As we emerge from a more than 15-month quarantine, we give thanks for God’s faithfulness, we pray for the repose of the souls of those who lives have been lost during this time and we pray for God’s healing peace for all those who grieve.
The crisis of the two raging pandemics of COVID-19 and white supremacy provided us with the opportunity to reflect on God’s call to us as a seminary. And so, during this time, we listened, we learned, and we labored so to respond to the challenge to be a seedbed for God’s just future. I am most proud of the ways in which our students and alumni/ae have shown up in the world, leading us all to a better place, even during these most difficult times.
I hope that in the following e-newsletter you will see the many ways in which the EDS at Union community continues to be faithful to God’s call as a voice on the public square, through the work of our students, and through the transformative ministries of our alumni/ae. Seeing the faithful witness and work of students and alumni/ae gives me hope that our world will be more just.
Being a part of this EDS family that is you all has been a special blessing to me especially during the pandemics. As we re-open to a renewed life together, I pray for your good health and well-being.
The Very Rev. Kelly Brown Douglas, Ph.D.
Dean, Episcopal Divinity School at Union
Bill and Judith Moyers Chair in Theology, Union Theological Seminary
EDS at Union celebrates our 2021 Master of Divinity and Master of Sacred Theology graduates: Carl Adair, Mary Barber, Sabra Jones, Jay O’Rear, Prisca Pae, Emilee Walker-Cornetta, Lorna Woodham, Lu Zhang. Blessings on your ministries!
Graduation ceremony: https://fb.watch/5KaX7vYjGn/
Make a Gift in Support of EDS at Union
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.
EDS at Union celebrated PRIDE this month as we come together as a community with Union Theological Seminary in worship and to honor stories from LGBTQ+ faith leaders! https://utsnyc.edu/celebrate-pride-at-union/
- Emmy-winning and Oscar-nominated director Yance Ford spoke with Dean Douglas about FX’s new six-part documentary series PRIDE, chronicling the struggle for LGBTQ+ civil rights in America from the 1950s through the 2000s. Ford directed Episode 5 – “1990s: The Culture Wars.” Watch the trailer! You can watch the conversation on our Facebook Live page.
You can watch the full series with a Hulu subscription or with a cable subscription.
- In the wake of the Supreme Court decision on Fulton v Philadelphia, EDS at Union held a panel to discuss how religious liberty is being used as a license to discriminate against the LGBTQ+ community. The panel was moderated by Dean Douglas and included the EDS at Union lecturer Rev. Dr. Patrick Cheng, Children’s Rights lawyer Daniel Gerard, and UTS board member Stan Sloan. Watch a recording here.
- Mashable’s article “How to Celebrate Your First Pride” included this advice from Dean Douglas: “Find someone who loves you for who you are,” Dean Douglas said, “and if you can’t find that someone — and I’m serious about this — look in the mirror and say, ‘I love me. And I’m OK.'”
- NBC featured Union students, faculty and alumni/ae in an article and 8-minute video titled “Religion Shouldn’t Conflict With Being LGBTQ, Faith Leaders Say.” Included in the story was EDS at Union graduate The Rev. Mary Barber ’21, an Episcopal minister whose LGBTQ identity was central to her faith journey. Rev. Barber shared, “if I can also provide an example to young people that there’s not only one narrative of religion and faith, that not all religion is hateful towards queer people…that’s an added bonus.”
Upcoming LGBTQ+ Courses
EDS at Union students are in the midst of academic advising sessions for Fall 2021 and Spring 2022. You can see all of the courses students can choose from in the Academic Catalog.
- History of Queer Anglicanism taught by the Rev. Dr. Patrick Cheng. This course will study 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.
