New Social Justice Degree Program Offered at Phillips
Phillips Theological Seminary has opened enrollment for a new degree program: Master of Arts (Social Justice). The degree program will provide students an opportunity to reflect on social justice as a central concern of contemporary Christian theologies. Prospective students include, but are not limited to: persons who want to prepare for or continue to work within church and non-profit organizations that address justice issues in society; and persons who seek to enhance their local church education and to discover direction for a renewed sense of service and outreach to larger communities.
“I am delighted that the faculty developed this new program,” said seminary president Gary Peluso-Verdend. “This new MA program embodies a core commitment of the seminary.”
This 38-hour degree program will be offered in on-campus and online formats, as are other master’s degrees at Phillips.
Upon completing the program, graduates will be able to act as responsible biblical interpreters critically informed by attention to the theme of justice in both testaments and in current historical, literary and theological scholarship in the field of biblical studies; attend to the continuing importance of interpreting events, texts and practices of church history and contemporary cross-cultural studies through the lenses of oppression, liberation, and reconciliation; and articulate perspectives on issues and topics in the area of public theology and ethics, informed by methods such as feminist/womanist, liberationist, process, and post-colonial models attentive to the theme of justice.
Lisa Wilson Davison, PhD and Johnnie Eargle Cadieux Professor of Hebrew Bible, remarked, “Given Phillips’ commitment to justice, this new master’s degree program is one more way that the seminary continues to live out its mission of ‘acting with God to transform the world.’ With its focus on Social Justice, this degree is perfect for those who are looking for a theological grounding of their own commitments to working for a world where all of creation experiences the fullness of equality.”
Milagro Christian Church Votes "Open and Affirming" With Both Hands Up
Phillips MDiv student Marnie Lineberger is doing “a bit of bragging” about her congregation, which voted unanimously on March 8 to be an open and affirming congregation in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).
“It was a happy moment,” said Marnie, pastor of Milagro Christian Church in Pueblo, Colo. “People voted with enthusiasm. The question wasn’t even asked and people were raising their hands, raising both hands.”
The visible show of support — and her emotional response to it — surprised Marnie, who has spent years shrugging off judgment about her own status as gay. When she started attending the church in 2009, she argued against an open and affirming policy, on the grounds that she didn’t want to be labeled as “other.”
“What I’ve realized is that ‘open and affirming’ is not a label, but a tool to enable people to find congregations to accept them,” she said.
It just so happened that the church had a new visitor the day of the vote — a young man who had just come out to his family. He’d been called an abomination and told he was going to hell, Marnie said. To be able to support him in such a public way made the vote all the more sweet.
“I’m proud that the people at Milagro have demonstrated that their understanding of the Gospel is the reason for inclusion and acceptance,” she said in a press release.
Marnie’s call to ministry is to make available a place for people hurt by the church, she said. “We are all made in God’s image. We are all children of a radically welcoming and radically inclusive God and we are all loved, deeply, by God.”
Activist to Speak About Human Trafficking and Sex Industry
Human rights activist Chris Heuertz will speak about his experience working with women and children who are victims of human trafficking and the sex industry at 7 p.m. April 10 at Christ Church in Tulsa, 10901 S. Yale Ave. A workshop on contemplative activism is planned for 1 to 4 p.m. April 11, with location to be determined based on group size.
Chris’ fight against human trafficking began in 1994 when he helped create safe haven and jobs at a children’s home for women escaping India’s commercial sex industry. Since then, he has spent 20 years working alongside organizations in Bolivia, India, Moldova, Romania and Thailand that establish small businesses and micro-enterprise initiatives as alternative means for women in prostitution.
Originally from Omaha, Neb., Chris studied at Asbury University in Kentucky before moving to India where he was mentored by Mother Teresa for three years. While living in India, he helped launch South Asia’s first pediatric AIDS care home – creating a safe haven for children impacted by the global pandemic.
His vocation has taken him to more than 70 countries working among the most vulnerable of the world’s poor. Chris’s topic will center on the idea that "fighting for the freedoms of others inevitably means you'll have to sacrifice freedoms of your own."
After 20 years of grassroots work in some of the world’s poorest slums, red light areas and places of intense human suffering, Chris and his wife, Phileena, founded Gravity: A Center for Contemplative Activism as a way to help communities maintain a vibrant, growing spirituality in the face of human need by integrating faith-filled spiritual practice with modern daily life and service.
