//Union Theological Seminary Media

The Easter Call: Death Is Not The Final Verdict

 By The Very Rev. Kelly Brown Douglas  Easter morning makes clear that God will not tolerate crucifying realities that deny the sacred dignity and life of any human being. Laquan McDonald, by three years old, was a ward of the state. Passed around through various foster and relative’s homes, he was emotionally and physically abused. On October 20, 2014, he was murdered by a Chicago police officer. Jakelin Amei Rosmery Caal Maquín was Q’eqchi’-Maya, from Raxruhá, Guatemala. Driven from their land and caught in the “crosshairs” of drug wars Q’eqchi’ people are among the “poorest of the poor” in Guatemala. On December 8, 2018, Jakelin died in the custody of the US Border Patrol as a refugee seeking asylum with her father. Ashanti Carmon at 16 was “rejected by her family” because she was a transgender woman. Homeless, she slept on friend’s couches and in budget motels. She picked up jobs wherever she could, relying [...]

The Easter Call: Death Is Not The Final Verdict2019-04-20T12:01:00-04:00

Observing the Feast of Dr. King on the 51st Anniversary of his Death

The Very Rev. Kellly Brown Douglas is visiting Virginia Theological Seminary to observe the Feast of Dr. King on the 51st anniversary of his death. As the guest preacher, below is the sermon she will deliver on Thursday, April 4th at the Seminary’s community Eucharist. By The Very Rev. Kelly Brown Douglas Good Evening Virginia Theological Seminary community! Over 50 years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote in response to President Kennedy’s assassination that “Our nation should do a great deal of soul-searching . . .” For, he went on to say, “While the question ‘Who killed President Kennedy?’ is important, the question ‘What killed him?’ is more important.” On this evening that is 51 years to the day of King’s assassination, these words are prescient. For while we know who killed him, it is clear that we as a nation have never asked let alone confronted what killed King. To do so makes clear [...]

Observing the Feast of Dr. King on the 51st Anniversary of his Death2019-04-04T12:20:00-04:00

The Rev. Dr. Clive F. Jacks, Th.D. ‘7

What do you do? The Rev. Dr. Clive F. Jacks, center, at a recent alumni gathering. I have lived and ministered up and down the East Coast and retired in 1996, moving back home to enjoy my retirement in the metro Atlanta area. I now live outside the Perimeter but happily close enough to visit Decatur, including Decatur Presbyterian, where I grew up and where I was ordained after being examined by Atlanta Presbytery there as well! My ministry was mostly teaching in various colleges and seminaries and universities, although for a while I did some “stated supply” in three churches in Mecklenburg, now Charlotte, Presbytery. I also did a five-year full-time ministry in a small town church before returning to teaching in the hills of eastern Kentucky. I am happy to be “back home” and enjoying retirement, engaging in massive amounts of little indulgences, which does include continuing my “Bible study” and even attending SBL [...]

The Rev. Dr. Clive F. Jacks, Th.D. ‘72019-03-25T16:53:59-04:00

Speaking Clearly About the Cost LGBTQ People Bear

By Miguel Escobar, Director of Anglican Studies Miguel Escobar recently participated in Union’s #QueerFaith photo series featured on the Union website. Several months ago, I received an email asking me to serve on the Taskforce on Communion Across Difference. Truthfully, my initial reaction was to say “absolutely not.” Growing up as an effeminate Latino gay kid in a small, mostly white town in rural Texas, the wounds are still fresh even as I approach my 38th year. I have only recently begun speaking about the fear of physical violence, the incessant teasing of my voice since the age of six, the nights that my family received prank call after prank call from fellow classmates screaming “faggot” into my mother’s ear, and how, after one particularly bad night, this resulted in my first of three suicide attempts. Therefore, the idea of seeking communion across difference with Episcopal church theologians, editors, and clergy who are actively promulgating the idea [...]

Speaking Clearly About the Cost LGBTQ People Bear2019-03-22T16:25:49-04:00

Queer Faith

After the United Methodist Church voted to entrench its rejection of LGBTQ people, the pain in our community was palpable. We knew we had to respond. We could talk about how homophobic theology is damaging. We could condemn bigotry masquerading as God-talk. But that’s not the story we see every day at Union. We see a vibrant queer, community of faith—alive and flourishing. We see radical love that transcends every sinful boundary humans create. And we thought we’d tell that story instead, in their own voices. If you’re growing up in a Church that isn’t affirming; if you’ve ever been told that who you love or how you identify is sinful; if you were taught that God rejects you; if you struggle to fully love yourself—in all of your God-given beauty: This project is dedicated to you. And we invite you to join us! If you feel called, post a photo and reflection on social media, [...]

