EDS at Union Newsletter | June 2020

EDS at Union Newsletter | June 2020

Categories: EDS at Union, EDS Newsletter

Where Faith and Scholarship Meet to Reimagine the Work of Justice

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Dear Friends,

These past few months have revealed that our nation and the world need faithful, moral leadership now more than ever.

During this extraordinary season, the global community continues to experience the death and suffering of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, as well as protests across the country for racial justice in light of the recent murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery. Faith leaders across the nation are called to provide clear moral leadership amidst these challenging times in which people are yearning for a more just earth.

It is for such a time as this that EDS at Union exists. As Dean, I am proud that the Anglican Studies program focuses on preparing moral faith leaders for the challenges of our world today.

As this video on “A Day of the Life in COVID-19” highlights, there have been both profound challenges as well as moments of learning and joy. EDS at Union has hosted a series of honest conversations on what it means to be Church amidst COVID-19. In May we celebrated the first two graduates of this affiliation: Jacob González and Meredith Ward.

Through all of this, I continue to be grateful for your ongoing support, for none of this is possible without you.  I hope that as we begin this summer, all of us will recommit to working toward a just Earth.


The Very Rev. Kelly Brown Douglas, Ph.D.
Dean, Episcopal Divinity School at Union
Bill and Judith Moyers Chair in Theology

Support EDS at Union Students Today!

As COVID-19 resulted in the cancellation of in-person classes, EDS at Union quickly reimagined our programming. This video highlights a Day in the Life of EDS at Union during COVID-19, including how worship and classes moved online. Please support EDS at Union through an online gift today by visiting our online donation page here!

 Virtual Morning Prayer Builds EDS at Union’s Community

In the wake of COVID-19, EDS at Union’s student-led liturgical team developed a simplified, online version of Morning Prayer to create prayerful community during this challenging time. The students put together virtual morning and evening prayer services that allowed the community to resume communal prayer four days a week. With time and practice, these services built an authentic community. The four takeaways they had were: work as a team, give yourself room to experiment, decide on essentials, practice the tech ahead of time, and remember what’s important. You can read more in the article they wrote about how they developed this service with the Episcopal Church Foundation here.

EDS at Union’s recordings of Facebook Live Conversations on the impact of COVID-19 are available here. Be especially sure to check out Dean Douglas’ conversations with:

Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. Alexander is an Op-Ed columnist for the New York Times and Visiting Professor of Social Justice at Union Theological Seminary.

Eddie S. Glaude Jr., chair of the Department of African American Studies and the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor of African American Studies at Princeton University.

Karenna Gore, founder and director of the Center for Earth Ethics (CEE) at Union Theological Seminary. CEE bridges the worlds of religion, academia, policy, and culture to discern and pursue the changes that are necessary to stop ecological destruction.

Subscribe: EDS at Union Now Podcast

As EDS at Union transitioned into online classrooms, Dean Douglas held a series of conversations with experts around the country on the impact of COVID-19. These are newly available on the EDS at Union Now podcast here.

Be sure to check out the conversations with:

The Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, Co-Chair of the Poor People’s Campaign and the Director of the Kairos Center for Religions, Rights, and Social Justice.

Darnell Moore, author of No Ashes in the Fire and the Director for Inclusion Strategy in Content and Marketing at Netflix.

The Rev. Dr. Pamela Cooper-White on caring for those in abusive relationships and those in recovery during a time of self-isolation and quarantine. Dr. Cooper-White is an Episcopal priest and is the Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of Union Theological Seminary.

News Highlights

Dean Kelly Brown Douglas’ statement on the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Aubrey, and on America’s lost soul. Click here for her full statement.

“George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Aubrey. In response to President John Kennedy’s assassination Martin Luther King, Jr. said “While the question of who killed President Kennedy?” is important, the question of “What killed him?” is more important.” Inasmuch as what is killing black people in this country—be it the racialized realities of a pandemic or racist policing—is about the systemic, structural and cultural realities of white supremacy endemic to the fabric of this country, it is also about much more than that. It is about the collective soul of America.”

Jacob Andrew González and The Rev. Meredith Eve Ward celebrated their graduation twice! Once in a commissioning service with members of the EDS at Union community on May 14th.

The following day they joined the entire Union community to celebrate all graduates. Both graduates were recognized for their academic achievements. Meredith was awarded The James Muilenburg Prize in Biblical Scholarship, and Jacob received Union’s foremost award for academic achievement, the Scholarly Excellence Award. EDS at Union is incredibly proud of our first two graduates! Congratulations to all the graduates of 2020.

Union Theological Seminary held a virtual chapel service to honor the second anniversary of the death of Professor James H. Cone, who served at Union Theological Seminary for 50 years. Dr. Cone known as the founder of black liberation theology was the Bill and Judith Moyers Distinguished Professor of Systematic Theology at Union Theological Seminary. Dr. Cone was best known for his ground-breaking works, Black Theology & Black Power (1969) and A Black Theology of Liberation (1970).

