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A World on the Move
Queering Faith
Igniting Change

Immersion Blogs


“Creativity is evidence of the divine”: Patrisha Gill, Artist in Residence at City of Refuge

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Patrisha Gill (front row, third from right) is working towards her Master of Theological Studies with a concentration in liturgical studies, focusing on worship in the arts. For her Field Education placement, Patrisha serves as Artist in Residence at City of Refuge United Church of Christ in Oakland.

Through my Field Education work, I’m exploring how the arts­­—video, visual arts, dance, photography, spoken word, and music—enhance the worship experience. As worship leaders, how can we provide ways to make sure the artist’s expressions have meaning for all? My goal is to create a space where participants see God, meet God, talk to God; pray, smile, laugh; be one with one another, the earth and the divine. This experience has transformed me.

I love the quote, “Imagination is evidence of the divine.” I would venture to say that creativity is also evidence of the divine. I don’t know if spirituality enhances creativity or vice versa, but I believe we’ve all been given gifts, and those gifts can be used to transform lives.

At PSR, I’m learning to create sacred space; Professor Sharon Fennema has been an amazing mentor and teacher in that area. Watching her has helped me see things differently and trust myself in this area, and I would love to teach other worship leaders new ways of creating sacred space. Our worship needs not only to create a space of comfort, but discomfort: to think and pray on things that make us uncomfortable, to jar us a little bit, to move us into action.

I’ve been involved in music all my life, but I’ve always had to fall back on my accounting skills to support myself. The exactness of numbers, reconciling down to the penny, appeals to the right side of my brain. And while it’s very separate from my music and other creative pursuits, accounting is essential in church administration.  When you are a director of a department, and not just a worship leader, you need both the creative side and the administrative side. It’s great when you can utilize both sides of your brain in ministry.

I find it so honoring that the members of City of Refuge are investing in me.

I was their minister of music years ago­—they’re still willing to invest in this new part of me, to come along with me on this journey. I’m profoundly grateful to have the chance to express everything inside of me in this way, and to the people who have made it happen, Mz. Ann (Pastor Ann Jefferson), Bishop Yvette Flunder, and my partner, Rev. Janice Steele.

I want to take the things that I learn here, add my imagination, and ask God to blow on that creation and bless it, so it lives and breathes to bless others.

What’s new at CLGS?

By | Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry, Main News, Queering Faith | No Comments

News from the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry!

Rev. Roland Stringfellow, coordinator of the CLGS African American Roundtable and Umoja project, is featured by the Center for American Progress as religious leader to watch. He’s highlighted because of CLGS’ work on religious liberty last year. In 2005, Roland was ordained with the Metropolitan Community Church and in 2006 he earned his Master of Divinity from the Pacific School of Religion with a Certificate in Religion and Sexuality.  In 2011, Roland became licensed with the United Church of Christ and The Fellowship churches, a predominately African-American denomination with an outreach to LGBT individuals.  Check it out here

The Center for American Progress has included Dr. Justin Tanis, on a video discussing trans-inclusive faith communities. CLGS Managing Director Dr. Tanis earned his Master of Divinity at Harvard Divinity School and his Doctor of Ministry degree from San Francisco Theological Seminary. His dissertation was published in 2003 by Pilgrim Press as Transgendered: Ministry, Theology, and Communities of Faith and was a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award that year. Watch it here


Live and in person: Old Time Homebrewed Christianity Podcast

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Live and in person!

Old Time Homebrewed Christianity

Quality Podcast

The indomitable Tripp Fuller is coming to the GTU! Join us as he records an episode of the audiological goodness that is the Homebrewed Christianity podcast!

Witness! Tripp Hudgins (ABSW) talk with visiting Tripp about his Homebrewed Christianity Guide to Jesus: Lord, Liar, Lunatic… Or Awesome?

Relish! PSR’s own Sharon FennemaScott MacDougall (CDSP), and Valerie Miles-Tribble (ABSW) discussing socially engaged theology

Savor! GTU deans, including Arthur Holder (GTU), Paul Martin (ABSW), and Mark Richardson (CDSP), envisioning theological education

Marvel! as Tripp Hudgins (ABSW), Carol Jacobson (PLTS), and PSR’s own Jay Johnson match wits in an astounding quiz show!

and Enjoy free beer courtesy of Heretic Brewery! (Special guest appearance by aditional beverages and refreshments!

Thursday, February 4, 2016, 8pm at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific’s Denniston Refectory

Space is limited, so reserve your FREE  seat today at tinyurl.com/qbft9et

Brought to you by the American Baptist Seminary of the West, Church Divinity School of the Pacific, and Pacific School of Religion

(Un)Holy Places and Displacements

By | A World on the Move, Holy Places and Displacements, Immersions, Main News | No Comments

by Latishia James, MDiv Student

Latishia is currently traveling with the Holy Places and Displacements immersion to Jordan, Palestine, and Israel.

