Mission Year to attend FTE’s Discernment Retreat in Lake Arrowhead, California.

"> Our Becoming | Forum for Theological Exploration Falling Deeper Into My Calling | Forum for Theological Exploration Let the Streets Inspire You | Forum for Theological Exploration Whose Name is on the Invitation? | Forum for Theological Exploration The Feeble Art of Radical Hospitality | Forum for Theological Exploration Finding God in the Rabbit Trail | Forum for Theological Exploration What is Worship to Me | Forum for Theological Exploration A Resolution for Religion | Forum for Theological Exploration I am a Pile of Trash | Forum for Theological Exploration Critical Feeling | Forum for Theological Exploration “Do you not perceive it?” Isaiah 43:19 | Forum for Theological Exploration Buddy Crossed the Line | Forum for Theological Exploration Campus Ministries Shaping the Future | Forum for Theological Exploration Teaching Theology after Ferguson | Forum for Theological Exploration Imagination Next | Forum for Theological Exploration Campus Ministries that Stick | Forum for Theological Exploration How to Harness the Awkward Pause | Forum for Theological Exploration In Praise of Small Spaces | Forum for Theological Exploration Culture Shock | Forum for Theological Exploration Can We Keep Our Promises? | Forum for Theological Exploration Living Stream Church of the Brethren.

"> Innovative Ministries: Stepping outside my box | Forum for Theological Exploration Attentiveness and Practices in Christian Ministry | Forum for Theological Exploration Conducting My Beautiful, Cacophonous Clone Choir | Forum for Theological Exploration Can you Repack That? | Forum for Theological Exploration A Christian Take on Mindfulness | Forum for Theological Exploration The Building of Community in Unlikely Places | Forum for Theological Exploration Compensation for Being | Forum for Theological Exploration Transitioning-into-Ministry (TiM) Participants Gathering. The first year I thought it was a fluke. The second year I was looking for it. This year, I was expecting it. What was is “it”? The power of a room.

"> The Power of a Room | Forum for Theological Exploration Communication as an Art | Forum for Theological Exploration Shhhhhhhh! | Forum for Theological Exploration Do We Know Enough About Other Religions? | Forum for Theological Exploration Is the Institutional Church Worth Saving? | Forum for Theological Exploration A Muddy Epiphany | Forum for Theological Exploration Prayers on the Wind | Forum for Theological Exploration Vocation and Inspiration | Forum for Theological Exploration What a Vocational Calling to Ministry Means to Me | Forum for Theological Exploration The Anti-Tourism of Meditation | Forum for Theological Exploration When Lions Have Historians | Forum for Theological Exploration Seeking the Kingdom—and Finding It | Forum for Theological Exploration Cultivating Quality Leadership for a Sustainable Church | Forum for Theological Exploration Single-Leader-Centered vs Group-Centered Leadership | Forum for Theological Exploration Leadership Capacities Every Young Pastor Must Learn | Forum for Theological Exploration Freedom to Flunk | Forum for Theological Exploration National Festival of Young Preachers. Originally published on The Huffington Post.

Let us take a moment to look at what Hebrew Scripture teaches about Sabbath. In Exodus, the longest of the 10 commandments says that we should do all our work in six days but on the seventh we should not do any work, nor should we allow anyone else to work—not our children, not those who serve us, not the resident aliens, not even our livestock and animals. (Exodus 20: 8-11) Everybody gets a day off.

Our scriptures understand it. Our story tells it. But do we imbibe it? Do we speak the language of Sabbath?

