Lunch and Learn with Dr. Willie Jennings
Sunday, February 5th | 1pm | 9T
The Education Commission invites you to a Lunch and Learn in room 9T with special guest Dr. Willie Jennings in conversation on his book, “After Whiteness: An Education In Belonging,” moderated by Dr. Andrea White. After Whiteness explores several themes that we have been in conversation about here at Riverside. Jennings says, “Theological education has always been about formation: first of people, then of communities, then of the world. If we continue to promote whiteness and its related ideas of masculinity and individualism in our educational work, it will remain diseased and thwart our efforts to heal the church and the world. But if theological education aims to form people who can gather others together through border-crossing pluralism and God-drenched communion, we can begin to cultivate the radical belonging that is at the heart of God’s transformative work.” In this inaugural volume of the Theological Education between the Times series, Willie James Jennings shares the insights gained from his extensive experience in theological education, most notably as the dean of a major university’s divinity school—where he remains one of the only African Americans to have ever served in that role. He reflects on the distortions hidden in plain sight within the world of education but holds onto abundant hope for what theological education can be and how it can position itself at the front of a massive cultural shift away from white, Western cultural hegemony. This must happen through the formation of what Jennings calls erotic souls within ourselves—erotic in the sense that denotes the power and energy of authentic connection with God and our fellow human beings. After Whiteness is for anyone who has ever questioned why theological education still matters. It is a call for Christian intellectuals to exchange isolation for intimacy and embrace their place in the crowd—just like the crowd that followed Jesus and experienced his miracles. It is part memoir, part decolonial analysis, and part poetry—a multimodal discourse that deliberately transgresses boundaries, as Jennings hopes theological education will do, too. Books can be purchased in the Riverside Welcome Center. Lunch is free and open to all. Please register in advance. Please reach out to Pat Hayes at 212-870-6810 or email@example.com with any questions.
Dr. Willie Jennings in conversation with Dr. Andrea White on After Whiteness
Dr. Willie Jennings
Willie Jennings’ book The Christian Imagination: Theology and the Origins of Race(link is external) (Yale 2010) won the American Academy of Religion Award of Excellence in the Study of Religion in the Constructive-Reflective category the year after it appeared and, in 2015, the Grawemeyer Award in Religion, the largest prize for a theological work in North America. Englewood Review of Books called the work a “theological masterpiece.” His commentary on the Book of Acts, titled Acts: A Commentary, The Revolution of the Intimate (for the Belief Series, Westminster/John Knox) received the Reference Book of the Year Award from The Academy of Parish Clergy in 2018.
Dr. Jennings has also recently published a book that examines the problems of theological education within western education, entitled After Whiteness: An Education in Belonging(link is external) (Eerdmans, 2020).
Jennings is now working on a major monograph provisionally entitled Unfolding the World: Recasting a Christian Doctrine of Creation as well as a finishing a book of poetry entitled The Time of Possession.
Writing in the areas of liberation theologies, cultural identities, and anthropology, Jennings has authored more than 40 scholarly essays and nearly two-dozen reviews, as well as essays on academic administration and blog posts for Religion Dispatches.
Jennings is an ordained Baptist minister and has served as interim pastor for several North Carolina churches. He is in high demand as a speaker and is widely recognized as a major figure in theological education across North America.
A Calvin College graduate, Jennings received his M.Div. from Fuller Theological Seminary and his Ph.D. in religion and ethics from Duke.
Rev. Dr. Andrea C. White
The Rev. Dr. Andrea C. White is Associate Professor of Theology and Culture at Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York. She has served as Executive Director of the Society for the Study of Black Religion and chair of the Black Theology Unit for the American Academy of Religion. Her research specializes in womanist theology and critical theory, philosophy of religion and phenomenology.
Her forthcoming volume is The Scandal of Flesh: Black Women’s Bodies, God, and Politics. She is also the author of The Back of God: A Theology of Otherness in Karl Barth and Paul Ricoeur, and editor of several future volumes including, Political Theology on Edge with Catherine Keller and Clayton Crocket, and The State of Black Theology.
She serves on the editorial boards for the Journal of the American Academy of Religion, the Wabash Center Journal on Teaching, the Black Theology Papers Project, and she is editor of the web forum Love, Struggle Resist, a critical, social and political forum for the progressive multireligious community.
Dr. White is a recipient of both the Lilly Theological Research Faculty Fellowship from The Association of Theological Schools and The Louisville Institute Book Grant for Minority Scholars.
She has delivered lectures in Brazil, Denmark, India, Scotland, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, and across the United States. She sits on the advisory boards for the Karl Barth Society of North America and Logia at the Logos Institute for Analytic and Exegetical Theology at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland. She has served as a member of the Committee on the Status of Racial and Ethnic Minorities in the Profession and with the Theology and Religious Reflection steering committee for the American Academy of Religion. She also serves on the Committee on Teaching about the United Nations and is a founding member of The Carter Center’s Scholars in Action created to address gender violence against women and girls.
Dr. White is a recipient of Emory University’s 2016 Martin Luther King Jr. Community Service Award.
Prior to her appointment at Union, she served on the faculty at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology and Department of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. She holds a Ph.D. in theology from The University of Chicago Divinity School, a Master of Divinity from Yale Divinity School with a concentration in philosophy of religion, and a Bachelor of Arts from Oberlin College with honors in philosophy. She is also an ordained American Baptist minister and served as a church pastor, hospice chaplain, and chaplain for children and adults with developmental disabilities.