Dean Kelly Brown Douglas offered a reflection on recapturing our humanity amidst the COVID-19 crisis at MoveOn.org. In this video, Dean Douglas very honestly talks about how this crisis has only exacerbated the culture of death that already pervades our economic system which is based on the exploitation of race and class. She reminds us that: “No one is expendable. No one is disposable.”  That we can ask ourselves every day what is one thing that we can do to make someone else’s day a little better? Even from a distance.

Alumni/ae News

The Rev. Dr. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas ’88 delivered the sermon for Washington National Cathedral’s 50th anniversary Earth Day Eucharist. She was a panelist for “Honest to God: Earth Day,” a webinar sponsored by Washington National Cathedral and Office of the Presiding Bishop. She did two live interviews with The Weather Channel about faith, coronavirus, and climate change. As chaplain for the June 27-July 3 session of the 2020 Season of Chautauqua Institution, she will deliver six sermons on the week’s theme, “Faith to Save the Earth.” Chautauqua’s events will be entirely online.

The Rev. Dr. Gail Cafferata ’97 had an article “Gender, Judicatory Respect and Pastors’ Well-Being in Closing Churches” published in the June 2020 issue of Review of Religious Research. The research for this publication was conducted as a Visiting Researcher at Boston University Center for Practical Theology, School of Theology, with financial support from The Louisville Institute’s Project Grant for Researchers. Gail is a Priest Associate at The Church of the Incarnation, Santa Rosa, CA, where she lives with her husband Robert.

The Rev. Dr. Jim Kodera ’83 has served on the Board of Trustees of the General Theological Seminary since 2018, when he was elected to that position during General Convention. He continues in his two vocations: Professor of Religion at Wellesley College since 1976 and Rector, part-time, at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Hudson, MA. Since 2018, he has also served on the Alumni/ae Council of Union Theological Seminary. In the Spring of 2020, he gave a guest lecture in Joshua Samuel’s course at EDS on the history of Christianity in Asia. Notably, in 1985, he was the first Asian American ordained in the Diocese of Massachusetts, Bishop John Coburn, a Union alum.

The Right Rev. Peter Selby ’66 wrote an article arguing against the decision of the Anglican House of Bishops that churches should be closed, not just for public worship (which he thought of as a necessity) but also for clergy to livestream worship.  This led to a flurry of activity, an open letter signed by over 800 people and eventually, a change of heart by the other bishops. Bishop Selby is a retired bishop, having served as Church of England Bishop of Worcester from 1997-2007.

The Rev. Cameron Miller ’80 will be observing 40 years since the date of his ordination to the transitional deaconate this June. At the end of 33 years of full-time parish ministry, which also included years as a college chaplain and adjunct faculty member, he went to in part-time parish ministry in order to launch a writing career. Since 2013, he has published two novels – “The Steam Room Diaries” (DAOwen, CA) and in 2018, “Thoughtwall Cafe” (Unsolicited Press, Portland). This July a collection of his poems and essays will be released, “Cairn” (Unsolicited Press). He is also now serving on the newly appointed task force for the Diocese of Rochester to imagine church for the post-pandemic world.

The Rev. Fred Fenton ’61 greatly appreciated a phone call he received from a volunteer at All Saints Pasadena checking in on him during the time of COVID-19 and inviting him to online worship. Fred lives in Seal Beach, CA.

The Rev. Mwape Musonda-Chilombo ’12 was the first Anglican woman theologian in Zambia Anglican Church and although she was prohibited from ordination because of her sex in the Province of Central Africa, she sought and received ordination in the United Church of Zambia where she served as pastor, teacher and administrator. She teaches at Northrise University as a part time lecturer as well as at Evangelical University as an Adjunct Instructor. Since retiring from active pastoral ministry, she is writing a book, “Woman Theologian Dying for Priesthood: A Personal Odyssey” and other academic publications.

In Memoriam

The Rev. Dr. David Siegenthaller ’55 passed away on April 16, 2020, in his home in Cambridge, MA at the age of 93. He was a long-time faculty member of the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge. He was originally ordained in the Lutheran church but became an Episcopal priest after studying at Episcopal Divinity School. After spending a decade in parish ministry, he returned to EDS to teach. He taught at EDS for forty years. He also cared for the archives and special collections in the library. He was awarded an honorary doctorate and retired with the title, Tutor Emeritus. Please see his full obituary in the Boston Globe.

The Rev. Dr. John Townsend passed away in the early morning of April 21, 2020. He was ordained in 1952 and received his doctorate in New Testament from Harvard Divinity School in 1959. He served as Professor of New Testament, biblical languages, and Jewish Studies at Philadelphia Divinity School and the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, and in retirement taught at Harvard Divinity School. His interfaith work with the Jewish community was very dear to his heart, and the Hebrew language and his study of Judaism impacted his own faith and spirituality profoundly.

John leaves behind his beloved wife Mary, and a son, Bill, daughter-in-law Julie and three grandchildren. (John and Mary’s son Stephen predeceased him.) Mary’s health has declined greatly in the last year, and she now has advanced dementia. Expressions of care by mail only, please, may be sent to her at Evans Park. Condolences should be sent to Bill Townsend at: 31 Country Dr., Weston, MA 02493.