"> There is No Rest | Forum for Theological Exploration A Musical Ministry | Forum for Theological Exploration Reflections on the Samuel Dewitt Proctor Conference | Forum for Theological Exploration Volunteers Update from Nashville | Forum for Theological Exploration Love and Imperfection | Forum for Theological Exploration Here Comes a Happy Minister | Forum for Theological Exploration Turn, Turn, Turn | Forum for Theological Exploration Ashes to Ashes | Forum for Theological Exploration Finding God and Health In The Experience of Storytelling | Forum for Theological Exploration Come Saturday Morning | Forum for Theological Exploration Stumbling Into the Digital Reformation | Forum for Theological Exploration 20 Steps to a Renewed Church | Forum for Theological Exploration church is boring,” some 20+ million results appear, much of it, well, very, very boring…). But this time was different…

"> Bored to Tears: An Act of Contrition for Young Adult Believers | Forum for Theological Exploration 20 Steps to a Renewed Church (posted on April 8th). At first, I didn’t think I had anything more to say than I’d already said. Plus, the mere mention of Church Issues makes me want to fill my backpack with trail mix and furs and head into the Alaskan wilderness indefinitely. But then… what I got to ponder was how easy it is to spout off a Manifesto For How To Live, and how hard it is to actually live. So, here’s my follow-up to the original post.

"> Making the Church More Accessible to Folks Under 35 | Forum for Theological Exploration Bin Laden’s Death | Forum for Theological Exploration Digital Mind and Divine Calling (Part 1 of 2) | Forum for Theological Exploration Digital Mind and Divine Calling (Part 2 of 2) | Forum for Theological Exploration Camping’s Family Radio’s website “proves” through some dizzying mathematics that Jesus will come to usher in the eschaton (the end of time).

Here are three reasons I gave why the world will (most likely) not end on May 21, 2011:

"> It’s the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine) | Forum for Theological Exploration Unbolting the Door: Musings of a Former Volunteer | Forum for Theological Exploration 2011 Leaders in the Academy Conference. After all, in the pursuit for excellence in scholarship in our fields of theological education, we are on a quest. This quest encompasses, as Dr. Emilie M. Townes proclaimed in celebration of the great legacy of Dr. Sharon Watson Fluker, great oeuvres along the way.

"> Colonizer or Co-learner? | Forum for Theological Exploration

On Saturday, June 4th, FTE doctoral and dissertation fellows attended the panel Scholarship in Dialogue with Diaspora: A Reflective Conversation. Drs. Diakite, Hucks, Braga, Hopkins, and Lartey reflected on experiences with African and African diasporic communities. Among others, the theme of identity played a critical role in the reflections. The thrust of these comments was that theological and religious discourse in both the church and academy must resist the tendency to define Christian identity in terms of a bipolar, exclusionary logic that consecrates a hierarchy in which the Christian is naturally superior to the heathen. As Christian pastors, preachers, and educators, we must begin to think about ways of conceiving our personal, congregational, and denominational identities in ways that admit the ambiguity of distinctive qualities between saved and sinner, church and world, “us” and “them.”

"> Beyond the Borders of Identity | Forum for Theological Exploration 2011 Leaders in Ministry Conference in New Orleans, LA

It seems like talk of “practices” is popular again. People and groups both inside and outside the church are re-discovering that our faith is not just about beliefs or intellectual affirmation but about a way of life, a way of living, that connects us to one another and to God. These are not in and of themselves “salvific.” In other words, practices for practices sake, for getting our own spiritual fix, are not transformative, are not converting. But if we engage them with…

"> Embodying the Practices | Forum for Theological Exploration FTE Leaders in Minstry Conference in New Orleans is so powerful that I feel compelled to try to put it into words. Why? I have experienced community, and it is good.

I don’t actually remember how I came across this fellowship. It may have been suggested to me by my pastor or possibly the seminary I will be attending. What I do know is that despite my research, I had no idea what to expect when I left for my trip to New Orleans. In my wildest imaginations, I would not have pictured what this conference has become for me.

