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BRSG Consultation

Twenty-Second Annual Black Religious Scholars Group Consultation
November 22, 2019

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Our 2019 consultation, “Making It Plain: Mapping Where Do We Go from Here,” will be an exception to our past consultations.  This new format is an effort to revisit how we reflect upon the history of Black religious scholarly activism as well as strategize a more thoroughgoing program for partnering with religious constituencies, promoting innovative scholarship, producing relevant public programs, cultivating professional development, and collating archival initiatives.

As the BRSG looks forward to its third decade in existence, this gathering serves as a way to expand the ways that scholar-practitioners of Black religion and theology can acknowledge, advocate, and advance the central role that Black faith and scholarship have had in shaping history and culture for people of African descent. Ultimately, the consultation will provide a critical platform of resources and convening opportunities to the enhancement of the communities of faith and the shared work of religious leaders, scholars, and activists in this contemporary era.  

Making It Plain: Mapping Where Do We Go from Here 

Rev. Dr. Teresa Fry Brown            

How to Publish, Preach and Practice Public Theology at the Intersections of Faith, Formation, and Flourishing

Rev. Melanie Jones  

How to Faith and Forming Emerging Scholars in a Millennial Age

Rev. Dr. Peter Paris         

How to Stay the Course and Cultivate Our Calls while Furthering the Legacy of Black Religious Leadership as Elders

Rev. Dr. Brad R. Braxton

How to Attend to the Brick and Mortar while transcending Ivory Towers and Stained Glass Ceilings 

2019 Council of Griots

Teresa Fry Brown

Rev. Dr. Teresa Fry Brown

Bandy Professor of Preaching of the Candler School of Theology, Emory University

The Rev. Dr. Teresa L. Fry Brown is the Bandy Professor of Preaching, a chaired professorship created in 1986 with a gift from B. Jackson Bandy that is considered by many to be the country’s premier chair in homiletics. Fry Brown has taught at Candler since 1994, and in 2010, she became the first African American woman to attain the rank of full professor. She also served as the Director of Candler’s Black Church Studies program until 2015.

Fry Brown’s research interests include homiletics, womanism, womanist ethics, socio-cultural transformation, and African diaspora history focusing on African American spiritual values. In addition to five monographs and four books, she has written articles and chapters for over a dozen more, including Delivering the Sermon: Voice, Body and Animation in Proclamation (Fortress Press, 2008); Can A Sister Get a Little Help: Advice and Encouragement for Black Women in Ministry (Pilgrim Press, 2008); and Weary Throats and New Song: Black Women Proclaiming God’s Word (Abingdon Press, 2003).

Peter Paris

Rev. Dr. Peter Paris

Elmer G. Homrighausen Professor, Emeritus

Princeton Theological Seminary

Dr. Paris is a world renowned scholar, honored most recently by a collection in his honor, Ethics That Matters: African, Caribbean, and African American Sources. Indeed, he is known for his teaching and research in “ethics that matters.” He is the Elmer G. Homrighausen Professor Emeritus of Christian Social Ethics, of Princeton Theological Seminary, having worked closely also with the Princeton University African American Studies Program. He has also been Fellow at Center for the Study of World Religions, Harvard University, in 2008-2009, and has been Visiting Professor in Harvard University Divinity School, Union Theological Seminary (New York), and Trinity Theological College (Legon, Ghana). Formerly, Dr. Paris taught on the faculties of Vanderbilt University Divinity School and Howard University School of Divinity.

Dr. Paris is widely published, and his books include Religion and Poverty: Pan-African Perspectives; Virtues and Values:The African and African American Experience; The Spirituality of African Peoples: The Search for a Common Moral Discourse, and Black Religious Leaders: Conflict in Unity. In other publications, he has focused on: ethical formation; preaching and social justice; globalization; public theology; Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy; and the interaction of race, gender, and religion. He is currently the General Editor of the series on Religion, Race, and Ethnicity with the New York University Press, and he continues to lecture and teach widely throughout the United States, Canada, Jamaica, Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, India and Brazil.

