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“I do not belong to myself”: Reflections on African Spirituality and Theology, with Dr. Bienvenu Mayemba

By | A World on the Move, Events, Main News, Office of Community Life | No Comments


On April 6, Dr. Bienvenu Mayemba gave a lecture entitled “‘I do not belong to myself’: Reflections on African Spirituality and Theology.” Dr. Mayemba is a Jesuit priest and Theologian from the Democratic Republic of Congo. He resides in Abidjan, Ivory Coast where he is the Director of BARAZA, Chair of African Theology, the Coordinator of Academic Conferences, and Professor of Systematic Theology, African Theology and Postcolonial Theory at the Jesuit Institute of Theology and at the Catholic University of Western Africa.

Dr. Mayemba is currently serving as International Visiting Professor of African Religion and Christianity: Theological and Socio-Political Perspectives, at Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University in Berkeley. His talk was sponsored by the Changemaker Fellows 2016 Cohort and the Office of Community Life.

Watch the lecture here:

Reflections on African Spirituality and Theology from Pacific School of Religion on Vimeo.

New Doctor of Ministry program in Hawai’i

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Summer 2016, Pacific School of Religion will begin offering our Doctor of Ministry program in Hawai’i. This cohort of students will come from a wide range of places in the Pacific World and the focus of their work will be on the ministry issues that arise in the Pacific contexts. For the first class we expect students from Japan, Hawai’i, and American Samoa.

The PSR DMin program has three components:

  • the DMin seminar meetings with PSR faculty members where students meet together for one or two weeks annually to study methodologies, project design, and give progress reports on their work along with cohort meetings during the year on their own;
  • four elective courses (regular PSR courses taken by video conferencing, online courses from PSR, or courses taken at other schools and transferred into the PSR program);
  • and a project which analyses a problem in the practice of ministry and proposes a new approach to that practice.

Ministers who have a MDiv or equivalent education and training and have worked in ministry for at least three years after the completion of the Master of Divinity degree or other master’s level theological education are eligible to apply for the DMin. More information about the Doctor of Ministry program and its requirements are available here.

The first beginning DMin seminar will meet this summer in Honolulu July 25 – August 5. Applications for the PSR Hawai’i DMin program are accepted year round. The program begins with the seminar and it takes about six weeks to process a DMin application, so ministers who want to start this summer should apply no later than June 24 to be sure the admissions process is complete by the time the seminar begins.

If you have any questions, please be in touch with the PSR DMin Program Director, Randi Walker rwalker@psr.edu or call 510/849-8221, or contact the Admissions Office at 510/849-8931 or toll-free at 800/999-0528.

“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!