It is now Friday morning in this part of the world; it is a little after 5:00AM to be exact. And though I had my very comfortable, super efficient gel earplugs in I heard the call to prayer. I heard it in my spirit and felt compelled to get up. I was being called to be a witness to the movement of Spirit.

On Thursday evening we crossed the Border from Jordan (the country-East Bank of the Jordan River) into Nazareth (West Bank of the Jordan). I wish that the spoken word were adequate enough to capture the degradation and humiliation that I witnessed last night. However, I do not think it is something you can truly understand unless you experience it yourself. The culture of fear and desperation that has been cultivated by the Israelis in the hearts and minds of Palestinian people is deplorable. My classmates and I were pushed, shoved, stepped on. We were perhaps seen as not only foreigners but also ignorant travelers not familiar with the brutality of the process. While I do not blame these people for their actions it was hard to be conscious that their behavior is a more product of the environment that has been created than it is a reflection of their own morality. And while I know this to be true I had to succumb to this culture along with the rest of the group in order to succeed in completing the first step in this dehumanizing process. The East Flatbush girl in me revealed herself very quickly and while it now brings me shame to admit I had no issue with accessing her in that moment; the moment where the desperation that permeated the air took hold of me.

I do not have a picture to show you. I think everyone in the group was so entrenched in attempting to process what had just happened that it didn’t even occur to us. But also I am glad I do not have a picture to show and did not think to take one, because the humiliation that Palestinian people endure going through that process is enough without some foreigner, who is presumed to be Christian, documenting it for her own consumption. I do not need some gruesome memento to remember this night, and I refuse to turn what I bore witness to into no more than entertainment, as has been done with Black Pain through the sharing of videos of our slaughter.

The contradictions that were experienced in the span of our 15-hour day are vast and yet not really contradictions at all. Rather they reflect the complexity that is the human experience quite accurately. My morning and afternoon found me immersed in some of the most sacred and spiritually rooted sites in the world. My group and I had the privilege of visiting the site that is thought to be where Jesus was baptized and then we walked down into the Jordan River; we walked through the wilderness that archaeologists and historians say John Baptist and Jesus traversed to get there. I stood in the Jordan River and felt the presence of all things holy there, I wept for the injustices and atrocities committed in this holy land in the name of man’s religion. I wept for Jesus as I thought about him willingly going to his death in the name of Justice over Empire. I wept for every agent of social transformation who dared to do the same, before and since Jesus, who were also executed by those in power. I wept for the generations of people uprooted from the land on which I was accessing through my American and presumed Christian privilege. And then when the tears stopped I renewed my promise to justice and my commitment to the vocation I am being formed for.

It took everything in me when we initially got to the checkpoint to resist intervening where I saw injustice occurring. I battled between operating under the savior complex and the (a)pathetic neo-liberalism of “this is not my responsibility.” As I stood in the lines I remembered the prayer we the group had been led to pray earlier that day:

“…May I grow in understanding of my own motives,

knowing that people often act out of their own fears.

May I be a force for replacing fear with insight…”

I know that part of my reason for being on this trip is to be a witness and share what I witness with others who may be ignorant of what is happening on this side of the world. Our fear of the “other” fuels the continuation of the decimation of a people, a fear evident in my home country of the United States. May you gain insight from my experience, may you replace it with any fear you may possess.

Welcome to Filipe Maia, PSR’s new Assistant Professor of United Methodist Studies and Leadership

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Pacific School of Religion welcomes Filipe Maia to the seminary’s faculty as its new Assistant Professor of United Methodist Studies and Leadership. Mr. Maia will begin teaching in Fall 2016.

IMG_7045Mr. Maia is currently completing his doctoral degree at Harvard Divinity School where he has focused his studies on Latin American liberation theology, contemporary finance, and temporality. His published works include a Portuguese translation of two important texts: John Wesley’s 1774 essay “Thoughts Upon Slavery” (2013) and Joerg Rieger’s book Grace Under Pressure: Negotiating the Heart of the Methodist Tradition (2012). Mr. Maia comes to PSR with a life-long membership in The Methodist Church of Brazil and a deep personal commitment to global Methodism. He will work closely with members of the California-Nevada Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church and the seminary’s many United Methodist students and alums.

Pacific School of Religion Professor Odette Lockwood-Stewart, Chair of the Search Committee, said: “We are thrilled to welcome Filipe Maia, a brilliant young United Methodist scholar, to Pacific School of Religion. Filipe’s theological depth, global experience, and perspective will strengthen and bless not only our United Methodist students, staff and faculty, but all of our students, staff, faculty and alums—as well as the United Methodist connection itself.  I look forward to the contributions he will make and give thanks for the roots from which he grew.”

Warner H. Brown, Jr., Bishop of the United Methodist Church’s Western Jurisdiction, San Francisco Episcopal Area, noted that “The leadership of the California-Nevada Conference looks forward to working with Mr. Filipe Maia.  His experience of working in the church in Brazil and the United States will be a major asset in our efforts to develop principled spiritual leaders.  He brings a strong understanding of our Wesleyan ethos and the value of working with our ecumenical and inter-faith partners.”