"> Learning a New Normal | Forum for Theological Exploration 2011 Leaders in Ministry Conference in New Orleans, LA

Day 1: Getting off of the airplane and touching ground in New Orleans, I let go of my worries, frustrations, anxieties of home life and welcomed in the spirit of God to fill me with the comfort of simply being present, listening and conversing with others on their journey of faith as spiritual social change agents in a world of complacency and despair. I am honored to be in the company of such greatness of minds and comforted in the knowing there is hope for the Christian church and hope does not disappoint…

"> You have been invited, all are welcome . . . | Forum for Theological Exploration 2011 Leaders in Ministry Conference in New Orleans, LA

As we left the airport and boarded the bus to go from the airport to Dillard University where the conference is being hosted, I was assaulted with the heat and humidity of the Southern summer. Riding through the traffic on the freeway, I looked out the window wondering if I would catch glimpses of the damage and recovery from Hurricane Katrina. We exited the freeway and were stopped at a red light and I saw a person on the side of the road “panhandling.” He had written some illegible words on a sign he was holding that I couldn’t read. But I caught a glimpse of the back of the sign which used to hang at an apartment complex and read “The American Dream, for rent now!” I was struck by the completely contradictory message, this guy was definitely not experiencing the American Dream standing on that corner in the oppressive heat and humidity.

"> Hanging out in New Orleans with a bunch of aspiring pastors. . . | Forum for Theological Exploration conference in New Orleans this year. Two uncertainties already in my mind: what is a ministry conference like and how does New Orleans look after two Gulf Coast disasters? The shuttle from the airport to Dillard University was cold and full of chattering voices. I observed how we instinctually categorized each other: What kind of Fellow? What denomination? What seminary? The words felt empty when I said them. They did not actually say much about who I was. It was like placing everyone on a map and we’d only just met ten minutes ago.

"> A Taste for What we are Missing | Forum for Theological Exploration Lilly Residency Program at the First Presbyterian Church in Ann Arbor, MI I took a call as an Associate Pastor in a small city in Michigan. Knowing that the adjustment would not be an easy one, and reflecting on what I had learned from my time in the Lily program, I decided that the first thing I needed was colleagues who could also be friends. So, I went in search of colleagues in the hopes of also finding friends. Knowing I would have a colleague in my Head of Staff, in other clergy in town, and in my governing body, I wanted to seek out colleagues who were in a similar place in ministry—so I sought out young women clergy.

"> Women Clergy Need Girlfriends | Forum for Theological Exploration Academy of Preachers.

I am two days into a five-day camp, and my mind has been kneaded and sculpted so much in these short hours that I feel my brain must resemble a beloved can of Play-dough. The kneading is a result of love and affection, and it is with the endless possibility of my new intellectual “toys” that I have begun to discover something I can hardly believe I didn’t notice before.

There is no escaping tension.

"> The Tension of God’s Dance Floor | Forum for Theological Exploration Academy of Young Preachers, and the FTE staff did a great job of creating a space where learning and development could take place both as preachers and as the people who have been called to preach.

"> We are Not Walking Alone | Forum for Theological Exploration Beyond Religious Illiteracy | Forum for Theological Exploration If the Gospel Gathers… | Forum for Theological Exploration Finding Purpose in the Field | Forum for Theological Exploration blog. There is something about Christian language in the air!

The “age of the rage for literacy” has arrived at all levels of the Christian conversation. There is also a rush to “describe and denounce religious illiteracy,” but neither advocating for Christian literacy nor decrying illiteracy is very helpful if you can’t describe the next step, so that is what I intend to add to the conversation.

"> Becoming Playfully Orthodox To Speak “Christian” as a Second Language | Forum for Theological Exploration The Church: Accountable to the Transformation it Promises (1 of 2) | Forum for Theological Exploration The Church: Accountable to the Transformation it Promises (2 of 2) | Forum for Theological Exploration Fund for Theological Education (FTE), and he began telling us about the exciting work that FTE has done in developing what it calls VocationCARE.

