This season of Lent has been for me both a personal and professional journey of prayerful self-reflection. For, it is for me a time of taking stock on what it means to be created in the image of God. As I often say, that we are each created in God’s image is a fact, that we live into that image is the challenge. And so, on this Lenten journey I pray for the courage and faith to, day by day, reflect the image of a just and loving God.
It is this prayer that, in so many ways, fuels our work at EDS at Union. We remain committed to being a seedbed for God’s more just future by nurturing transformative ministries. This means striving to reflect the image of God in the world as seminary, even as we prepare our students for ministries that will do likewise. Thus, over the spring semester our students have engaged beyond the virtual classroom in virtual conversations with leaders such as Dr. Catherine Meeks from the Absalom Jones Center, discussing the sacred work of racial justice. They are also reading Waste: One Woman’s Fight Against America’s Dirty Secret a story of water and racialized environmental injustice-as they look forward to a conversation with its author Catherine Flowers.
We have continued our Just Conversation series, where I have engaged with leading voices in our church and society about the way to a more just future where all people will be respected as the sacred images of God that they are.
I hope that in the following e-newsletter you will see the many ways in which EDS at Union and our alumni/ae are responding to the challenge of showing forth the image of a just and loving God in our world. I pray for each of you a Prayerful and Blessed Holy Week!
The Very Rev. Kelly Brown Douglas, Ph.D.
Dean, Episcopal Divinity School at Union
Bill and Judith Moyers Chair in Theology, Union Theological Seminary
Apply to EDS at Union
Apply today! EDS at Union is a place where Episcopal faith and scholarship meet to reimagine work of justice. The Master of Divinity in Anglican Studies and Master of Sacred Theology programs bring together rigorous theological formation, Anglican spirituality, and practical leadership skills with an eye toward helping Episcopal faith leaders tackle the most pressing challenges facing our world today. Learn more here.
EDS at Union Received Major Funding!
Racial Justice Fund: We received a $100,000 gift from an anonymous donor for racial justice programming. This donation will expand our racial justice programing, including public courses on Black theology and bringing racial justice organizers into the classroom. The donation also will provide funding for students’ fieldwork, job-shadowing opportunities in communities of color as well as immersion trips to racial justice sites such as Montgomery, Selma, and El Paso where students can learn from on-the-ground racial justice leaders. In addition, this new fund also will provide an opportunity to develop programming for local school children in New York City, such as hosting an annual event on racial justice history that highlights racial justice activists, both historical and current. Learn more here.
Episcopal Divinity School at Union Theological Seminary (EDS at Union) was awarded a grant of $100,000 by Trinity Church Wall Street to expand our capstone moral leadership course and digitize materials and resources. This grant is part of Trinity Church Wall Street’s latest set of grants aimed at building leadership development for people of faith. Our grant will support the expansion of the capstone course, “From Seminary to Ministerial Leadership” to focus on preparing future religious leaders to engage in difficult conversations to help people find common ground on the urgent social justice issues. Learn more here.
April 7 – Spring Community Read of WASTE: One Woman’s Fight Against America’s Dirty Secret – Each semester, EDS at Union selects a book to guide a semester-long discussion on justice issues critical for faith communities to address. This Spring 2021, EDS at Union is partnering with the Center for Earth Ethics and Kairos Center in its selection of Catherine Flower’s new book Waste: One Woman’s Fight Against America’s Dirty Secret. Catherine Flowers is the founder of the Center for Rural Enterprise and Environmental Justice and was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship in 2020. Join us on April 7 at 6pm ET for a conversation with Catherine Flowers. Registration information here.
April 9-10 – Why Pauli Murray Matters, a two-day, online course on Pauli Murray – Register today for this online course on Pauli Murray! More than three decades after her death, the activist, lawyer, and Episcopal priest Pauli Murray remains one of the most compelling and enigmatic figures in Black intellectual history. In addition to playing a pivotal role in both the civil rights and women’s movement, her experiences of being non-binary in race and gender expressed a complex identity. Through this 1-credit, two-day course, the Very Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas invites students and community members to explore Pauli Murray’s legacy in light of where the country and church are today. The course will especially draw from sections of Rosalind Rosenburg’s biography of Murray, Jane Crow. Registration information here.
Please join us for EDS at Union’s upcoming Facebook Live series Just Conversations with Kelly Brown Douglas. In this series of interviews, Dean Douglas will explore the racialized inequities intrinsic to our nation and our collective responsibility to create a more just future.
