 at Northcrest Retirement Community. A memorial service will be held at 11 am on Friday, June 17, at Collegiate United Methodist Church in Ames, with a visitation one hour prior to the service.

Ted was born in Bismarck, ND to Theodore J. and Elizabeth M. (Yeasley) Solomon. Ted graduated from Bismarck High School in 1950, and he was very proud of his North Dakota roots. In 1953, Ted married Marian G. Loomer right before Marian left for India. He attended Hamline University and graduated from Macalester College in 1954. Ted received a Bachelor of Sacred Theology degree from Boston University in 1957. He was pastor of the Worcester Monthly Meeting of Friends in Worcester, MA from 1955 to 1957. Ted was ordained as a Methodist minister in 1957, and was pastor of the United Methodist church in West Concord, MN from 1957 to 1959. Though he officially remained appointed by the United Methodist church, he was drawn to academic life and religious studies. Ted studied under Mircea Eliade and earned his MA and PhD in Philosophy from the University of Chicago in 1961 and 1966. He began his teaching career in 1962 at St. Andrews Presbyterian College in Laurinburg, NC. Ted received a Danforth Teaching Award in 1965. He taught at Florida Presbyterian College in St. Petersburg, FL from 1966 to 1969. During the 1950's and 1960’s, Ted was a member of the Fellowship of Reconciliation and helped organize peace action projects and non-violent direct action for civil rights in the South. He joined the Religious Studies faculty at Iowa State University in 1969. From 1969 to 1994, he was a professor in the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies. Ted received tremendous satisfaction from teaching others, particularly about Christianity and other world religions.

Ted was a member of the Ames Friends Meeting and Collegiate United Methodist Church. He enjoyed the fellowship of Masons, Kiwanis, St. Andrew’s book group, water aerobics and playing cribbage. Instead of saying “goodbye”, Ted always said “Peace and Love”.

Ted is survived by his daughter, Rebecca (Robert) Musselman of Ames; daughter-in-law, Linda Winston of Richmond, VA; one brother, Terry (Sue) Solomon of Tempe, AZ; four grandchildren, Jeff (Christin) Solomon of Kodiak, AK, Eli (Meggan) Musselman M.D. of Ames, IA, Carli Solomon of Denver, CO, and Joshua Curtis of Harrisonburg, VA; and four great grandchildren, Anastasia and Calypso Solomon of Kodiak, AK, and Micah and Madelynn Musselman of Ames, IA.

Preceding Ted in death were his wife, Marian Solomon; his sons, Robert Solomon M.D. of Williamsburg, VA and Richard Solomon of Parker, CO; his brother, Robert Solomon of Tempe, AZ; and grandson, Ezekiel Musselman of Ames, IA.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to the Ames Friends Meeting, 121 S. Maple Ave, Ames, IA 50010 or Collegiate United Methodist Church, 2622 Lincoln Way, Ames, IA 50014.