A group of students gathered in a large room at McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago on Monday August 22, 2016 filled with excitement and anticipation of sitting under a brilliant, compassionate, versed, radical man of God (sounds a lot like Jesus, huh?) Dr. Jeremiah Wright Jr. Not knowing each other, we were tasked with allowing our spirits to be our guide as we connected with new theologians who we would purpose to spend the next three years studying with. We were from many parts of the United States, and our commonality was that we all had studied at different seminaries, received many degrees and had a thirst for more.
One by one we introduced ourselves by offering a snapshot of who we were, where we came from, what social justice work we had done and why we were in the room. The week unfolded with incredible lectures, readings, and thought provoking discussions. As we sectioned off into cohorts to participate in “forward looking” into our prospective studies we realized we had much in common as it related to how we view religion, spirituality and social justice.
During our class time we studied the writings of Willie Jennings (The Christian Imagination); Charles Mills (The Racial Contract); Charles Taylor (What is a Social Imaginary); Mercy Oduyoye (Introducing African Women’s Theology); Anthony Reddie (Working Against the Grain); Michele Gonzales (Afro Cuban theology) and other incredible writings. We found ourselves immersed in the origin of “African Roots” as we studied the Kairos Document and how it challenged the church with a comparison of the political crisis in South Africa. Through the “Diasporic Fruits” segment of classes we read and discussed what we experience in modernity and what is termed the “double consciousness.”
We were given the opportunity to receive lectures on Skype from professors in Africa and social justice advocates in the U.S. Being able to hear at first hand, what was going on in the Motherland and compare it to what we do here as justice advocates created a partnership across the waters.
At the end of the week long class each cohort presented information based on what we had studied and were able to complete the class with new information, new understanding and new desire to prepare for the next class which will be held in West Africa at the end of 2016. It was a powerful time together!