What a year we have had as we all continue to navigate the loss and hardship of the pandemic as well as the political and social divisions that have defined our nation. As difficult as these times are, Christmas still comes. It comes bringing to us the good news that no matter what God is with us, loving us into a way of peace and justice that is our hope.
We at EDS at Union remain very committed to following the way of love that is God’s. Our students are engaged with ministers, activists and advocates from across the country who are engaged in the work of justice building. In the classroom as well as in worship, the students continue to discern the theological and biblical call to the love that is God’s justice. Here at EDS at Union we remain committed to providing experiences and conversations that push our students to ask new questions and explore new perspectives.
Next semester we will read together Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City. We will bring author Matthew Desmond to campus for conversation about the theological and pastoral significance of the current urban housing crisis.
As the year comes to a close, know that we are grateful for your ongoing support of prophetic seminary education at EDS at Union. It is a long-haul investment in a world that needs long-haul commitments. Please know that you are in our prayers and I wish you a joyous Christmas season filled with the love of God.
The Very Rev. Kelly Brown Douglas, Ph.D.
Dean, Episcopal Divinity School at Union
Bill and Judith Moyers Chair in Theology, Union Theological Seminary
Every student – whether enrolled or graduated – has benefited from the tradition of philanthropic giving to Episcopal Divinity School. Thanks to this generosity, EDS at Union will continue to build on its legacy of transformative theological education, academic excellence, and prophetic thinking. Click here to make your donation. Checks can be mailed to Episcopal Divinity School at Union, 3041 Broadway at Reinhold Niebuhr Place, New York, NY 10027.
In November, EDS at Union mourned the sudden passing of Dr. Luc El-Art Severe, a first-year Anglican Studies student whose warm, friendly, welcoming, and always wise presence touched each of our lives. The United Way of New York City (UWNYC) offered a moving tribute to Luc. An excerpt notes:
“Luc brought his community-oriented work to United Way of New York City. Here, he was the face and heart of Together We Thrive, a new initiative designed to elevate small Black businesses and Black entrepreneurs in the wake of the pandemic, promoting equity and self-sufficiency in traditionally underserved communities. Under his vision and leadership, he was able to unite the partners, sponsors, and volunteers in providing resources and infrastructure to these communities.”
Each semester, Episcopal Divinity School at Union selects a book that serves as a guiding focus for discussion on justice issues that are critical for faith communities. For Spring 2022, EDS at Union has selected the Pulitzer Prize-winning bestseller Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond. Desmond’s book has been hailed for “transforming our understanding of poverty and economic exploitation while providing fresh ideas for solving one of twenty-first-century America’s most devastating problems.”
As we enter into the holidays, EDS at Union hopes you will:
- Purchase | Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City and spend time in January and February reading the text
- Save the Date | March 10th from 6:00 – 7:30 PM ET for Matthew Desmond’s public address for the EDS at Union Community Read Lecture. We will be sharing more information about this event in the coming months.
- Read | Matthew Desmond’s article in The 1619 Project “In order to understand the brutality of American capitalism, you have to start at the plantation.”
Dean Douglas spoke at the beginning of December with Dr. Maulana Karenga, the Creator of Kwanzaa and the author of Kwanzaa: A Celebration of Family, Community and Culture. Dr. Karenga is also Professor and Chair for the Department of Africana Studies at California State University, Long Beach. Dean Douglas and Dr. Maulana Karenga will discuss how Kwanzaa brings a cultural message that speaks to the best of what it means to be African and human in the fullest sense. Watch the episode here.
More Conversations from Fall 2021:
- Dr. Brittney Cooper, spoke on the importance of telling an accurate and truthful account of American history, focusing on identity and gender politics, specifically around issues facing Black women.
- Dr. Richard Rothstein discussed his book, The Color of Law, which outlines America’s history of intentional, state-sanctioned segregation that produced unfair housing practices, the racial wealth gap, and continued discrimination against people of color in our nation.
- Lonnie G. Bunch III, reflected on his former role as director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture and the importance of telling an accurate and truthful account of American history. In addition, they will discuss criticisms the museum faced and some of the parallels that The 1619 Project has seen since its publishing.
