EDS at Union Newsletter | October 2021

EDS at Union Newsletter | October 2021

Categories: EDS at Union, EDS Newsletter


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Dear Friends,

As we all begin to open up to the world that “awaits” us after 18 months of quarantine, EDS at Union re-opened its doors to an in-person community of learners. We welcomed to campus for the first time not only our entering class of 2021, but our second-year students who spent their first year of study in virtual community.

As the students gathered the day after a night of historic rainfall, floods and tornados here in the New York City area, they were filled with energy, excitement and an eagerness to get to work. Far from being dispirited by the unsettling night and year, they are inspired by the fresh opportunities for meeting the challenges of fostering a “new normal,” one defined by the just future that God calls us to. And I have been inspired by them and their passion to do transformative, life-enhancing ministries.

I look forward to learning from and with the new and returning members of the EDS at Union. As we share their journeys with you in this and other newsletters, I hope you too will be inspired by their ministerial stories and the work they are engaged in here at EDS at Union.

This year remains an uncharted road, for our students, for our staff and for the wider EDS at Union community. Yet, we know that whatever the road may bring, the way toward a more just future “depends upon each other’s toil.” And so, I invite you to pray with me for this seminary year and to show your support for EDS at Union in any way that you are able – a gift, a good word, a key connection within the world of church leaders committed to working towards justice.

Together we have the opportunity to form a new generation of committed critical thinkers who will bring their faith to the public square and help to transform the communities they serve. Drawing on the legacy of faith of our spiritual ancestors, together we will be able to respond in new ways to the needs of a world in constant flux.

As always, I pray for your good health and well-being and remain ever grateful for the EDS legacy that you so faithfully carry forward.

God’s Peace,

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.

Each semester, Episcopal Divinity School at Union selects a theme and a book as a guiding focus for a semester-long discussion on justice issues critical for faith communities. This Fall 2021, EDS at Union has selected The 1619 Project, an ongoing project from The New York Times Magazine that “aims to reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of our national narrative.”

On the evening of October 7, Dr. Khalil Gibran Muhammad, the author of The 1619 Project’s essay on America’s barbaric history of sugar production joined us on campus for a lecture and conversation about the project.

Join us in reading The 1619 Project at the New York Times Magazine here or for free through the Pulitzer Prize Center here.

EDS at Union’s Facebook Live series Just Conversations with Kelly Brown Douglas explores the racialized inequities intrinsic to our nation and our collective responsibility to create a more just future. Just Conversations during the fall semester will dive deeper into the essays and themes discussed in our fall community read, The 1619 Project from the New York Times.

Guests this semester include:

  • Join us on Tuesday, October 26 at 2:30 pm EST as Dean Douglas speaks with Dr. Brittney Cooper, Associate Professor at Rutgers University and co-editor of The Crunk Feminist Collection (The Feminist Press 2017). They will discuss the importance of telling an accurate and truthful account of American history, focusing on identity and gender politics, specifically around issues facing Black women. RSVP today!
  • Dr. Richard Rothstein, Distinguished Fellow of the Economic Policy Institute: A discussion of 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. Watch the recording here.
  • Lonnie G. Bunch III, Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution: A discussion of Dr. Bunch’s 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. Watch the recording here.  
  • Justin J. Pearson, co-founder of Memphis Community Against the Pipeline: A discussion of Mr. Pearson’s work around housing segregation laws and how they have contributed to environmental racism and disproportionate health outcomes for people of color in Memphis, TN. Watch the recording here.
  • Bishop Yvette A. Flunder, founder of the City of Refuge United Church of Christ: A discussion of the growing public debate around Critical Race Theory and the church’s role in creating a more welcoming society for all people. Watch the recording here.

More conversations from Summer 2021:

  • Dr. Sherry Molock, Senior Research Fellow at The Steve Fund on how this organization works with colleges and universities, non-profits, researchers, mental health experts, families, and young people to promote programs and strategies that build understanding and assistance for the mental and emotional health of the nation’s young people of color. Watch the recording here
  • Dr. Tia Dole, Chief Clinical Operations Officer of the Trevor Project. They will discuss how to best provide crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning (LGBTQ) young people under 25. Watch the recording here
  • Dr. Tom Frieden, president, and CEO of Resolve to Save Lives. They will discuss Frieden’s former role as Director of the CDC under President Obama’s administration, and his work as an infectious disease and public health physician. Watch the recording here.  

Congratulations to 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.

EDS at Union welcomed two new associate program directors to the staff this summer, the Rev. Anna Olson and Emilee Walker-Cornetta. Read their bio here.

Welcome, Anna and Emilee!

Anglican Social Justice Pilot Project

EDS at Union is piloting a new, non-degree theological education program entitled “Anglicanism and Social Justice” (ASJ). Over the course of four semesters, the program examines issues of racial justice, gender and sexuality, poverty, and environmental justice from a theological perspective, asking how the church is being called to respond. Throughout, attention is given to the histories of Christian biblical interpretation and the Anglican/Episcopal tradition as sites for sanctioning and/or resisting oppression.