Queer Faith2019-03-12T09:21:00-04:00

Episcopal Bishops’ Resolution and Statement of Principles on Gun Violence

Whereas 96 Americans on average are killed a day Whereas on a monthly average 50 women in America are killed by an intimate partner Whereas Black Americans who are less than 14% of the population account for more than half of all gun deaths Whereas gun-related deaths are the third leading cause of death for American children with over 2,700 children and teens (ages 0-19) being shot and killed and nearly 14,500 being shot and injured every year – that’s an average of 47 American children and teens shot every day Whereas more than 2 million American children live in homes with unsecured guns Whereas black children and teens are 14 times more likely than white children and teens to die by gun homicide Whereas the Episcopal Divinity School at Union is committed to building a just earth where all persons —especially our children—regardless of race, creed, color, gender or sexual expression can live and thrive into [...]

Episcopal Bishops’ Resolution and Statement of Principles on Gun Violence2019-03-07T15:17:00-04:00

Dr. Jerusha Tanner Rhodes Appointed Associate Professor of Islam & Interreligious Engagement

Union Theological Seminary is pleased to announce that Jerusha Tanner Rhodes, Ph.D. has been promoted to Associate Professor of Islam and Interreligious Engagement without term (with tenure), by the Union Board of Trustees following the enthusiastic recommendation by the faculty’s Committee on Appointments. “Having worked closely with Professor Rhodes in the rigorous review for promotion and tenure, I am delighted that our Board recognizes her scholarly achievements, dedication to teaching, and service within and beyond the Union community,” said Dr. Mary Boys, Union’s Vice President of Academic Affairs. “An outstanding colleague, Professor Rhodes is the first Muslim to be granted tenure at UTS, so the Board’s vote marks an historic moment in Union’s story.” Dr. Rhodes’ first book, Never Wholly Other: A Muslima Theology of Religious Pluralism, explores the Qur’anic discourse on religious ‘otherness’. In this book, she draws upon feminist theology and semantic methodology to re-interpret the Qur’anic discourse and challenge notions of clear and static [...]

Dr. Jerusha Tanner Rhodes Appointed Associate Professor of Islam & Interreligious Engagement2019-03-01T11:55:00-04:00

Nourishing Interreligious Engagement: An Interview with Abraham Arthur ’18

This Union profile features Abraham Arthur, a 2018 graduate of the Master of Arts program, who spent much of his time at Union exploring the field of Interreligious Engagement. His experience in courses on Buddhism helped expand his religious horizons while deepening his understanding of his Christian background and indigenous traditions. After graduating in the Spring of 2018, Abraham began working at Bluestone Farm and Living Arts Center in Brewster, New York as a farm companion and independent consultant. Tell us a little about yourself and your life before Union. I immigrated from Ghana to the United States in 2009 to attend college at the University of Pennsylvania, where I studied Chemical Engineering. I came from Ghana with a particular mindset that, at the time, I wasn’t aware was oversimplified. I basically wanted to do well in school, get a good job, make money and live a comfortable life. After graduating from Penn the process of looking [...]

Nourishing Interreligious Engagement: An Interview with Abraham Arthur ’182019-02-26T11:34:22-04:00

Field Ed Profile: Danielle Williams-Thiam at CONNECT Faith

Field education at Union provides an opportunity for students to bring together their education, skill, and religious commitment in a way that can help them discover their call. Students do their field work in a wide variety of locations, from churches to shelters to non-profit organizations. This week, we spoke with Danielle Williams-Thiam, a second-year M.Div. student, who is doing her field placement at CONNECT Faith. Danielle Williams-Thiam ’20 What is your field site and what do you do there? My field site is CONNECT NYC in Harlem, just off 127th Street and Lenox Avenue. CONNECT is a training, education, and advocacy nonprofit dedicated to preventing interpersonal violence and promoting gender justice. Our mission is to create safe families and communities by transforming beliefs, behaviors, and institutions that perpetuate violence. We equip community leaders, service providers, healthcare professionals, educators, faith leaders, and youth to understand intimate partner violence (IPV), prevent it, and develop culturally relevant responses [...]

Field Ed Profile: Danielle Williams-Thiam at CONNECT Faith2019-02-26T11:34:27-04:00

Now Accepting Applications for The Collaborative for Faith Leadership

Since 2014, the VISION program has engaged early/mid-career faith leaders in a two-year collaborative program designed to support new ministries and build clergy relationships across denominations and religious traditions.​ In the Fall of 2019 Union will launch The Collaborative for Faith Leadership… Deadline: July 1 Click to apply The cohort meets monthly during the academic term to collaborate and dialogue with civic leaders, academics and scholars, and other innovators from the non-profit and for-profit sectors. Each summer the group meets at a retreat to continue the conversation and work together. VISION fellows undertake a culminating congregational project supported by a grant from VISION and close collaboration with other fellows and mentors. The Collaborative provides the space for you to think out loud and to find new partners to dream with. We anticipate the opportunity to exchange ideas with colleagues and mentors. We look forward to supporting new opportunities for ministry – and to imagining new visions of faithful leadership for the future. [...]