Caption: The Rev. Lorna Woodam ’21 pictured here with EDS alumna the Rev. Elizabeth Myers ’62,
who was of great support to Lorna during her process, at the ordination.
Congratulations to the Rev. Lorna Woodham ’21 who was just ordained in the Diocese of Newark. The Rev. Woodham joins recent alumni/ae the Reverends Carl Adair, Prisca Juyoung Lee-Pae, Lu Zhang, and Mary Barber on their recent ordinations to the priesthood, and to the Rev. Jay O’Rear on his ordination to the Diaconate.
This community is also celebrating the ordination to the Diaconate of the Rev. John Thatamanil, Associate Professor of Theology and World Religions at Union Theological Seminary.
Two-Day Online Intensive Course
Audre Lorde’s Sister Outsider taught by Kelly Brown Douglas: Students will explore Audre Lorde’s landmark book addressing the intersecting and interactive realities of oppression with special concern with issues surrounding race, gender and sexuality. Audre Lorde’s work continues to speak to today as a people as we still struggle to create a world where all of God’s people can thrive and be whole. Heeding Lorde’s words, “Our silence won’t protect us,” this class will include short lectures, panel discussions, and one-on-one interviews with scholars across the field of Womanist Theology and African American history to discuss some of the most pressing issues of injustice. Students are expected to read Lorde’s Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches.
Course will take place Friday, March 4 and Saturday, March 5. Registration will be available soon.
Gospel of Luke taught by Jeremy F. Hultin: This course explores the Gospel of Luke, focusing on the themes it sets forth programmatically in Jesus’ inaugural sermon: “good news for the poor”; “release for the captives”; “freedom for the oppressed”; and “the Favorable Year of the Lord.” Students examine how these topics recur throughout Luke’s narrative, looking closely at the complexities of Jesus’ teachings on economic and societal injustices. The goal is to gain a fuller understanding of what categories like “poor,” “oppressed,” and “captive” meant in Jesus’ time, and how he and his followers envisioned the reversal, renewal, and revolution that might usher in the kingdom of God. This historical and literary analysis can enrich the ways we draw on Luke to inform and inspire our contemporary application and activism.
Course will take place Friday, March 25 and Saturday, March 26. Registration will be available soon.
Spring 2022 Courses
Queer Anglicanism taught by Patrick Cheng: This course studies the history of same-sex-attracted and gender-variant individuals and movements within the Church of England, the Episcopal Church, and the Anglican Communion from the 16th century to today. Topics include looking at scripture, tradition, reason, and experience from the perspective of LGBTIQ Episcopal and Anglican theologians and their allies, as well as through the lenses of queer theology, queer of color theory, and postcolonial thought.
Course will take place every Friday from 9:00 am – 12:00 pm ET during Spring 2022 semester which runs January 31 – May 11. Register here!
EDS at Union held a workshop on ‘Leading Across Differences’ with the Rev. Ranjit K. Mathews, Canon for Mission Advocacy, Racial Justice & Reconciliation. Canon Mathews emphasized vulnerability and lament as avenues for leading in divided communities. He noted, “The journey towards justice and wholeness necessitates building a culture of vulnerability and challenging a culture of perfection. It requires truth telling and allowing ourselves to be unsettled by systemic injustice.”
EDS at Union’s Día de Muertos ofrenda and service reflected on honoring the dead and bearing witness to inequality. Executive Director Miguel Escobar preached. To see photos of this beautiful and moving service, click here. For more information on the service including additional photos and excerpts, click here. #DiaDeMuertos2021
Congratulations to the Rev. Dr. Patrick Cheng, who was asked to deliver this year’s Pitt Lecture at Berkeley Divinity School at Yale. Dr. Cheng is a graduate of Yale College and Harvard Law School as well as of Union Theological Seminary, and serves as Theologian in Residence at St Thomas’ Church, Fifth Ave, New York City. In addition to many other important roles, he also serves as adjunct professor at Episcopal Divinity School at Union Theological Seminary. Dr Cheng’s lecture was entitled “Race and Sexuality in the ‘Regions Beyond’ Towards a Postcolonial Queer Missiology.” Watch the lecture here.
