Home Morningside Events - Morningside Area Alliance Talks TIDEL Speaker Series: Is Artificial Intelligence (AI) Helpful or Harmful for Faith-Based Communities?




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Jun 26 2024


12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

Formats (virtual, in person, hybrid)


TIDEL Speaker Series: Is Artificial Intelligence (AI) Helpful or Harmful for Faith-Based Communities?

The TIDEL Speaker Series is a conversation-based approach to gathering experts in the field of technology and innovation to share best practices with faith-based leaders.


The rise of artificial intelligence has many faith-based communities wondering what it is and whether or not it should be embraced. Is this tech that can help or harm? Is it ethical? Join us for a conversation around its use and possibilities.


rev dr. justin lesterRev. Dr. Justin Lester has an extreme love for people, ministry, and coffee. Justin has his Master’s of Divinity from Vanderbilt University, Master’s of Arts from Marquette University, and Doctorate in Ministry from Boston University with a dissertation entitled, Let’s Play Church: Gamifying New England Black Church Revitalization. Beyond that, He is the Author of, Necessary Endings where he details his journey through mental health and well-being and, Brown Dad, Brown Boy, Brown Basketball. A Children’s book written to help dads and sons work through their morning routines.

Justin is ordained in the Baptist church in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He has worked as a youth pastor, assistant Pastor, and “other-duties-assigned”-staff in churches in Wisconsin, Tennessee, and Rhode Island. All of his engagement has led him to his current assignment as Pastor at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church in Vallejo, California. His time in ministry has proven fruitful with a track record of debt eradication, Church growth, multi-generational engagement, the establishment of discipleship ministries, engagement in the community, church renovation and more.

Outside of Pastoring, Justin currently serves on the Board of Trustees for the Black Religious Scholars Group. Justin has an extreme love for coffee, and all things Marquette Basketball, Milwaukee Bucks, and Green Bay Packers. Most Importantly, he is working to leave a legacy with the most beautiful woman in the world, His wife, Courtney Lester, and his “little man” Camden.

uts tidel program director dr. gabby cudjoe wilkesDr. Gabby Cudjoe Wilkes is a public theologian, innovation strategist, pastor and author. She is the Director of the Technology, Innovation & Digital Engagement Lab Fellowship housed at Union Theological Seminary. She studied under the doctoral advisement of Dr. L. Gregory Jones at Duke Divinity School where she completed her Doctorate in Ministry on innovation, social change and the church.

Dr. Gabby is a sought after voice in the public square. She was a featured contributor on The 2023 Oprah Winfrey Network’s documentary series: Time of Essence (HBO MAX), a contributor to The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History’s new film, gODTALK (2023) and was a featured contributor to Dr. Henry Lewis Gates’ documentary, GOSPEL (2024) on PBS. In 2022 she released her first book: Psalms for Black Lives, Reflections for the Work of Liberation. The book has sold more than 10,000 copies worldwide.

Dr. Gabby travels the nation training and equipping faith leaders to do the work of love & justice. At the height of both a global pandemic and a contentious presidential election season, Dr. Gabby was appointed to then NYC Mayor Bill DeBlasio’s COVID-19 Clergy Task Force . She also served as an Eastern Region Convener of the Black Church PAC where she trained hundreds of clergy across the eastern region of the nation on matters of faith & voter engagement strategies. In 2024 she was appointed to New York City Public School’s Chancellor David Banks’ Interfaith Advisory Council.

She is a graduate of Duke, Yale, NYU & Hampton University. She currently serves as Vice President of The Yale Divinity School Alumni Board.