In his workshop Chris will give an introduction to these contemplative practices and lead the group in perhaps an exercise of centering prayer and the examen...both with long traditions in Christianity. The workshop may vary depending on the group.
Doors to the April 10 event open at 6:30 p.m. A Q&A session will follow. Advance purchase tickets are $15; tickets bought after April 5 or at the door are $20. Tickets for the April 11 workshop are $50, and include admission to the April 10 event.
View http://www.thomaseingram.com/home/events.html for more information and to buy tickets.
Holy Week Library Hours
This upcoming week the library will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., except on Good Friday, when we will be closed. We also will be closed on Easter Monday, but starting Tuesday, April 7, our hours will return to normal.
Two Busy Weeks!
Greetings to my co-students at Phillips,
This week and last we’ve been having a busy and full time on campus. Having had the privilege to be present for both of the weeks, I can say there have been many blessings in the form of experiences. Last week was a wonderful time here at Phillips, with over half the MDiv students, along with others, in chapel worship with Dr. Dennis Smith. The wonders of technology allowed those who have known him and those who were just meeting him to have the blessing of his teaching. Jules was also on hand to provide fuel and sustenance to the theologizing throng. Interpretation Matters and the Gospel of Mark course provided a great mix of students in different stages of their seminary journeys. It was a joy to hear and see all of the different perspectives.
This week with Practices of Church Leadership and Administration we have experienced even more challenges to our approaches to ministry. We also have been blessed to hear and speak with Chris Dorsey, president of Higher Education and Leadership Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). We enjoyed breaking bread together as we did last week by partaking in a Schlotzsky’s lunch through the efforts of the Student Senate.
We invite all students — from the new to those who are graduating at the end of the semester — to contact the student senate if you have any questions or ideas that might make Phillips an even better place. Your senators are Ulysses Allen, Verla Miller, Mik King, Thomas Corrigan, Angie Combs, or Nick Van Dam online.
Whether you are a staff member enjoying a break, the pastor of a church gearing up for Holy Week, or somewhere in between, may God touch your heart with the transformative power of Easter.
Chris Dorsey, president of Higher Education and Leadership Ministries (HELM) of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), provided food for thought in his message Tuesday morning in chapel. The title of his sermon was “Mistaken Identity.” The homily challenged the church to look closely at its own identity. In order to determine our identity we have to be honest with ourselves. We have to be willing to look at everything — the pluses and minuses of who we are. Such a daunting task is difficult for us as individuals. I can only imagine how difficult it is for a community of faith! Chris asked us to reflect upon the identity of the church in relation to justice. What does the church look like when justice becomes a part of its identity?
When I answered the call to become a minister, I had no concept of “justice,” “theological reflection,” “context,” or many of the other terms we hear at seminary. I thought it was as simple as someone teaching me how to preach. I had no idea of the myriad ideas I would be flooded with as I learned about the history of the church, which was not always wonderful. I only wanted to help people. What did justice have to do with ministry?
Seminary doesn’t provide all of the answers, but does give us the tools to navigate these challenging concepts of communities of faith, justice in the world, and awareness of the privileges each of us have. Seminary continually challenges our own identities. I am not the same person I was when I entered seminary. Yet there are still parts of that person serving as the foundation within which the knowledge I gained from seminary has become rooted. I found seminary to be one of the most difficult degrees to achieve. Not because of the challenge of the readings, or writing papers, but because in order to write those papers I had to acknowledge who I was, the good and the bad, in order to truly reflect upon my place in the faith community and the community at large. My identity matters to the greater world.
If we are to be leaders in our congregations and communities, we have to be willing to be under the microscope — not just from our church or peers, but our own internal microscope. One of the key tools seminary provides us is self-awareness and the ability to reflect. The learning experience you are having now is rooted in your context, it is very personal, and it is transformative. As you discern your identity during your seminary journey, I hope you realize this art of reflection will always be with you. How do I know? Because I still hunger for justice, I still yearn for a community and churches following the path of Jesus, I still desire to know my identity in creation as ordained by the Creator – all conversations which started in seminary.
Seminary is a privilege not many people have access to. I hope you enjoy this opportunity and realize the gift we have as a community at Phillips. It’s simple, really. The world needs more justice for those whose identities don’t seem to matter to society at large. The world needs you to help make the world more aware.