Technology, Innovation, & Digital Engagement Lab

Announcing TIDEL’s Inaugural Program


TIDEL is a 5-year Lilly Endowment Pathways for Tomorrow-funded initiative that aims to expand the capacity for theological schools and faith-based organizations to maximize mission and confront critical challenges through creative and effective use of technology.


Our Fellowship Program

The TIDEL Leadership Fellows Program is the first initiative of the TIDEL program. It will bring together leaders from theological schools, congregations, and faith-based social justice organizations. TIDEL Leadership Fellows will include founders, ideators, and knowledge-seekers from diverse technology backgrounds and experience levels. Fellows will be in a unique position to bring their experiences working in communities into conversations and will provide avenues for deploying and getting feedback about technology-driven innovation supported for by TIDEL. The program is open to all prospective fellows; it is not limited to individuals affiliated with TIDEL's founding organizations.

The program is primarily online, and all in-person components will be paid for by the program. Applicants are not required to be located in the NYC area. Fellows must apply alongside another member of their group or organization.

Email information:
APPLICATION DEADLINE: October 27, 2023 at 11:59pm EST 

Potential Design Challenges

We are looking for applicants who are interested in these developing solutions to these challenges and beyond


Ministers, congregants, and theology students are increasingly practicing (and learning about) their faith in digital space (or mixed digital-physical spaces) without the traditional opportunities for peer-to-peer learning, group engagement, and support networks. Efforts are being made to leverage technologies to support–and even elevate–that work, but the effectiveness of current approaches is unclear and new tools, products, and services are constantly emerging and being pitched to members of our community.

Lifelong Learning

There is a growing understanding and belief that “education” should not be limited to one period of time but is a process that continues throughout the arc of human life. Change–demographic change, political change, technological change, economic change–is a fact of life and necessitates regular and continuous learning. Technology has the potential to expand access to as well as the impact of lifelong learning programs. But questions remain.

Curating Hybrid Worship Experiences

Digital ministry, online and hybrid events, and technology-enhanced in-person worship have tremendous potential to address challenges facing churches (and theology school Chapel programming), most notably membership and engagement. Live experience design is an emerging field of study and technologies designed to support digital and technology-enhanced worship experiences. There is a demand for hybrid experiences that thoughtfully, creatively, artistically, and inclusively produce religious and worship “experiences” that advance the work of churches and faith and justice organizations.

Creating Digital Communities

A growing number of fully online communities have formed since the onset of COVID-19 that are intentionally digital. Questions remain about how to best curate healthy spaces of digital communal engagement and formation--and what role technology can and should be play.

Frequently Asked Questions

Learn More About the TIDEL Fellowship

Through the TIDEL Fellowship program we will bring together a cohort of strong leaders ready to innovate together to solve their organization’s current challenges to promote the thriving of faith communities.

Apply Now


Director of the TIDEL Fellowship

Dr. Gabby Cudjoe Wilkes is the Director of The Technology Innovation & Digital Engagement Lab (TIDEL) Fellowship, housed at Union Theological Seminary. Dr. Gabby is a pastor, leader, innovation strategist and author. Her work has been featured in Forbes, Essence & The New York Times. She holds a doctorate from Duke University, a Masters of Divinity from Yale University, a Masters of Arts from NYU and a Bachelors of Arts from Hampton University. She is the Vice President of the Yale Divinity School Alumni Board and a member of the Morehouse College MLK Board of Preachers. Dr. Gabby is a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated and is committed to the work of love and justice. She is the author of the best-selling text, Psalms for Black Lives.

A man wearing a gray suit and white shirt.VP for Online Education and Learning Innovation at Union Theological Seminary

David Gastwirth is Union Theological Seminary’s Vice President of Online Education and Learning Innovation. He is responsible for crafting the vision for online learning, and leading and facilitating the creation, design and delivery of new online and hybrid educational programs. He also provides leadership and ongoing support in the use of learning technology. Gastwirth holds an M.P.A. from the University of Southern California, an Ed.M. in Higher Education from Harvard University, and a B.A. from Duke University.

TIDEL Design Challenge Lead & Founder/Director of the RISE Together Women of Color in Ministry Network

Reverend Dr. Lisa D. Rhodes is the founder and executive director of RISE Together, a multicultural  women centered mentorship network that creates safe, sacred, and courageous spaces for seminary students, mid-career and seasoned pastors, community activists and scholars to engage in community support and leadership development.  Dr. Rhodes’ research highlights that there is a strong and steady call for female mentorship as well as the creation of local and national networks of support that connect sister sojourners of color for the purpose of enhancing well-being and thriving in ministry.  Dr. Rhodes came to Union Theological Seminary after 16 years as Dean of the Chapel at Spelman College and founding director of the Sisters Center for WISDOM (Women in Spiritual Discernment of Ministry). Prior to Spelman and RISE, Dr. Rhodes served as the Assistant Pastor at the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, GA. 

She received her BA in psychology from Wheeling College in Wheeling, West Virginia, a Masters of Social Work from the University of Maryland in Baltimore, Maryland, M.Div. from the Candler School of Theology at Emory University, and D.Min. from Union Presbyterian Seminary in Richmond, Virginia. She has completed all coursework toward the ThD at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia.

TIDEL Design Challenge Lead & Director of Ministry Education with the Kairos Center for Religion, Rights & Social Justice.

Rev. Dr. Jessica C. Williams serves as Director of Ministry Education with the Kairos Center for Religions, Rights, and Social Justice at Union Theological Seminary, working primarily with Freedom Church of the Poor and programs of theological education.  Previously, she pastored churches in New York, Iowa, and Kansas and served as staff and adjunct faculty at Central Seminary in Shawnee, Kansas.  Dr. Williams earned a Bachelor of Arts from Alderson-Broaddus College (Philippi, WV), Master of Divinity from Union Theological Seminary (New York, NY), Master of Science in Social Work from Columbia University (New York, NY), and Ph.D. in Adult Learning and Leadership from Kansas State University.

A smiling black man in a suit and tie.TIDEL Design Challenge Lead

Riley Jones, IV is a social entrepreneur in the field of education. He is currently studying for the Doctor of Education Leadership degree at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He was a Co-Founder of Sector Software, an organization using technology to create and facilitate opportunity pathways for the new economy. This work garnered him recognition as a Forbes 30 Under 30 Social Entrepreneur. He spent time as a lawyer in the Education Practice at Duane Morris LLP. In 2021, he was appointed as Professor of Practice and Robin Richards Donohoe Social Entrepreneur in Residence at the University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill. He received a B.A. from Columbia University in Political Science, a Masters of Science in Education Entrepreneurship from the University of Pennsylvania and a J.D. from New York University School of Law.


Kairos center for religion rights and social justice.

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