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An invitation to co-create the world we imagine

Jan. 29, 2023—Dear Colleagues, friends, and James Lawson Institute (JLI) Community, We are yet again learning of the death of a Black man by those who have sworn to uphold Justice, pursue peace, and to protect.  What we know is that five police officers in Memphis, TN have been charged with the brutal beating and murder of...

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Call Folks by Their Names

Nov. 1, 2022—A reflection from our dean, Emilie M. Townes, for November 2022: When I was a little Black kid growing up in a very traditional Black transclass community in Durham, NC, and in my grandmother’s working class, Black community in West Southern Pines, NC, about 75 miles down US 1, one of the worst things you...

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Research on intersex experience highlights overlooked population in religious communities

Oct. 24, 2022—A new book from Stephanie Budwey, an assistant professor of the history and practice of Christian worship and the arts, discusses the erasure of intersex people in the areas of science, law, culture, and theology due to the assumption that all humans are either ‘female’ or ‘male.’

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A Benchmark for Our Actions

Oct. 16, 2022—A reflection from our dean, Emilie M. Townes, for October 2022: Lately, I’ve been finding myself talking about integrity in the various talks I’ve been giving. I do so because I think having integrity and living our lives by modeling it gives us a benchmark for our actions.  In this case, integrity is the quality...

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Fall 2022 Convocation Remarks from Dean emilie m. townes

Aug. 28, 2022—Dean Emilie M. Townes’ Fall Convocation remarks, as delivered on August 26, 2022 each opening convocation, we have begun by remembering those who have died since we were last together in May and to celebrate the new births during this time as well today, we remember those killed in mass shootings in highland park, il...

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Black girl joy, brilliance and magic are front and center at the inaugural Black Girls Becoming summer program

Aug. 1, 2022—In the spirit of former First Lady Michelle Obama’s memoir, Becoming, the program engages 7th and 8th grade Black girls in two weeks of classes that support their socio-emotional development while developing somatic and academic literacies.

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Do the hard and necessary work

Jul. 29, 2022—A reflection from our dean, Emilie M. Townes, for July 2022: With the early release of the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the landmark Roe v. Wade decision written by Justice Alito in May, we knew what the opinion would be. The finality of the end to the constitutional right to abortion, upheld for...

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The choice for historically Black congregations in Edgehill and 12 South: stay or go

Jul. 20, 2022—Originally published at 9:00 p.m. CT July 19, 2022 in the Tennessean. by Liam Adams and Sydney Satterwhite Key Points Demographic changes in Edgehill and 12 South caused by development have affected membership for historically Black congregations Five historically Black congregations have left the neighborhoods, and one is currently moving Some churches that have stayed wrestle with how...

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VDS student’s field education, guided by VDS alumna, provided much-needed pastoral care at local domestic violence shelter

Jun. 16, 2022—Camille Kammer (MDiv ’22) was one of the few VDS students whose field education at the YWCA Nashville & Middle Tennessee was completed in-person during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Her work providing pastoral care to women fleeing domestic violence served the largest domestic violence shelter in the region and was guided by Erika Callaway Kleiner (MDiv ’02).

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2022 Charge to the Graduates: Imagine Again

May. 20, 2022—well, for those of you who began your time here in the fall of 2019, you have been through it—not just in the classroom—but in the events that surrounded our lives that academic year began with a dispute between the subcontractors that built the new wing of our building all that light and air and...

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