- LGBTQ+ Spiritual Care taught by the Rev. Lindsey Briggs, Episcopal priest and spiritual care counselor at Visiting Nurse Services of New York. PS 263. This course will provide a deep dive into the spiritual and emotional needs of LGBTQ+ people. The course will identify distinct barriers to care throughout the diverse communities and populations found under the LGBTQ+ umbrella. Attention will be paid to queer and trans experience at the intersection of race/class/ability and to the particular spiritual needs of LGBTQ+ people throughout the life cycle.
A Pilot Project Launches: Social Justice in the Anglican Tradition
EDS at Union has launched a new online pilot program in Anglican Social Justice. This is a two-year program that brings together a cohort of lifelong learners for conferences, book discussions, spiritual retreats, weekend courses, and lunchtime workshops around important themes of social justice. This program is intended for busy Episcopal laity and clergy who would like to gain a stronger grounding in issues of social justice today. Learn more.
A Conversation with EDS alumna Ruby Sales
On March 24, Ruby Nell Sales, a nationally recognized human-rights activist, and public theologian joined Union President Serene Jones and Dean Kelly Brown Douglas for a public conversation about Ms. Sales’ life. Ms. Sales, an alumna of Episcopal Divinity School, has made the quest for racial justice one of the centerpieces of her work, serving as a consistent advocate for people of color, LGBTQ+ communities, seniors, and women.
In this conversation, they discussed the challenges and celebrations present in both the multiple and universal experiences of women in the church. Watch the video on Facebook Live.
Just Conversations with Dean Kelly Brown Douglas
- Alicia Garza, Principal at Black Futures Lab, discussed Garza’s role as a co-creator of #BlackLivesMatter and the Black Lives Matter Global Network and her current work with the Black Futures Lab. Click here to watch.
- In response to the announcement of the verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial, the Rev. Gayle Fisher-Stewart joined Dean Douglas to reflect on the trial and the significance of the verdict. The Rev. Fisher-Stewart is an Episcopal priest and author of “Preaching Black Lives (Matter)“. Before becoming a priest, The Rev. Fisher spent 20 years working as a police officer for the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Department. Click here to watch.
- Simran Jeet Singh, Senior Diversity & Inclusion Advisor at YSC Consulting and an Adjunct Faculty member at Union Theological Seminary, spoke about the need to work across differences and how compassion and empathy are crucial for racial equity and justice. Click here to watch.
- The Rev. Alfredo Feregrino, Associate Rector of All Saints Church Pasadena, California, discussed his ministry as a church planter and new role at All Saints Church, and strategies for reconnecting congregations to their wider communities. Click here to watch.
- The Rt. Rev. Diana D. Akiyama, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Oregon discussed challenging white supremacist views in the Church, particularly going beyond the black/white dichotomy in racial justice conversations. Click here to watch.
- Maryann Philbrook (expected 2022) is staying busy this summer! She is doing a full-time CPE internship with Urban CPE in Chicago, IL. She also received a grant from the Episcopal Evangelism Society to continue her volunteer work with Miracle Messages creating a podcast series that tells the stories of people who are experiencing homelessness. She will also be completing a grant-funded project from the Davis Projects for Peace. Originally scheduled for summer 2020, she received a grant to create (another) podcast series on the conflict in the Holy Land that specifically focuses on tourism. While doing all of this she also fosters kittens to get them ready to find their forever home with Community Animal Rescue Effort (CARE). She is looking forward to her third year of seminary at EDS at Union and her Field Education with Holy Apostles during her final year.
- Linda Aristondo (expected 2023) is excited to share that she was selected to be a Public Humanities Fellow. The fellows will be working closely with a non-profit. Linda will be working with ZIP Code Memory Project: Practices of Justice and Repair at The Center for the Study of Social Difference (CSSD) with is a run by The Institute for Religion, Culture and Public Life (IRCPL) and the Society of Fellows and Heyman Center for the Humanities (SoF/Heyman).
