Who is Tabatha, tell us a little about yourself?
I am 25, a very recent graduate of Union (finished in December 2019), and a fourth-generation preacher from the rural South (which means I’m really church-y). I enjoy cooking, coloring, and traveling.
What brought you to Union? What was your concentration? Can you share an experience, a trip or course that was transformative for you?
In my second year at Spelman, I met Nichelle Jenkins (head of admissions at the time) at a seminary fair. I found out that Union was the home of womanist theology, a home for black liberation theology with professors like Dr. James Cone and Cornel West. As a Women’s Studies major and Lead Chapel Assistant, Union sparked my interest as a place where I could marry my two passions: faith and justice. Two years later in my senior year of college, I met Nichelle again in Atlanta at a conference and the rest is history. My concentration was Preaching, Worship, and the Arts. I was deeply moved by being a student of Professor Cone in my first semester at Union in his Introduction to Systematic Theology course. Though it was only an introductory course, his commitment to my and other black students’ intellectual and spiritual development helped me understand how my lens as a queer black woman from the rural South was valuable to theology. In the following semester, Claudio Carvalhaes‘ class, Sacraments, Hospitality, and Globalization moved me to think about radical ways I and my peers could study and craft powerful liturgy. This was the class that helped me discern my call to Preaching and Worship as a concentration. Both of these classes were deeply transformative to my life and work.
What is Tabatha doing now?
I am currently the lead pastor of New Day Church that worships (typically) out of a high school cafeteria in the Northwest Bronx. I spend most of my time preparing sermons, working with leaders to craft liturgy and because I’m still new, getting to know members of a magnificent congregation.
Social distancing has called us all to rethink worship and church. Can you tell us some of the changes you’ve made and how you’ve been able to keep the church community during this time?
Yes, absolutely! I and an exceptional team have been working over the last three weeks to keep the same aspects of worship that make New Day the spectacular place that it is on Sundays (i.e. conversation circles, prayer circles, Spanish-speaking circles, a dynamic worship team). We have moved our services to Zoom and maintained the same schedule for worship, 11:00 am on Sunday mornings.
What is the best way to help a church like yours now?
We encourage folx to join us on Zoom at 11:00 am on Sunday mornings, the link can be found on our Facebook page. We also have ongoing virtual events weekly such as a Lenten Bible Study on Wednesday nights at 7:00 pm (that will resume as a Weekly Bible Study in the coming weeks). New Day is a place where all are welcome, especially those who intentionally grapple with the intersections of their identity and their faith/faith practices. We want to keep our momentum as a boundary-crossing church, even in these uncertain times.
Additionally, we encourage folx to give. We are a church founded on a principle of confronting injustice and in recent months, we’ve been thinking as a congregation about the history of mutual aid as form of political/direct action and the ways the sacred calls communities of faith to de-center traditional forms of Christian charity and become grounded in the ongoing necessities of our people. We encourage people to give so that this community can continue to thrive and live in it’s mission and purpose.