Adjunct/Affiliate Faculty 2019-20
Rev. Timothy Levi Adkins-Jones is the Pastor of the historic Bethany Baptist Church in Newark, New Jersey. A son of the church, Rev. Adkins-Jones was led to Christ at an early age by his grandfather the Rev. Leroy Jones at Pilgrim Journey Baptist Church in his hometown of Richmond, Virginia. Before being called to Bethany, Rev. Adkins-Jones faithfully led congregations in Massachusetts and Connecticut, building a young legacy of community activism and Christian service. He gladly serves as part of the Clergy Caucus for Faith in New Jersey, a non-partisan, multi-faith organization seeking social and economic change through policy and relationships. Embodying the best of the Black preacher-scholar tradition, Rev. Adkins-Jones is a PhD candidate in Practical Theology with a Homiletics concentration at Boston University. He also holds a BA in Psychology from Amherst College, and an MDiv from the Boston University School of Theology. A sought-out lecturer and speaker across the nation, Rev. Adkins-Jones has taught courses in homiletics and polity as an Adjunct Professor at Yale Divinity School, was featured on the “For Your Soul Sunday” Broadcast on SiriusXM UrbanView, and continues to serve his alma mater Amherst College as the Graduate Fellow for the Hermenia T. Gardner Christian Worship Series, a bi-semester worship celebration of the Black Church tradition. Rev. Adkins-Jones is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. He is also the proud husband of Dr. Amey Victoria Adkins-Jones and the father of three loving and amusing souls – Sofia, Ezekiel, and Isabella – who keep him young and busy.
Rev. Dr. Trina Armstrong is Assistant Professor of Pastoral Theology and Pastoral Care and the Director of Pastoral Care and Clinical Training at Garrett-Evangelical. She is an ordained itinerant elder in the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church and a licensed marriage and family therapist providing spiritually-integrated psychotherapy at Cornerstone Counseling Center of Chicago. Dr. Armstrong is a womanist pastoral theologian engaged in research on the impact of slavery trauma and colonization on the wellbeing of African Americans, their families, and relationships. Dr. Armstrong is also engaged in research on de-stigmatizing mental illness and trauma-informed care for African American communities and churches; and pastoral care for loss, grief, death, and dying. Dr. Armstrong has worked with children, youth, couples, and families in community-based counseling settings, adults in outpatient and addiction clinics, transitional homes, and faith-based communities. Dr. Armstrong also served as a hospice chaplain where she provided spiritual care and grief counseling for terminally ill patients and surviving family members. Her book, Womanist Relational Care for Single Black Mothers: Unveiling Trauma and Loss is forthcoming and she is writing a book on trauma-informed pastoral care for Black churches.
Rev. Micah Bucey currently serves Judson Memorial Church of New York City, a congregation committed to curiously seeking the intersections between spirituality, justice, and creativity. At Judson, Micah founded and continues to spearhead Judson Arts Wednesdays (JAW), a weekly art and food gathering that provides free meals for guests in need and developmental space for artists in need, colliding all in a program that addresses both food justice and the art community’s constant lack of resources and support. Over the course of its nine seasons, JAW has fed thousands and nurtured the creative output of hundreds. Micah is also a member of InterFilm, the International Interchurch Film Organisation, for whom he has served on the Ecumenical Jury at the Berlin International Film Festival.
Ven. Bhante Buddharakkita, Founder & Abbot, was born and raised in Uganda, Africa. He first encountered Buddhism in 1990 while living in India, and he began practicing meditation in 1993. He was ordained as a Buddhist monk by the late Venerable U Silananda in 2002 at the Tathagata Meditation Center in San Jose, California. He then spent eight years under the guidance of Bhante Gunaratana at the Bhavana Society, West Virginia. Bhante is the founder of the Uganda Buddhist Center in Uganda. Besides spending time at the Buddhist Center in Uganda, he is the spiritual director of Flowering Lotus Meditation Center in Magnolia, Mississippi. He is also on the council of spiritual advisers to the Global Buddhist Relief, New Jersey. Bhante has been teaching meditation in Africa, Australia, Europe, Asia, and the U.S. since 2005. His book, “Planting Dhamma Seeds: The Emergence of Buddhism in Africa”, tells the story of his religious and spiritual work in Africa.
