Home > Public Events & Education > Conversations > Conversations 2014 > Candlelight Vigil for Justice
Sep  2014 10
Phillips Joins Metropolitan Baptist Church in Candlelight Vigil for Justice

Phillips Theological Seminary joined Metropolitan Baptist Church (the Met) for a Candlelight Vigil for Justice on Sunday, Aug. 31, in response to the fatal shooting of Mike Brown in Ferguson, Mo.

"Our presence up front and behind the scenes was remarkable," Peluso-Verdend said. "I am proud of this community’s showing for this important community event, organized as part of a response to a tragic incident."

Mindy McGarrah Sharp, Assistant Professor of Pastoral Theology and Ethics at Phillips, offered a responsive reading during the vigil. Sharp thinks that now is the time to engage in public conversations about race and violence.

“In his remarkable ‘Letter from a Birmingham Jail,’ Martin Luther King, Jr. distinctly addressed the white church who considered themselves his allies,” McGarrah Sharp said. “He wrote that the biggest mistake that white allies make is to call for patience and more time before engaging difficult conversations around race and violence in earnest.”

McGarrah Sharp, who teaches courses in ethics, pastoral theology and practical theology, says she intentionally addresses violence and grief in the classroom, because they persist in every community. She says she works with students to help prepare them to remain present and act responsibly during times of loss and violence.

“Phillips engages national conversations of race and violence through our teaching, scholarship, community life, public witness, and, most importantly, desire to live in community as a neighbor and partner of justice in Tulsa and beyond,” she said. “My primary role in addressing race and violence at Phillips is through my teaching, but these themes are also an important part of my scholarship and service.”

Josh Linton, the Director of Recruitment at Phillips, shared a reflection of peace at the vigil and spoke about the nature of “bad death” as described in Toni Morrison’s novel, “Beloved.” He asked those attending the vigil what peace means in the light of untimely, violent death.

“People who die badly, they don’t let us forget, they won’t stay quiet; their story will be told,” he shared. “And the story of their bad death won’t always fall on welcome ears. Some people don’t like to talk of bad deaths, especially if those deaths implicate them and disrupt their peace of mind.”

Linton, who studies critical race theory from the perspective of white privilege, believes Phillips provides a counter-voice in Christian discussions about race, privilege and violence.

“As a theological institution of higher education, it’s our responsibility to the public good and the hope of justice to facilitate and help inform the discussions where religion, theology, biblical interpretation, and faith intersect with conversations committed to eradicating the racist impulses of our society’s ordering systems,” he said.

Linton says he hopes conversations about race, privilege and violence create movement toward a more just society. However, he believes such violence will continue until society’s narrative of white supremacy is addressed.

“Justice in light of deaths like Mike Brown’s is impossible until black bodies receive the same systemic, social and psychological benefit of the doubt that white bodies do,” he said.

McGarrah Sharp agrees that race and violence need to be addressed before lasting change takes place.

“There are many ways to engage conversations about race and violence,” she said. “The only mistake seems to be to only wait in silence, to call for patience, to wait for the right time.”

Several members of the Phillips community attended the vigil, including seminary President Gary Peluso-Verdend ,alumnus Chris Moore and honorary degree recipient Rev. Marlin Lavanhar.  Phillips student and Met Associate Pastor Ulysses Allen and affiliate faculty member and Met Pastor Ray Owens were involved in the leadership and presentation of the event.
Browse more posts by: Communications Office, Phillips Admin/Staff
Comments for this article are disabled.
Phillips Theological Seminary offers Christian graduate theological education
in service of intelligent, just, and compassionate religious and civic communities. We welcome
students to a safe space for truth-seeking conversations about the Bible, Jesus, and faithful living.
Courses available on campus and online for certificate, diploma, MDiv, MAMC, MASJ, & MTS
programs, and on campus for the DMin program.

Phillips Theological Seminary

901 N. Mingo Road
Tulsa, OK 74116

p 918-610-8303
f 918-610-8404

Campus & Directions

Site content © 2005-17 Phillips Theological Seminary

The materials on this website are owned, held, or licensed by Phillips Theological Seminary and are available for personal, non-commercial, and educational use, provided Phillips is properly cited. Any commercial use of the materials, without the written permission by Phillips Theological Seminary, is strictly prohibited.

Site design, programming, and CMS © 2005-17 Verdend Interactive

Like PTS on Facebook
Follow PTS on Twitter
Subscribe to RSS and Podcasts