This was an opportunity to learn about Rev. Romo-Garcia’s ministry with Centro Franciscano which includes a feeding program, a “Laundry Love” program in different locations, ESL program, Spanish Literacy program, Homework and Reading Club for elementary school kids, and a food pantry, as well as offering religious services.Dean Douglas in the News
- Dean Kelly Brown Douglas wrote for Children’s Rights about the Biden administration’s recent reversal of a Trump era rule that allowed taxpayer-funded foster care providers to turn away would-be foster parents because of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or religion: “The reversal of an unfair, unloving, and un-god-like policy is a reason to be hopeful during this most hopeful of seasons. And a reason to celebrate being worthy in the name of god.”
- “What’s going on at Catholic University has shown us that people at Catholic University aren’t ready for Black life to reflect not just human life, but also the sacred.” Dean Kelly Brown Douglas reflected on the theological significance of “Mama” the stolen Black icon at Catholic University.
- Dean Douglas spoke at The Oxford Centre for Religion and Culture and Ripon College Cuddesdon as part of their lecture series, “Will the Sun Ever Set? Decolonising Theological Education in Anglicanism and Beyond,” which aims to answer the question of how it is possible to have leaders in the church who are shaped by the radical inclusivity of God, when much of the church’s culture and history is shaped by colonialism. More information about the program can be found here.
- This past October, Dean Douglas preached at Washington National Cathedral on Mark 10:17-31, the story of Jesus’ encounter with the rich young man. “Jesus was making clear to the rich man that he could not inherit wealth and eternal life at the same time. Put another way, if you want eternal life, you must give up a way of life that promises riches and wealth for some but not for others. ‘How can I inherit eternal life?’ the rich young man asked. ‘You must do nothing less than give your riches to the poor.'” Watch the whole sermon here.
- Linda Aristondo ’23 has been selected as a Columbia University Public Humanities and Arts Graduate Fellow in The Zip Code Memory Project, which seeks to find community-based ways to memorialize losses from the pandemic in upper New York City Neighborhoods. In January, Linda will lead a three-part webinar series at Trinity Wall Street, her field education site, on the role of refugees, migrants, and immigrants in the Bible and contemporary times. She is also serving on TEC’s Design Team for the upcoming Seminarians of Color Conference in Miami, Florida.
- Maryann Philbrook ’22 has been very busy! She is a postulant in the Diocese of Bethlehem, where she plans to work after graduation. Over the summer she received a grant from the Episcopal Evangelism Society which funded the creation of the Miracle Messages Podcast. Released in November 2021, this is a four part series that brings the stories of unhoused people from San Francisco directly to you! She was elected to the position of Co-Chair of the Student Senate for the Spring Semester. She is looking forward to being the Co-Chair and finishing her thesis in her final semester. She has also written Bible Studies for Sermons that Work which will be published in 2022.
- Tom Thomas ’24 is a member of the Parish of Trinity Church Wall Street, where he is active in their Social Justice outreach. The focus of his ministry is Prison Chaplaincy and helping those returning to gain the skills and tools necessary to rebuild their lives, one step at a time. He is pleased to share that he has been named Co-Chair of Trinity’s Task Force on Prison Ministry, continuing a highly respected outreach with years of advocacy and witnessing in support of repairing the breach.
- The Rev. Cn. Lydia Bucklin ’15 has accepted the position of Project Manager for the Mutual Ministry Initiative (MMi) at Virginia Theological Seminary. The grant-funded project will create opportunities for seminarians to study baptismal ministry and serve in field placements in places like the Diocese of Northern Michigan. It will also improve access to historic and current resources from the movement of shared ministry by gathering them all in one place. Lydia will continue in her current position in the Diocese of Northern Michigan, working half time in each.