Jawanza Eric Clark
Has an MDiv from Yale Divinity School and a doctorate from Emory University. He is currently Associate Professor of Theology at Manhattan College with a specialty in religious experience, Black Theology and theologies of liberation. He writes of himself: “My primary training is in Protestant Christian theology, with specialization in Black liberation and womanist thought, but I am also interested in comparative theology as it pertains to African religions and African and African-American Christianity.” As for his research interests he writes: “My research investigates the doctrine of the human being to determine whether the indigenous African concept, ancestor, offers a construal of the human being that can address and correct oppressive features of established Protestant approaches to theological anthropology for Black and Womanist theology and the theology of African and African American Christians generally. My research raises questions about theological method and epistemology in a liberationist agenda if indigenous African religions and the black experience are included as theological sources for Black theology. It also explores historical questions regarding black Christian formation in America during the antebellum and early post-bellum periods. I conducted research in Accra, Ghana in 2006 where I studied indigenous African religions and African Christianity among the Akan and Ga peoples.
R. William Franklin
Elected Bishop of Western New York on November 20, 2010 at St. Paul’s Cathedral in Buffalo. He was consecrated as bishop on April 30, 2011. He is the 1057th bishop in the succession of bishops in The Episcopal Church, which is itself rooted in the historic succession of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. Bishop Franklin was serving as the Senior Associate Priest at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Philadelphia, PA, a position he had held since July 2010, at the time of his election. Prior to this, he worked for five years in Italy where he was an Associate Priest at St. Paul’s Within the Walls in Rome. While in Italy, he also served as Associate Director of the American Academy in Rome, a Fellow and Associate Priest of the Anglican Centre in Rome and Vicar of the Church of the Resurrection in Orvieto. Earlier in his career he was Dean of Berkeley Divinity School at Yale. He was also a professor at General Theological Seminary and at St. John’s University in Minnesota. Bishop Franklin was born in Brookhaven, MS, on January 3, 1947. He holds a B.A. from Northwestern University and a Ph.D. in Church History from Harvard. In the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe, Bishop Franklin served as a member and as president of the Council of Advice and as a member of the leadership team and Weaver for Transformed by Stories Christian Formation Program in the European Institute of Christian Studies. As a member of the laity, he served in the Diocese of Minnesota on the Standing Committee and as Chairman of the Board of the Episcopal House of Prayer Retreat Center. For the National Church, he served on the Standing Commission on Ministry Development and as Chair of its Theological Committee, the Standing Commission on Ecumenical Relations, and was appointed a Consultant to the 1998 Lambeth Conference of Bishops by the Archbishop of Canterbury. He and his wife, Carmela Vircillo Franklin, who is a scholar in medieval studies at Columbia University, have been married since 1971. They have two adult daughters.
As head of Coalition for the Homeless, Dave Giffen continues to push New York City officials to make more housing resources available to low-income New Yorkers. Giffen, who started volunteering in 1988 for the organization that helps homeless individuals and families navigate the shelter system – through crisis services, job training and housing assistance – became its executive director in 2012.
A psychoanalyst and craniosacral therapist in private practice in New York City. Sarah is a lecturer at Union Theological Seminary; a faculty member, supervisor, and training analyst at NIP TI; a faculty member at the Stephen Mitchell Center for Relational Studies; and a consultant and trainer at the Center for Spirituality and Mental Health in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. www.sarahhilltherapy.com
A psychoanalyst based in New York City with a focus on the clinical applications of Buddhist meditation practice. Dr. Jennings has been working with patients and their families in private practice and through the Harlem Family Institute since 2000. She is a long-term practitioner of Tibetan Buddhism in the Sakya lineage. She is a Visiting Lecturer at Union Theological Seminary; Columbia University; and a Faculty Member of the Nalanda Institute for Contemplative Science. Publications include “East of Ego: The Intersection of Narcissism and Buddhist Meditation Practice,” “I’ve Been Waiting for you: Reflections on Analytic Pain,” “Imagery and Trauma: The Psyche’s Push for Healing,” and Mixing Minds: The Power of Relationship in Psychoanalysis and Buddhismreleased through Wisdom Publications. Her most recent book: To Heal a Wounded Heart: On the Transformative Power of Buddhism & Psychotherapy in Action, was released in December 2017 and explores her entry into analytic work with her first patient.