These 30-minute conversations featured on the EDS at Union Facebook page will invite activists and religious, political, and thought leaders to discuss their work being a champion for justice. Learn more here.
Students Meet with Leaders Across the Church
As part of EDS at Union’s ongoing “informal curriculum”, Anglican Studies students have the opportunity to speak with leaders across the Episcopal Church. Since February, guest speakers have included:
Dr. Catherine Meeks, Executive Director of the Absalom Jones Center for Racial Healing
Mr. Alan Yarborough, Office of Government Relations of the Episcopal Church
The Rev. Canon Rose Duncan, Canon for Worship at Washington National Cathedral
The Rev. Shaneequa Brokenleg, Officer for Racial Justice of the Episcopal Church
The Rev. Sarah Monroe, EDS alumna, Founder and Priest-in-Charge of Chaplains on the Harbor
In partnership with THIRTEEN, Union Theological Seminary screened highlights from the documentary THE BLACK CHURCH: THIS IS OUR STORY, THIS IS OUR SONG and hosted a panel with Dean Douglas, Union Student Kimberly Gordey, and Josef Sorett, Professor of Religion and African American and African Diaspora Studies at Columbia University. The evening was moderated by, Jenna Flanagan, host of MetroFocus on THIRTEEN. Both Dean Douglas and Dr. Sorett are featured in the film. Watch the event here.
Dean Douglas joined Dr. Pamela Ayo Yetunde for a dynamic conversation about Buddhist and Christian womanist liberation. Dr. Yetunde is a co-editor of the recent publication, Black and Buddhist What Buddhism Can Teach Us About Race, Resilience, Transformation, and Freedom (2020). This is part of the ongoing series hosted by Union Theological Seminary, Dharma and Justice Dialogue. Watch the event here.
EDS at Union hosted a virtual panel discussion that focuses on Isabel Wilkerson’s New York Times-bestseller Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents. Our panelists included, Dean Kelly Brown Douglas, Dr. Cheryl Townsend Gilkes, renowned Sociologist and African American Studies professor, and The Rev. Dr. Joshua Samuel, author of Untouchable Bodies, Resistance, and Liberation on a theology of liberation among Hindu and Christian Dalits. They discussed the history and themes explored by the book, and what Ms. Wilkerson describes as America’s hidden caste system, a rigid hierarchy of human rankings that goes beyond race, class, or other factors. Watch the event here.
Just Conversations with Kelly Brown Douglas is a series of interviews that explore the racialized inequities intrinsic to our nation and our collective responsibility to create a more just future. We record them on Facebook Live and we also make some of them into podcasts! Click here to see our upcoming lineup. Previous interviews have included:
The Rev. Dr. Delman Coates, Senior Pastor at Mt. Ennon Baptist Church in Clinton, Maryland. Dr. (Video)
Rev. Dr. Starsky Wilson, President and CEO of the Children’s Defense Fund (Video) (Podcast)
Sheena Wright, President and CEO of the United Way of New York City (Video) (Podcast)
Stacey L. Holman, Black Butterfly Productions (Video) (Podcast)
The Rt. Rev. Paula Clark, Bishop-elect of the Diocese of Chicago (Video)
Congratulations to Carl Adair ’21, Mary Barber ’21, Ju-young Lee-Pae ’21, and Lu Zhang ’21 on your ordinations to the transitional diaconate! EDS at Union is honored to have been able to walk with you for a part of your journeys.
Mary Barber ’21 along with Nicole Hanley ’22 did a three week “night prayer” series online through Mariandale Retreat Center for Advent, and they are doing another three week series on contemplative practices for Lent. In January, Mary took her General Ordination Exams in preparation for her ordination in the Diocese of New York. She was ordained a deacon on March 13. Along with a priest friend and many contributors she put together The Way of the Cross for Pandemic Time which can be used by congregations in Lent. It will be done in two parts in Union Chapel in March.
Eva Bogino ’23 was featured in a student profile for the UTS website. “EDS at Union has social justice at its heart. Whether we are in the classroom or in co-curricular activities, we are invested in understanding justice and reform in a way that is not only a meaningful element of our work, but something central to God’s call to us.” Read the full profile here.
Maryann Philbrook ’22 worked with other students from the Spring 2020 class on Song of Songs to lead a Union Chapel in early March. I
In September of 2020 she was awarded the Francis in the City award for Invaluable Social Support by Miracle Messages for her volunteer work with people experiencing homelessness. She is excited to be completing her first unit of CPE this summer in Chicago with Urban CPE.