Melanie Jones

Rev. Melanie Jones, Ph.D. Candidate

Director of Katie Geneva Cannon Center for Womanist Leadership

Instructor of Ethics, Theology and Culture

Union Presbyterian Seminary

Melanie C. Jones is a womanist ethicist, millennial preacher, and intellectual activist. Melanie joined the Union Presbyterian Seminary faculty as Instructor of Ethics, Theology and Culture and Inaugural Director of the Katie Geneva Cannon Center for Womanist Leadership in fall 2019. Formerly, Melanie served as the 2018-19 Crump Visiting Professor and Black Religious Scholar-in-Residence at Seminary of the Southwest in Austin, TX, and Lecturer at Brite Divinity School in Fort Worth, TX, American Baptist College in Nashville, TN, Chicago Theological Seminary, and The Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, IL.

Melanie earned a B.A. in Economics and Political Science from Howard University and a Master of Divinity with a certificate in Black Church Studies from Vanderbilt University Divinity School. She is a Doctor of Philosophy candidate at Chicago Theological Seminary completing her dissertation. Melanie’s research probes the scripting of the body in theology and philosophy that fosters religious, cultural, and moral meaning for the present with particular attention to Black women’s body politics. Melanie engages womanist theological ethics and sacred texts, millennials and faith, and Black aesthetics and popular culture. For her distinguished research, Melanie has received notable fellowships and scholarships, including The Forum for Theological Exploration, The Louisville Institute, and Villanova University Center for Church Management.

 Melanie is co-curator of #MillennnialWomanism Digital Forum and Co-Founder of The Millennial Womanism Project (TMWP) — an enterprise committed to enhancing the well-being of Black millennial women of faith and justice and fostering trans-generational womanist dialogue. As a global leader serving professional societies and international boards, Melanie is the chair of the board of directors of the Daughters of the African Atlantic Fund.

Brad Braxton

Rev. Dr. Brad R. Braxton

Interim Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Church-School Initiative, St. Luke's School and Founding Senior Pastor, The Open Church of Maryland

Brad R. Braxton is the  interim director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Church-School Intiatives at St. Luke's School and the founder of The Open Church of Maryland. He holds a Ph.D. in New Testament studies from Emory University, where he was a George W. Woodruff Fellow, a Master’s degree in theology from the University of Oxford, where he was a Rhodes Scholar, and a B.A. degree in religious studies from the University of Virginia, where he was a Jefferson Scholar and a member of Phi Beta Kappa. He is the author of three scholarly books and numerous articles and essays. His writings explore the role of religion in promoting a more diverse, inclusive, and equitable world. His books No Longer Slaves: Galatians and African American Experience and Preaching Paul are frequently used in divinity school courses.

Dr. Braxton is a seasoned scholar and educator. Currently, he is a Professorial Lecturer in the Department of Theology at Georgetown University. From 2016-2017, he served as a Lecturer at Harvard Divinity School. Additionally, he was a tenured, full professor at Southern Methodist University’s Perkins School of Theology, where he held the Lois Craddock Perkins Chair in preaching. He also has served as distinguished visiting scholar at McCormick Theological Seminary, a tenured associate professor at Vanderbilt University Divinity School, and an assistant professor at Wake Forest University School of Divinity.  

His leadership has extended beyond the academy to the arenas of philanthropy and religious communities. He formerly served as the Program Officer for Religion in the Public Sphere at the Ford Foundation in New York City, the Senior Minister of the Riverside Church in New York City, and the Senior Pastor of Douglas Memorial Community Church in Baltimore, Maryland.

Location and Time

Hilton San Diego Bayfront
1 Park Boulevard
San Diego, California 92101

5:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Contact Information:

Black Religious Scholars Group
Vanderbilt University Divinity School
411 21st Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37240