- The Rev. Dr. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas ’88 published a sermon in the new collection, Thirsty, And You Gave Me Drink for Cycle C of the liturgical year (all proceeds go to non-profits). She was interviewed by Episcopal News Service on living into the climate crisis with resilience. She gave an address for a panel on “Buddhist-Christian Responses to Ecological Catastrophe and Climate Change,” at the AAR Annual Meeting. On January 25 (10:00 a.m. EST) she will offer a free public webinar with Rev. Dr. Jim Antal on preaching hope in a climate crisis.
- We extend our healing prayers to The Very Rev. Tom Chesterman ’56 who recently fell and fractured his hip upon moving into a new apartment in Santa Rosa.
- The Rev. Lori Tucker Exley ’16 was made Interim Pastor-in-Charge at Redemption Episcopal Church in Southampton, PA in January 2020, fulfilling her hope to live the gospel in community as a rector of an Episcopal parish.
- The Rev. Robert Gallagher ’71 has written a new book with Sister Michelle Heyne, OA: A Wonderful and Sacred Mystery: A Practical Theology of the Parish Church, published by Ascension Press. In December they joined with Rt. Rev. Poulson Reed, OA, Bishop of Oklahoma, in offering a Zoom Parish Development Clinic for 43 people from across the country and overseas.
- The latest book by Rev. Dr. James W. Jones, ’67, “Living Religion: Embodiment, Theology, and the Possibility of a Spiritual Sense” (Oxford University Press, 2019 recently won an award from the International Society for Science and Religion for the best book on science and religion. He was also recently elected a member of the Society of Ordained Scientists. He and Kathleen have now moved to a retirement community in Red Bank, NJ. He is retired from teaching and almost retired from seeing patients but plans to continue assisting every Sunday at a local parish. Kathleen is working virtually full-time. They send warmest regards to the EDS community.
- The Reverend Ju-young Lee-Pae ’21 was made the Associate Priest for Pan-Asian Ministry at Saint Thomas Church, Fifth Avenue. In her new role, Mother Lee-Pae will provide sacramental and pastoral leadership to the parish and develop initiatives and support networks that are especially mindful of persons and institutions associated with pan-Asian or Asian-American affiliation.
- A book authored by Dr. Charles Patterson ’63, ETERNAL TREBLINKA: Our Treatment of Animals and the Holocaust, is now in 16 languages and is being translated into Chinese. The book explores parallels between modern society’s treatment of animals and the way humans have often treated one another, most notably during the Holocaust.
- Charlene Marie Laure Vincent ’08 was interviewed about her recent book, Return from Exile Revelations from and Anchoress in St. Augustine, on Things Not Seen radio. The hour-long conversation speaks on a variety of topics referenced in her book. Listen to the interview here.
- The Reverend Meredith Ward ’20 is now the Associate Rector for Pastoral Care at St. Bart’s Episcopal Church. Read more about her and her new position here.
- The EDS at Union community was thrilled to welcome back the Rev. Lu Zhang ’21 to preside at the morning Eucharist for All Saints. The Rev. Zhang was recently ordained and serves at the tri-lingual parish of St. George’s in Flushing, Queens.
- It is with heavy hearts that we share the passing of The Reverend Canon Ian Ainsworth-Smith ’71. He is missed by his family and his community, and will always be fondly remembered for his love of adventure and helping out in any capacity he could, even after retirement. He is survived by his wife Jean, their sons Mark and Richard, and four grandchildren. Canon Ian Ainsworth-Smith died on 9 March, aged 79.
- It is with great sadness that we share the passing of The Reverend John Ferris “Jack” Smith ’59. His life was full of beautiful and important work, not only in his parish ministry, but in his activism. He was active in the Civil Rights Movement and marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He also founded and served on the board of the Boston Clergyman’s Consultation Service on Problem Pregnancy, helping women to access safe abortions when the practice was still illegal. He is survived by his two daughters, Sarah and Priscilla, four grandchildren, and his former wife Mary Grace Smith of Wellfleet, with whom he maintained a friendship until his death. He will be deeply missed by his family, community, and all he strived to help throughout his lifetime. The Rev. John Smith died on Oct. 26, 2021 at 86 years old.