Dean Douglas in the News
- As part of Thrive Global’s series about 5 Things That Each Of Us Can Do To Help Unite Our Polarized Society, Dean Kelly Brown Douglas was interviewed about what deeply divides the country. “We should commit ourselves to building a society that does not withhold from another that which we would not want withheld from ourselves. This is the first step toward healing our country — for again that which really divides our country is the reality of inequity of opportunity and life-enhancing options.”
- La Reverenda Kelly Brown Douglas fue entrevistada por Univisión después del veredicto sobre Derek Chauvin hace unas semanas. Lee el artículo completo: “El asesinato de George Floyd y otras brutalidades policiales son algo más que ‘manzanas podridas'”, dice Kelly Brown Douglas, Decana de la Episcopal Divinity School del Union Theological Seminary de Nueva York y la primera mujer de raza negra líder de un seminario episcopal. ‘Se trata de algo sistémico, estructural y cultural, y un veredicto no resuelve esos problemas’. (Dean Kelly Brown Douglas was interviewed by the Spanish news organization Univision in the wake of the verdict on Derek Chauvin. The complete article is available below in Spanish. In it, Dean Kelly states “The murder of George Floyd and other acts of police brutality are more than just a case of a few bad apples. This is about a systemic, structural, and cultural problem and one verdict in this case does not resolve these larger issues.”)
- The Very Rev. Kelly Brown Douglas, cautioned in an interview with Episcopal News Service that the lessons learned from the Episcopal Church’s racial audit must go beyond the need to expand representation of people of color in leadership roles. She advocates a more transformational change in Episcopal Church culture, away from the “white gaze, that white way of receiving reality.” The potential ramifications are significant, with nonwhite U.S. residents forecast to outnumber whites by 2045. Without transforming its racial attitudes and priorities, Douglas said, the church will remain unable to embody and serve the communities it is called to serve, fueling an existential crisis. “Inasmuch as our denomination remains a 90% or so white denomination, this conversation’s going to be moot,” she said. The church is “not going to survive.”
- Dean Kelly Brown Douglas was invited to join scholars from a range of religious traditions to write letters to President Biden for his first 100 days in office. In Letter 95, Dean Douglas asked President Biden to declare anti-Blackness a national emergency. “It is time to declare anti-Blackness a national emergency. The interminable lethal police attacks on Black bodies manifestly reveal the state of the emergency.”
Witnessing Against Hate
- The Union Theological Seminary community gathered for a vigil against Asian American Pacific Islander hate. This service included powerful voices from across the Union and EDS at Union community and includes a powerful reading by the Rev. Dr. Su Pak of the names of those murdered in the attack.
- After the incidents of racial hate at the University of the South, eight deans of Episcopal seminaries signed a letter condemning the incident.
- Dr. Will Bronson, ’08, has established a non- profit in Florida. The mission of Enlighten Education Co-op (EEC) is to improve educational outcomes of K-12 public school students. EEC believes that the most achievable, cost efficient, and reasonable way to do this is to simply provide over-stressed teachers with part-time assistants to relieve some of the classroom workload. We intend to hire retired teachers on a part time basis and pay them with money raised through foundations. For more info please see www.EnlightenEducationCo-op.org.
- The Rev. Dr. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas ’88 contributed an article, “Preaching when life depends on it: climate crisis and Gospel hope,” to the Spring 2021 issue of Anglican Theological Review, a special issue on “All Things Hold Together: Intersections in Creation Care.” Her co-edited anthology Rooted and Rising: Voices of Courage in a Time of Climate Crisis was reviewed in the same issue. She was the principal author of a declaration of climate emergency issued by the bishops of the dioceses of Massachusetts and Western Massachusetts on March 23, 2021. She created a 30-minute video to help Christians engage in climate justice advocacy.
- After 7 years as Chaplain of the Episcopal Church at Yale, The Rev. Dr. Paul J. Carling ’02, is retiring. His tenure includes raising the students served from 5 to over 100; expanding the focus from undergrads to grad & professional students, seminarians, and young adults (21-35) in the community; developing strong partnerships and programs across campus and in the community; raising up over a dozen seminarians for ordination; building an endowment to support a full time Episcopal chaplain at Yale in perpetuity; and shifting to a fully student-led ministry. After a summer sabbatical, he will be considering God’s next call.