Rebecca O. Johnson
Rebecca works with environmental, racial and other grassroots social justice organizations in eastern and southern parts of the U.S. Founder and former Executive Director of Cooperative Economics for Women, Rebecca organized with immigrant and refugee women living in the greater Boston area. She was on the Graduate Faculty of the Health Advocacy Program for ten years, teaching History of Health Care in the United States, Program Design and Evaluation and Capstone Seminar and developed the End of Life Care Program at Sarah Lawrence College. Rebecca’s areas of expertise include environmental justice and community organizing, housing development, organizational and fund development, participatory action research, oral history and other forms of community history research. She is author/editor of many articles, reviews and reports, including A Lot Like War: Petro-Capitalism, “Slow Violence” and the Struggle for Environmental Justice, forthcoming Fall 2019, Social Justice Journal, The Exodus of the People of Mossville, Race, Poverty and the Environment, Brothermen, In Lieu of Flowers, Guernica: A Magazine of Art & Politics, Buddha, Dharma and Community Ministry in the City, in The Arts of Contemplative Care: Pioneering Voices In Buddhist Chaplaincy and Pastoral Work, Cheryl Giles and Willa Miller, eds. (Wisdom Press, 2012); Dukkha for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner, Inquiring Mind Magazine, 2012, Plastics on My Mind, Race-Talk, 2010; “The Right To Health,” The Boston Principles on the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of Noncitizens, Northeastern University Law School, Hope Lewis et al, eds, May 2011; Carried Away, Obit-Magazine, 2010; Lonesome Refugees, a consideration of the 1927 Flood and its impact on the African-American migration to Chicago (Callaloo, 2007), We Want To Be At The Table: Helping Environmental Groups Rebuild After Katrina, (Environmental Support Center, 2006)
Rev. Dr. Sarah Lenzi serves as Minister of the Unitarian Society of Ridgewood, NJ. She earned her MDiv from Harvard Divinity School and her MA and PhD from the University of Pennsylvania. Her academic work has focused on the intersections of theology, art and architecture in the Medieval monastic context and her thesis, turned book, explores the creation and portability of ritual by interrogating the relationship between pilgrimage to Jerusalem, Medieval monastic meditation, and the ritual of the Stations of the Cross.
Founding Vice President for Faculty Affairs & Professional Development and Professor at SUNY Downstate’s College of Medicine, School of Public Health, and College of Health Related Professions. From 2000-2014 he worked at NYC Health & Hospitals, as Director of Community and Ambulatory Psychiatry at Bellevue Hospital Center, Director of Psychiatry at Queens Hospital Center, and lastly as Director of Psychiatry and Deputy Executive Director of Kings County Hospital Behavioral Health Service. Previously, he served in various leadership roles in psychiatry at Lenox Hill Hospital from 1987-1999 where he was the founding chair of the hospital ethics committee and consultation service. Dr. Merlino is a Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, a Fellow of the American College of Physicians, a Fellow of The New York Academy of Medicine, and a Life Fellow and former President of the American Academy of Dynamic Psychiatry and Psychoanalysis. He is a member of the Group for the Advancement of Psychiatry (GAP), GAP Board of Directors and founding chair of the Committee on Administration & Leadership. Dr. Merlino has co-edited four books on topics including disaster psychiatry, Freud, and an oral history of the homosexual rights movement in American Psychiatry. His most recent book (2014) is on the use of the Toyota lean approach to quality transformation in behavioral healthcare. Dr. Merlino received his medical degree from New York Medical College and Master of Public Administration from Baruch College.
A Buddhist scholar, teacher, and writer living in Amherst, MA. Trained at Lancaster University (UK), the University of Sri Lanka (Perediniya), and Harvard, he spent 25 years in Barre, MA in leadership roles, first at IMS and then at BCBS. He has taught at numerous New England colleges, was a senior scholar at the Mind & Life Institute working on the Mapping the Mind project and has been a longtime member of the Institute for Meditation and Psychotherapy. Andrew has contributed chapters to many books on Buddhist psychology writes regularly for Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, and is the author of Unlimiting Mind: The Radically Experiential Psychology of Buddhism (Wisdom, 2010) and Untangling Self: A Buddhist Investigation of Who We Really Are (Wisdom, 2016). He has also created a number of online courses as the senior scholar of the Integrated Dharma Institute (integrateddharmainstitute.org).
Rev. Dr. Joshua Samuel is Visiting Lecturer for Theology, Global Christianity, and Mission at the Episcopal Divinity School at Union. He previously taught in the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at the Marymount Manhattan College, New York. Samuel completed his Ph.D. in Theology and Interreligious Engagement in 2017 at the Union Theological Seminary, New York. He is an ordained minister of the Church of South India, and is currently serving as a Priest in the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island, NY. Samuel has published articles in peer-reviewed academic journals such as Interreligious Studies and Intercultural Theology, Bangalore Theological Forum, and Religious Theory, and lectured and presented papers at various fora like the World Christianity Conference (March 2019), Princeton Theological Seminary, AsiaNetwork Annual conference (2015 & 2016), St. Louis, MO, and the “Engaging Particularities” Conference (March 2014) at the Boston College. At present, Samuel is working on his book, Untouchable Bodies, Resistance, and Liberation: A Comparative Theology of Divine Possessions (Leiden: Brill).
