Public Theology and Racial Justice Collaborative hires associate director

Divinity - Spire E-Newsletter [Vanderbilt University]

August 15, 2017

Dear alumni/ae and friends,

The death of a friend and a colleague takes the breath out of you. Tears and near tears become daily companions as you begin to come to terms that life has taken on a new normal. This summer, we lost our cherished colleague, the Rev. Dr. Dale P. Andrews . Dale was larger than life with his deep booming laugh and voice, his generous sense of humor, and his passionate care to widen the circle for more to enter into the conversation and have a respected voice.

Dale’s death has hit so many of us in the solar plexus—many of us imagined that we would have more time with him, though we knew the days were being limited by the cancer he was battling. Such was not to be. We celebrate his legacy of giving back to those around him in great ways and small. We honor his memory in our commitment as a school to continue to insist on our mission to engage, prepare and encourage this generation and future generations to live an active faith in a world that desperately needs to see and experience lived compassion and justice. We hope to establish a scholarship fund in his memory, so I encourage you to keep an eye peeled for an announcement in the future. We will miss him.

As tinges of mourning rim the beginning of this new academic year, we look forward to welcoming a new entering class and greeting returning students. This will be a full year as we begin to put meat on the bones of our new curriculum that will launch in the fall of 2018. These are both exciting and challenging times for theological education. We are mindful about where we have come from and use our past to help us think more carefully about those things we need to carry forward into the future.

There are new ways we must incorporate into how we teach and learn—not as theological sergeant-at-arms, but as guides and interlocutors; not as moral curmudgeons, but as vibrant ontological witnesses to possibilities as well as failures and successes; not as rigid benchmarks that never change, but as individuals who seek God’s ongoing revelation in our lives, in our schools, in our religious homes, and in our hearts. Welcome to this new year at the Divinity School, and I invite you to join us on this magnificent adventure of faith.


Emilie M. Townes

E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Chair
Professor of Womanist Ethics and Society


Meet Teresa Smallwood, the new associate director of the Divinity School’s Public Theology and Racial Justice Collaborative.





Amy Jill Levine has co-authored a children’s book that imaginatively retells three of Jesus’ parables from the perspective of first-century Jews.




Keri Day, PhD’09, has joined Princeton Theological Seminary as associate professor of constructive theology and African American religion.




Visit our job listings for alumni/ae and current students.




VDS in the News

Nashville Business Journal: VDS plans $11.5 million renovation, expansion

James Hudnut-Beumler’s article for The Conversation, “ Cash is king in religion — so churches are installing ATM’s,” also appeared in the Washington Post.

Ellen Armour was interviewed by The Tennessean about the first women bishops to lead Pentecostal Assemblies of the World dioceses.

The New Orleans Times-Picayune and Huntsville Times ran Bruce Morrill’s article for The Conversation, “ Before the digital age, how religious groups increased the numbers in their order.”

Dean Emilie Townes, Keri Day, PhD’09, Barbara Holmes, PhD’98, and Kimberly Russaw, MA’10 and PhD’16, are included in the article “ Six black women at the center of gravity in theological education.”

The Rev. Joaquin Garcia, MDiv’98, received the Francis Asbury Award for support of higher education and campus ministries within the United Methodist Church.

A warm welcome to our new VDS director of communications, Sophia Kristina R. Agtarap!

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