- The Rev. Dr. Chwoong-Hoh Chah ’04 published his new book, “Christian Knowledge Daniel 12:4,” which is available as an e-Book and Paperback on Amazon as of April 2021.
- The Rev. Dr. Bryan Cones ’13 published an article in the journal Religions, “Essential Workers, Essential Services? Leitourgia in Light of Lockdown on what church liturgies might learn from the Black Lives Matter protests of the summer. His co-edited collection (with Stephen Burns and James Tengatenga) Twentieth Century Anglican Theologians: From Evelyn Underhill to Esther Mombo (Wiley) includes an essay co-authored with Stephen Burns on UTS graduate and EDS emerita professor Carter Heyward.
- The Rev. Canon Georgene “Gigi” Conner ’21 has now retired, for 2nd time and moved to New Orleans. She bought a duplex with her oldest daughter. They each have one side. She is getting adjusted to living in a shotgun house and pot-holed streets that easily flood. She is also hoping to start a blog – Tales from Felicity St. (Felicity means place of happiness/ blessedness.) She spent her career and is still canonically resident in SW Florida.
- The Rev’d Cynthia (Guthkelch) Garman ’95 after graduation served two hospital chaplain residencies in Connecticut and Kansas followed by a Physician Assistant degree from Wichita State University, surprisingly smitten with orthopedics. Moving to parish ministry, Cynthia served as rector, associate, priest-in-charge, and interim (the most satisfying) in churches large and small, in the dioceses of West Missouri, Bethlehem (PA), North Carolina, and Michigan. Cynthia retired May 1, 2021 and lives near Ann Arbor, MI and looks forward to getting involved in community organizing. For those who remember her husband, Norman, he died in 2016 just a month short of his 101 birthday and not long after his fifth marriage.
- Jacob Gonzalez ’20 will be attending Yale Law school in the Fall of 2021. He has additionally received the Samvid Ventures Scholarship to fund his studies.
- The Reverend Ralph Pitman ’72 has published a collection of poems to be released in June 2021. The poems are autobiographical and trace the arc of a family from grandparents to grandchildren. The book will be available through bookbaby.com, or the e-book will be available from Amazon Kindle or most other places where e-books are found.
- The Rev. Dr. Linda Privitera ’06 has remained in Canada during the pandemic. When she is back in the US she often works at St. John’s Cathedral in Jacksonville, FL. She has been offering classes both in Ottawa and with the Cathedral over the past year. Some of her offerings were for a virtual, Contemporary Stations of the Cross. This summer she will be offering a virtual course on “Poetry, Personalities and Portraits” which looks at Biblical characters in depth with scripture, art and poetry as part of a series of offerings on art and spiritual practice through the St. John’s Cathedral, Jacksonville, Fl.
The Rev. Dr. Virginia (Ginny) Peacock ’77, of Stonington, ME, died on February 22, 2021 in Worcester, MA at the age of 79. After graduating from EDS, Ginny earned her PhD from the University of St. Michael’s College (University of Toronto), in 1987. Among the early wave of female Episcopal priests, she was ordained deacon in 1982 and priest in 1983, by the Diocese of Michigan. Through her lifetime she served parishes and university communities in Toronto, ON; Ann Arbor, MI; the Diocese of Northern Michigan; and Deer Isle, ME. Ginny was deeply reflective and loved religious ethics. She believed in the power of love and community. Through her ministries she sought to integrate deep philosophical and ethical questions around existence, into practical meaningful approaches to living life. She is survived by her loving daughters Elizabeth and Deborah, their partners, and six grandchildren. A more extensive obituary can be viewed at https://bostoncremation.org/obituary/reverend-dr-virginia-a-peacock