In its pilot year, the program has over 60 participants from across the country, including clergy, laity, and those in discernment and formation for ministry. Over the fall semester, the group will gather virtually for five day-long events—including two Union SU courses—comprised of lectures from faculty, guest interviews, and small group discussions. Between sessions, participants engage with one another and the assigned readings via online discussion forums.

Those interested in applying to be part of next year’s cohort may reach out to EDS associate program director Emilee Walker-Cornetta at ewalkercornetta@uts.columbia.edu. 

Register for Two Exciting Online Courses

Register here for The Cross and Lynching Tree – October 29-30 – Taught by Dean Kelly Brown Douglas

Students will explore this provocative and awarding winning book by Dr. James Cone on the relationship between the cross and the lynching tree. This book looks at how “the cross and lynching tree interpret each other,” throughout the black struggle for freedom—even today. This class will incorporate short lectures, panel discussions, and one-on-one interviews with scholars across the field of Black Theology and African American history.

Register here for The Battle for the Bible: What Jesus Really Said About the Poor – November 12-13 – Taught by the Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis

This course explores the ways the Bible is often interpreted to justify inaction in the face of poverty, state that poverty is eternal, and claim that if God wanted to end poverty, God would do so. Rarely in our public discussion or our congregations is there reference to the truly radical economic teachings of the Bible and the call for abundant life for absolutely all. Students explore what the Bible really says about the poor, prosperity, and justice and what we are called to do in this moment in history about it. Attention will be paid to passages like “the poor will be with you always”, “if you do not work, you shall not eat”, “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s” and other biblical roadblocks for a more just society.

“How do we really know that God cares when Black people are still getting killed

How long do we have to wait for the justice of God?

I get it, that Christ is Black, but that doesn’t seem to be helping us right now.”  

These questions from her son prompted Dean Kelly Brown Douglas to undertake this soul-searching reflection. The killing of George Floyd and the ongoing litany of Black victims raised questions about the persistence of white supremacy in this nation, leading her to reflect on how a “white way of knowing” has come to dominate American identity and even to shape the consciousness of Christians.

In exploring the message of Confederate monuments and the “Make America Great Again” slogan, she examines the failures of even “good white Christians” and struggles with the hope that “Black Lives Matter,” before reaching deep into her own experience and the faith of Black folks to find her way back to Resurrection Hope.

Available November 2021.

More info here: https://www.orbisbooks.com/resurrection-hope.html


EDS at Union held a reception on September 2nd at partner parish St. Mary’s Episcopal in West Harlem to celebrate the beginning of the 2021-2022 academic year. It was the first time many of the students and staff had been able to meet in-person!   The EDS at Union community gathered on September 8th for a special service to welcome the incoming class of students. As part of this service, the incoming class and second-year students added their names to the book which contains the names of EDS students going back to 1975.
In recognition of Jonathan Daniels’ feast day, EDS at Union was proud to join The Episcopal Church in Alabama and Episcopal Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast in sponsoring the 2021 annual celebration of the life, work, and witness of ETS seminarian Jonathan Myrick Daniels. This year’s celebration took place on August 14 and featured keynote speaker the Rev. Kim Jackson, Senator for Georgia State Senate.

In anticipation of the pilgrimage, EDS at Union held a panel conversation with organizers of the event including Joe McDaniels, The Rev. Deacon Carolyn Foster, and Sarah Lawton. Watch the recording of that conversation here.

In honor of Pauli Murray’s feast day, EDS at Union shared a recording of Bishop John Rabb, chair of the board of EDS at Union, discussing the impact Pauli Murray made on his life.

Bishop Rabb knew Pauli Murray and was ordained with her in 1977 at the Washington National Cathedral. Bishop Rabb and Dean Douglas discuss the climate of the Episcopal Church in the late 1970s as women were first being ordained, Rabb’s experience on that day, and Murray’s dedication to reconciliation for all people. Watch a recording of that conversation here.


Revista de Teología Anglicana Latina 

EDS at Union is launching the Revista de Teología Anglicana Latina, an online academic journal offering peer-reviewed academic articles on the encounter between Anglican theology and Latin American theological traditions in the U.S. and Latin America. The first issue is scheduled for November of this year. Dean Kelly Brown Douglas appointed the Revs. Luis Barrios, PhD, Juan M.C. Oliver, and Loida Sardinas PhD as the editorial team of the new journal. “This is a wonderful and generous offer from EDS at Union, and a beautiful example of how The Episcopal Church can support the work of diverse theologians working in academia,” Oliver said. Read more.

