Sharon R. Fennema

Assistant Professor of Christian Worship
Director of Certificate in Sexuality and Religion
Director of Worship Life

Academic Credentials: 
Bachelor of Music, St. Olaf College, 1998; Master of Arts in Religion, Yale Divinity School and Institute of Sacred Music, 2003; Ph.D., Graduate Theological Union, 2011.
"In our contemporary context where practices often precede belonging and belief, participation in worship is one of the primary ways that people of faith are formed in that faith. In and through preaching, sacraments, ritual, music, art, action and the experience of community, people encounter and come to know the Holy. Worship can be a place for creative engagement, for spiritual formation through participation, and for transformative experiences that offer a vision for social change. So, the study of worship and training for liturgical leadership is at its best when it is connected to real worshipping communities and their embodied practices. More than anything, my passion is for developing strategies for worship design, leadership, and preaching that will sustain and inspire faith communities, calling them to pursue justice with compassion, and leading them into the future."

Dr. Sharon Fennema came to PSR from Harvard Divinity School where she served as Lecturer on Ritual, Liturgy and Preaching from 2011-2013. Her research and teaching addresses the intersections of critical and gender theories with Christian worship as a practice which forms identity, performs theology, and shapes engagement in the public and political sphere. Drawing on the work of Judith Butler and queer theory, as well as performance theorist Richard Schechner, she has engaged in an historical ethnography of the worship practices at a San Francisco community of faith during the height of the early AIDS crisis in the United States, using it as the source for the creation of what she calls “a liturgical theodicy in practice,” which she is currently developing into a book manuscript. Her essay, "Practicing Purity: The Colonizing Force of Invisible Whiteness in Christian Worship" will appear in the collection Only One is Holy: Liturgy in Postcolonial Perspectives (Palgrave Macmillan, forthcoming, Fall 2014). An active member of the United Church of Christ, Sharon has recently lived in an intentional spiritual community (a ministry of the UCC) centered around the craft of wooden boat building called the Carpenter’s Boatshop in Pemaquid, Maine.

Her primary research interests include: queer theory, gender studies, and religious practices; postmodern culture, critical theories and worship; ritual studies and social theory; practical theologies; sacramental theologies; North American liturgical history; the arts in worship; theodicy and lament as apophatic practice; worship, eschatology and social change; theological education and pedagogy; spiritual practices in religious studies.

Dr. Sharon R. Fennema - Curriculum Vitae