Welcome, Professor Maia!

“Homosexuality is a Threat to Our Family and Nation”: Challenging the Korean Protestant Right’s Anti-LGBT Movement

By | Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry, Events, Main News, Queering Faith | No Comments

February 18, 6:00 – 7:30pm

Badè Museum, Pacific School of Religion

1798 Scenic Ave., Berkeley, CA

Livestream Access to the Lecture will be available here 

Join us for this special lecture with Dr. Nami Kim, Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia. This event is co-sponsored by PSR’s Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry, the Graduate Theological Union’s Korean Student Association & Pacific School of Religion’s Asian and Pacific Islander Program Initiative.

Experiencing the slowdown of the domestic church growth, Korean Protestant Christianity entered the phase of post-hypermasculine developmentalism. Hypermasculine developmentalism characterized  not only the society’s rapid industrialization and urbanization during the three decades of military regimes but also the “miraculous” growth of Korean Protestant Christianity from 1960s until late 1980s. The Protestant Right, a subset of Korean Protestant Christianity, resurfaced as a unified social and political force in the post-hypermasculine developmentalism period. The reemerged Protestant Right  that combines conservative evangelical/fundamentalist gendered theology with social and political conservatism, wittingly or unwittingly, engaged hegemonic masculinity by redefining, reclaiming, or reasserting it.The Protestant Right’s anti-LGBT movement has shown its reassertion of hegemonic masculinity in relation to sexual minorities and gender nonconforming people. This talk discusses the ways in which the Protestant Right has led the anti-LGBT movement in South Korea. It will specifically examine three loci of the Protestant Right’s anti-gay bashing: mass media, the grade school, and the military, and expose the complex but often hidden interplay between homophobia, heterosexism, anticommunism, and ethnocentric nationalism of conservative Korean Protestant Christianity.

Nami Kim

Nami Kim is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. Kim’s research interests meet at the intersections of feminist theology, feminist theory, Asian North American religious/theological studies, and world Christianity.  Her most recent articles include “Roundtable: Asian/Asian North American Feminist Theologies” (co-authored with W. Anne Joh, publishedJournal of Feminist Studies in Religion), and her co-edited volume (with W. Anne Joh), Critical Theology against U.S. Militarism in Asia: Decolonization and Deimperialization, is forthcoming (Palgrave, 2015). She is currently working on the manuscript on the gendered politics of Korean Protestant Right. Dr. Kim served as co-chairs of the Women and Religion and the Asian North American Religion, Culture, and Society at the American Academy of Religion, and currently serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion as well as the Journal of Race, Ethnicity, and Religion.

Centers receive major grants for Nehirim LGBTQ Jewish Roundtable and Ignite Institute

By | Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry, Igniting Change, Main News, Queering Faith | No Comments

Pacific School of Religion rings in 2016 with two new major grants for our centers, supporting the creation of an LGBTQ Jewish Roundtable and providing operational support to our Ignite Institute.

From our Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry (CLGS):

In 2016, a new chapter of CLGS’ work begins as we add the Nehirim LGBTQ Jewish Roundtable to our family of programs. Nehirim, a Jewish LGBTQ organization founded in 2004, is closing their doors at the end of this year but have ensured that their programming will continue as part of several other organizations. CLGS is truly honored to have been asked to be one of those partners and will now be home to the Nehirim LGBTQ Jewish clergy group, which offers networking, programs, and retreats, among other things and a project on gender identity in halachic law.

The Walter & Elise Haas Fund generously agreed to provide funding for this transition and the first year of the program. This will allow us to hire a staff person for 10 hours per week to join us here at PSR and coordinate programming for Jewish LGBTQ leaders. We have also contracted with Rabbi Emily Aviva Kapor who will be doing important research about the relationship of transgender people to Jewish law. She’ll present her findings at a conference in the fall of 2016.

CLGS and Nehirim have had strong links in the past. Nehirim’s founder, Dr. Jay Michaelson, delivered CLGS’ John E. Boswell Lecture in 2014, “Queer Theology and Social Transformation: Points of Contact, Points of Conflict.” Nehirim and CLGS also worked together in 2012, with PSR hosting a gathering of transgender Jews, which is believed to have been the first retreat of its kind.

The Nathan Cummings Foundation has provided a major grant for operating funds for PSR’s Ignite Institute. The Nathan Cummings Foundation  is “rooted in the Jewish tradition and committed to democratic values and social justice, including fairness, diversity, and community. We seek to build a socially and economically just society that values nature and protects the ecological balance for future generations; promotes humane health care; and fosters arts and culture that enriches communities.”

The grant will support operational support so Ignite may fulfill its mission to provide education and training for spiritually-rooted changemakers, excavate and communicate the transformational narratives within progressive spiritual traditions, and by anchoring a network of faith communities, social justice organizations, and activists working towards economic justice.