A native New Yorker, trained as a classical double bass player at the Juilliard School, earning a Doctorate of Music. He has appeared with many of the major musical institutions of the New York area and has toured across North and South America, Europe and Asia, including a historical performance with the New York Philharmonic in Pyongyang, North Korea. A student of Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi for many years, he had studied the Pāli suttas, the Pāli Language, and Abhidhamma under his tutelage. He has also participated in numerous meditation retreats with Sayalay Susīlā and Bhante Gunaratana.
Simran Jeet Singh
A visiting scholar at NYU’s Center for Religion and Media, where he is currently on a post-doctoral fellowship with the American Council of Learned Societies. Simran is a Senior Fellow for the Sikh Coalition and a columnist for Religion News Service. He earned his graduate degrees from Harvard University and Columbia University, and completed his dissertation on Guru Nanak and the Puratan Janamsakhis. Simran recently sold his first children’s book, a biography of the oldest marathoner in history, and he is currently working on a book about what we can learn from Sikh wisdom and history to help us navigate our troubling times. Born and raised in San Antonio, Texas, Simran is a diehard Spurs fan and avid marathoner. He currently lives all the way on the Upper East Side with his wife and two daughters.
Director of the Kairos Center and a Founder and the Coordinator of the Poverty Initiative. She has spent the past two decades organizing amongst the poor in the United States, working with and advising grassroots organizations with significant victories including the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, the Vermont Workers Center, Domestic Workers United, the United Workers Association, the National Union of the Homeless and the Kensington Welfare Rights Union. She has led hundreds of trainings, Bible studies, and leadership development workshops; spoken at dozens of conferences and keynote presentations across the US and globally; and published several articles and book chapters sharing her vision that poverty can be ended and that the poor can be agents of social change. Liz received her BA in Urban Studies from the University of Pennsylvania; her M.Div. from Union Theological Seminary in 2004 where she was the first William Sloane Coffin Scholar; and her PhD from Union in New Testament and Christian Origins. She is the author of Always with Us?: What Jesus Really Said about the Poor (Eerdmans, 2017). Liz is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA).
Margaret Moers Wenig
Praxis, as “the combination of theory and practice” or “a cycle of action-reflection-action,” characterizes the work of Rabbi Margaret Moers Wenig who has served as a congregational rabbi and a teacher at HUC-JIR. Seminary teaching informed her rabbinate and her rabbinate informed her seminary teaching. She is both a teacher of liturgy and an innovative liturgist, both a challenging and widely published preacher and a teacher of preaching. Wenig was the first Jew elected to the Presidency of the Academy of Homiletics, where, for 25 years, she was the only Jewish member. She was the subject of profiles in The New York Times “Experience Necessary,” by Ralph Blumenthal, August 31, 2009, and in NY Jewish Week“ Long on Vision: In her 10 years there, Rabbi Margaret Moers Wenig has transformed congregation Beth Am in Washington Heights,” earlier, New York Jewish Week named Rabbi Wenig one of “45 for Tomorrow: A new generation of young Jewish leaders to take the New York Jewish Community into the 21st Century” for she is often among the pioneers in endeavors which the mainstream Jewish community subsequently undertakes. Wenig’s 1975 Siddur Nashim (with Naomi Janowitz) was the first to use feminine imagery for God. (That work was the subject of a recent undergraduate thesis, “Blessed is She Who In the Beginning Gave Birth: An Intellectual History of the Brown University Women’s Minyan and the Student Pioneers of American Jewish Feminism,” by Sienna Lotenberg, for the History Department at Brown University.) Her 1990 sermon, “God is a Woman and She is Growing Older,” has been published ten times (three times in German) and preached by rabbis from Australia to California. Her 1985 resolution (written with Rabbi Margaret Holub) was a catalyst for the creation of the CCAR’s “Task force on Homosexuality and the Rabbinate” whose report, adopted in 1990, endorsed the ordination of lesbian and gay rabbis. Her “Guidelines for Welcoming Lesbian and Gay Jews into the Synagogue” (developed for a UAHC regional Biennial) has been published and used in the Reform, Reconstructionist and Conservative movements. Her sermons “The Gay Community’s Stake in Same Sex Marriage” and “The Jewish Community’s Stake in Same Sex Marriage” were preached at a time when much of the lesbian and gay community