Dean Douglas in the News

  • USA Today article – Faith Leaders Encouraging Vaccines – Dean Kelly Brown Douglas was featured in USA TODAY, “Faith leaders are encouraging vaccinations, framing the decision as a religious obligation: It’s working” Christian teachings about protecting the vulnerable should also encourage people to get vaccinated, said Kelly Brown Douglas. She called vaccinations a moral obligation, drawing on God’s commandment to “love thy neighbor.”
  • In The Religion News Service, Dean Douglas makes the Case for Reparations – Confronting the wealth gap means confronting the unequal access to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” that our country promises. Dean Kelly Brown Douglas makes the case for #reparations today in the Religion News Service.
  • Dean Douglas was interviewed in The Hill about the combative and confrontational forums that school board meetings have become as students prepare to head back to school in the fall. She stated, “We have to recognize that we are shaping not just our country and who we are as a people, who we are for the present, we’re shaping who we are for the future and we’re shaping a generation,” Douglas said.
  • Dean Kelly Brown Douglas spoke with Daren Jaime of The Bronx Social Justice and Anti-Violence Forum on critical race theory, how we teach our nation’s history, eviction moratorium, and her upcoming book, “Resurrection Hope: A Future Where Black Lives Matter”.

Student News

  • Linda Aristondo ’23 participated in the Hispanic Summer Program directed by Union professor Dr. Daisy Machado. The paper she wrote for her “Latina & Mujerista Biblical Hermeneutics as Colonial Projects” seminar, titled “Latina Immigrants En La Lucha as Persistent Widows in Luke 18: 1-8”, will be published this winter.
  • Eva Bogino ’23 completed her first unit of Clinical Pastoral Education in August at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, an experience which strengthened her sense of call to chaplaincy. She is grateful to have received The Church Training and Deaconess House Scholarship from The Diocese of Pennsylvania for the 2021-2022 academic year.

Alumni/ae News

  • The Rev. Dr. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas ’88 contributed an article, “Climate Change, Addiction, and Spiritual Liberation,” to the journal Religions, as part of a special issue on “Spirituality and Addiction.”  Drawing on her long-term recovery from addiction and on decades of ministry as a climate activist, she reflected on how the dynamics of addiction and recovery might inform efforts to address climate crisis.  She was interviewed by “Spirit Matters” on faith, climate action, and hope. As part of UCC General Synod, she participated in a discussion of her co-edited book, Rooted and Rising: Voices of Courage in a Time of Climate Crisis. 
  • The Very Rev. Thomas Chesterman ’56, moved to a senior residence called Brookdale Paulin Creek in Santa Rosa, CA, thus beginning a new chapter of life. He recently celebrated his 90th birthday at a magnificent outdoor party attended by family, friends, and many members of True Sunshine Church.
  • Jacob Andrew Gonzales ’20 has been chosen as an NAACP Legal Defense Fund Earl Warren Scholar. The scholarship, given to approximately three law school students per year from a pool of hundreds of applicants, “identifies and invests in brilliant minds who are dedicated to pursuing structural changes to expand democracy and achieve racial justice.” The scholarship comes with specialized training in civil rights litigation, as well as a $45,000 tuition grant.
  • Dr. Robert (Bob) T. Hall ’63, published “La Ética de Cuidado Paliativo” in June, available as a free download from the Comisión Nacional de Bioética (México). He will give a talk at the Comisión about former EDS professor Joseph Fletcher for International Bioethics Day.
  • Dr. Brigitte Löwe ’03 has encountered various health struggles and recently received treatment on her right foot. She has difficulty walking and has been accepted to a rehabilitation clinic for the upcoming month. She shares this news to encourage our community to acknowledge common struggles in addition to professional accomplishments.
  • Ralph Moore, UTS ’61, EDS ’95 retired from full-time ministry as rector of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Rockland, ME. For four years, he has served on the board of directors of OUT Maine, the state’s only service agency for support of LGBTQ+ children, youth, and families that concentrates on rural areas. OUT Maine offers training workshops for professionals, including clergy, that are now offered via Zoom. His role on the board includes collaborating with interfaith networks and faith communities to work for justice for these individuals and families.
  • A book by Charlene Marie Laure Vincent ’08, Return from Exile: Revelations from an Anchoress in St. Augustine has been published by Wipf and Stock Publishers.
  • The Reverend Meredith Ward ’20 has joined St. Bartholomew’s Church in New York as Interim Associate Rector. There, her work focuses on worship, pastoral care, and adult education.
  • Skye Winspur ’14, worked this summer for the Madison (Wisconsin) Mallards, a minor league baseball team.  Skye has begun work on a novel about four American men of diverse backgrounds between the ages of 16 and 45, set in the year 2028.

In Memoriam

  • The requiem for The Rev. Dr. David Siegenthaler ’55 will be held on Oct 31 at 3:00 p.m. at Emmanuel Church in Boston.
  • The memorial service for The Rev. Dr. John Townsend and his wife Mary, whose death shortly followed his, was held on Sat., Sept. 18 at Grace Church in Newton, MA. The Rev. Dr. Townsend was professor of New Testament and Biblical Languages at the Philadelphia Divinity School from 1960 to 1974, and at Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge from 1974 to 1994. Upon his retirement from EDS, he taught Hebrew at Harvard Divinity School and was well known for his work in Christian/Jewish relations.