Now Accepting Applications for The Collaborative for Faith Leadership2019-02-23T11:06:05-04:00

Latinx Theology in Xenophobic Times: An Interview with Professor Machado

Amid a government shutdown and public fight over US immigration policy, we sat down with Rev. Dr. Daisy Machado, Professor of Church History at Union. In addition to the Borderlands class described in depth below, Dr. Machado’s recent courses include Eugenics, Race, Gender, and Nation: A Brief History and Religious Movements from the Margins: A Look at the Prosperity Gospel. In addition to teaching at Union, you’re also the Director of the Hispanic Summer Program. Tell us about it. The Hispanic Summer Program started in 1989, it was created to provide a space where Latinx seminary students in ATS schools could go for two weeks of intensive theological education with Latinx faculty. The program has continued, non-stop, for the last 30 years. It’s sponsored by 37 schools—Union has been a sponsor for 19 years. Because of the sponsoring fees that the schools pay, the students pay $425 total. It’s amazing, they get two weeks of housing, [...]

Latinx Theology in Xenophobic Times: An Interview with Professor Machado2019-01-09T04:00:33-04:00

What Borders Must We Cross in 2019?

“The phenomenon of refugees is not an El Paso problem, it’s a U.S. problem,” said Ruben Garcia, the founder and director of Annunciation House. And he should know. At Annunciation House, they provide the “hospitality” of food, bed, a shower, and other necessities for at least 2000 migrants a week, before helping to reunite them with family. It is one of the first stops for immigrants who are released by ICE when they cross the border into El Paso from Mexico. So, it was the first stop for me, and 30 other Episcopalians from across the nation, on a pilgrimage in December to learn, listen and know the full truth about the border realities in this country. I witnessed a busload of immigrants arrive at Annunciation House that day—not rapists, not drug dealers, not criminals, but mothers and fathers with their sons and daughters. In them, I saw the refugee parents of Jesus who crossed borders to [...]

What Borders Must We Cross in 2019?2019-01-08T03:51:31-04:00

Love Knows No Borders

From left: Rev. Benjamin Perry ’15, Rev. Emily Brewer ’15, Elisa Rosoff, Jessica Miller, Gabrielle Sclafani From December 6 – 11, a Union delegation traveled to the San Diego/Tijuana border, to work with asylum seekers in Mexico and participate in a protest at the border. Below, they describe their experience, what it taught them about the US immigration system, and what ministry can look like amidst such unjust suffering. Gabrielle Sclafani (3rd Year M.Div.): I traveled to Tijuana with trepidation, considerate of concerns about people without knowledge of the local context arriving to contribute to a “cause.” Yet when I got there I was less disturbed by those of us who showed up, whatever our ineptitudes and imperfect Spanish, and more disturbed by how few people seemed to be responding to a literal crisis at the US-Mexico border. Upwards of 6,000 people (including hundreds of small children) are living in crowded tent cities—weeks of limited access [...]

Love Knows No Borders2018-12-21T00:57:41-04:00

Union Theological Seminary joins with Morningside Heights Community Coalition and P.A.’L.A.N.T.E to Protect and Support Vulnerable New Yorkers

Announces Community Investment Initiative to Address Homelessness and Support Social Justice Funded Through Innovative Partnership with Lendlease and L+M (December 4, 2018 – NEW YORK) – Union Theological Seminary today announced its plan for a $5 million community investment initiative, alongside the Morningside Heights Community Coalition and P.A.’L.A.N.T.E., funded through an innovative partnership with Lendlease and L+M. Union is in the middle of a comprehensive campus revitalization to secure its future as an institution that trains people of all faiths who are called to the work of social justice in New York City and the world.  This effort includes upgrading and protecting existing structures, making the campus accessible, as well as collaborating, in conjunction with Lendlease and L+M, on a mixed-use facility to include classrooms, offices, faculty residences and market-rate housing. While taking these critical steps to renew its campus, Union, alongside partners Lendlease and L+M, are also committing resources to protect and support its neighbors. [...]

Union Theological Seminary joins with Morningside Heights Community Coalition and P.A.’L.A.N.T.E to Protect and Support Vulnerable New Yorkers2018-12-04T13:33:00-04:00
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