opposed seeking civil marriage rights and the Jewish community had barely begun to discuss it. The resolution she wrote and, with Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum and Russell Pearce, submitted to the Commission on Social Action (in 1995) led to the Reform movement’s earliest endorsement of civil marriage for same sex couples. Her “Tribute to Alexander Schindler” and her contribution to the festschrift in his honor (see Publications, below) are the first published histories of the initially slow move by the Reform movement to embrace gay-rights and gay- Jews. The school-wide seminars she organized at HUC-JIR, NY (in 2002 at the invitation of Dean Panken z”l) and at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College (in 2003) were the first in any rabbinical school to address psychological, legal and religious issues affecting people who are intersex or transsexual. For a day-long workshop at Congregation Beth Simchat Torah in NY, she created (with, then Rabbinic-Intern Reuben Zellman) a “Transgender Museum” with multiple exhibits participants could view at their own pace. As part of a panel, her sermon that day, “How Do You Say ‘Transsexual’ in Hebrew?” explored the spiritual lessons she has learned from transsexuals. Rabbi Wenig’s coalition building between Jews and Latinos in Washington Heights won her congregation an Irving Fein award (1991). She has co-taught with Christian colleagues in congregations, for the US Navy, at Auburn Seminary and at the North American Academy of Liturgy. Following an illustrious line of America’s most famous preachers, Rabbi Wenig has preached on “30 Good Minutes” a production of the long-running “Chicago Sunday Evening Club” aired on Chicago Public Television and cable T.V.’s Odyssey” channel. Her sermons have been included in Christian journals and numerous sermon-anthologies. In 2006/5766 (a year Ramadan and Rosh Hashanah coincided) she devoted all of her High Holiday sermons to exploring the historic rift between Islam and Judaism; and on Yom Kippur afternoon she and the members of Beth Am welcomed the responses of two Muslim leaders (the local City Councilman and the former Community Board Chair). Wenig was among the first rabbis, outside of a gay-outreach congregation, to preach about AIDS (1985) and to provide pastoral care for people with AIDS. She was the first rabbi to teach (with the camp doctor, an epidemiologist) about AIDS and safe-sex in a UAHC camp (1987). Her congregation began raising money for people with AIDS through GMHC’s very first AIDS WALK (1987). In 1988 Rabbi Wenig appeared on ABC’s daytime soap opera “All My Children” with three Christian colleagues. They played themselves, as members of the Interfaith Pastoral Care Service of the AIDS Resource Center, of which Wenig was then the only Jewish member. Her liturgy for families of the mentally ill (composed with Miriam Frank Ph.D.) was the first of its kind. Her arguments for truth-telling in eulogies (in Reform Judaism and The Reconstructionist, Spring ’01) have changed the way many people think about funerals.
Co-Coordinator of Poverty Scholarship and Leadership Development at the Kairos Center, National Political Educator for the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, and Lecturer in Practical Theology at Union Theological Seminary. She holds a PhD in Christian Social Ethics from Union Theological Seminary. Her dissertation, “‘Freedom Church of the Poor’: Martin Luther King Jr’s Vision for a Poor People’s Campaign and Its Lessons for Today,” lifts up King’s 1968 convening of a multi-racial leadership of the poor as a transforming force for moral and structural change that could end the enmeshed evils of racism, poverty, and war. Her work in theological ethics is biblically centered, rooted in the growing leadership of the poor who refuse the evils of today, and seeks new forms of religious leadership. She is frequently invited to teach the history of the 1968 Poor People’s Campaign in academic, congregational, and community settings and has developed numerous bible studies, sermons and workshops on the social and economic crises of today and the biblical vision for their abolition. Originally from Marietta, Georgia and raised in the United Methodist Church, Colleen has worked for twenty years at the intersection of religion and social transformation. She was the first religion and social justice major at Agnes Scott College, with a thesis on racial justice and liberative pedagogies. She was part of the inaugural year of the Interfaith Service House and worked as a tenant organizer in Chicago. Colleen has been part of the Kairos Center’s Poverty Initiative since 2004, including editing five books as the Publications Coordinator and supporting the development of a national network of religious leaders dedicated to a movement to end poverty as the Fellows Program Coordinator. She and John Wessel-McCoy have two children, Myles and Josephine.