Linda Aristondo ‘23, is a Digital Stories Fellow. These competitive year-long fellowships were awarded to individuals in a variety of stages in their careers, academic or otherwise. In addition to contributing to the archival sources at Pandemic Religion, Digital Stories Fellows will use their findings on religion during the time of COVID to curate a diversity of media-rich spaces – to tell Digital Stories. Linda was also awarded a Spring 2021 grant from Episcopal Evangelism Society to capture the narratives of marginalized persons, and their response to the injustices experienced through COVID-19 and expressed through the Black Lives Matter movement.
In The News
Dean Douglas is featured in the PBS documentary “THE BLACK CHURCH: THIS IS OUR STORY, THIS IS OUR SONG” This moving four-hour, two-part series from executive producer, host and writer Henry Louis Gates, Jr. traces the 400-year-old story of the Black church in America. Watch the series online ON PBS.
Dean Douglas had a letter to the editor published in the New York Times in response to the oped by David Brooks’ titled Christian Social Justice. Dean Douglas argues that to heal the racial divides in this country we must strive not for reconciliation but justice. Reconciliation follows justice, not the other way around. Read the letter here.
The deans of eight Episcopal seminaries released the following statement on March 18, speaking out against recent racial incidents at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee. Read the statement.
In Authority Magazine, Dean Douglas shares five things each of us can do to unite our polarized society. This interview opens up with an in-depth profile on the life and work of Dead Douglas, from growing up in Ohio, to studying the work of James Cone in college, to her forthcoming book reflecting on her journey to understand her faith in the midst of pleas for Black Lives to Matter. Read the full profile here.
The Rev. Dr. Paul Carling ’02 is retiring after 7 wonderful and transformative years as Chaplain of the Episcopal Church at Yale at the end of the 2020-2021 academic year, and will enjoy a sabbatical of Spanish immersion in Middlebury, VT while discerning the next chapter. A national search for a new chaplain is in process (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The Rev. Fred Fenton ’61 recently published a book review of Say it Louder by Tiffany Cross. His article “Embracing a future for all” was published January 28, 2021 in the LWWeekly, a publication of the Leisure World retirement community in Seal Beach, California, where my wife and I live.
The Rev. Dr. Carol Flett ’88 in November 2020, along with a colleague who is an arbitrator, served as a workshop presenter in the annual Conference of the Oregon Mediation Association. The workshop’s title, “Facilitation of anti-racism dialogues as a form of mediation”, was well received because education on racism and biases was new information to most participants. Mediators are very effective small group facilitators. She also recently moved to Delaware.
Jacob Gonzalez ’20 was just accepted into Yale Law School and hopes to start in the Fall of 2021. He says that: “EDS at Union’s values, faculty, and formation programming have formed me morally and theologically.”
The Rev. Gina Gore ’15 currently serves as the Chaplain at the Cathedral school in New York City. Since March, she has also been the long-term supply priest at St. George’s in Newburgh, NY while they are looking for a rector. She recently published an article in the Episcopal New Yorker.
The Rt. Rev. Rayford B. High, Jr., ’66 after retiring as Bishop Suffragan of Texas and Provisional Bishop of Fort Worth, Bishop High accepted the call to be Assistant Bishop of West Texas for a three-year commitment. He will have three visitations a month and other responsibilities in the diocese. He and The Rev. Dr. Ann D. Normand, his wife, will live in San Antonio.
The Rev. Dr. Anne Ierardi ’85 is a painter and soon to be published author. Her latest portrait of Nina Simone can be seen with her monthly blog along with selections from her memoir “Coming Alive” www.AnneIerardi/reflections.com. Her nonprofit center, Heatlhsigns, sponsors ecumenical gatherings on Cape Cod.
The Rev. Dr. George Regas ’56, passed away on January 3 at the age of 90. He was the rector of All Saints Pasadena from 1960-1995. He is well known for fighting in the church for the ordination of women, the inclusion of the LGBTQ community in all aspects of church and social life, and interfaith work. Outside of the church walls he fought against war in all forms from Vietnam War, the Persian Gulf War and the Iraq War. He participated in many protests being arrested many times over the course of his life. He was also well beloved by his parishioners as a pastoral priest who comforted them through difficult times in their lives. He is survived by his wife, Mary Regas, of 44 years, and his children Susan, Tim and Tyler Regas as well as Mary’s children, Lowry and Burke Smith. His daughter, Michelle Regas Worrell died in 2002. For more information please see the obituary by the Diocese of Los Angeles.