"> Awakening Courage | Forum for Theological Exploration The “Snowflake” Church | Forum for Theological Exploration Calling Congregations Conference with a small team of my colleagues from Life Together, the Episcopal Service Corps young adult intern program in Boston. I experienced VocationCARE as a set of practices that intend to enliven individuals and communities, with the potential to deepen our relationship to God, to ourselves, to each other and our communities.

"> In the Body of Faith and Hope | Forum for Theological Exploration

Sacred Work

By: Patrick B. Reyes
February 03, 2016

... the sacred work of supporting courageous faithful theological educators and religious scholars is a life and death matter for me ...


One gray afternoon surrounded by rows of lettuce fields, I ventured onto one of the main streets in my neighborhood in Salinas, California. A car pulled up next to me on the curb. Slowly the rear passenger window rolled down. A young man showed his face. He pointed, what I would later call “God’s judgment,” a .45 in my direction and yelled “WHAT DO YOU CLAIM?” He wanted to know what gang I belonged to. The answer to that question was a matter of life and death. By the grace of God, another car came up from behind and the young man drove off.

A more regular occurrence than I care to remember, my small Latino/a community was plagued by violence. Friends and family members participated and suffered from it, and only a few courageous people addressed the conditions of our small community. Those that made the biggest impact on my life were theological educators. They lived in our neighborhood, prayed with us and served the community by teaching that answering “what do you claim?” was both deeply theological, and a matter of life and death.

In Revolution in Zion: Reshaping African American Ministry, 1960-1974, Rev. Dr. Charles Shelby Rooks documents the foundation of the Fund for Theological Education (FTE), now the Forum for Theological Exploration, naming the giants on whose shoulders we stand. He notes that luminaries such as Nathan M. Pusey and Benjamin E. Mays saw the connection (or disconnection) between the racial injustice and civil unrest occurring at the time, and the need for the academy to prepare theological educators to address those conditions. To demonstrate this disconnect, Dr. Rooks recalls an observation made by Henry Pitney Van Dusen about the dissertations in the 1968-69 academic year: “while the United States was turning upside down at that moment, not even one of the projected theses was concerned with the life and death issues of the time.”1

Dr. Rooks and FTE set out to transform, or to use his own language, revolutionize doctoral studies to produce African American scholars who would develop curriculum, produce knowledge, and embody epistemologies that address the conditions in the academy, in the church, and in society. It is from my own experience that I read into this history that these courageous leaders were also being asked, “what do you - Dr. Rooks, FTE, theological educators - claim?” Beginning with the Rockefeller Doctoral Program in 1959, FTE embodied a claim and performed the sacred work of identifying theological leaders who were responsive to the violence and conditions of the world. This is sacred work.

Fast forward to Dr. Sharon Watson Fluker and Matthew Wesley Williams’ leadership in FTE’s doctoral fellowships for student of color. One quickly sees that this sacred work continued. Identifying, supporting, retaining, and placing the next generation of scholars of color—the hallmark legacy of Dr. Fluker and Matthew which includes nearly 400 scholars—continues. It is the sacred work of the revolution that Dr. Rooks envisioned.

FTE’s distinguished alumni network is addressing the violence experienced by communities of color, and is adapting to the changing landscape of theological education. Stephen Ray recently staked his claim that “the hope for the future of theological education [is] in brown hands.” It is not in brown hands because there are more people of color in classrooms, though this is true in a lot of our institutions. It is in brown hands because there is an understanding that the answer to the question, “what do you claim?” is one that honors the sacred work of our elders, like Dr. Rooks, who believed that preparing theological educators is at its core a life and death matter. “What do you claim” is answered by carrying forward that revolutionary spirit to the next generation of scholars. They will not only shape theological education and the academy, but they will also be participating in the sacred work of our time.

If someone were to demand an answer to the question, “what do you (Patrick) claim?” I claim without hesitation that the sacred work of supporting courageous faithful theological educators and religious scholars is a life and death matter for me, for our distinguished alumni network, and for our departed elders who support our work in spirit. The stakes are no less high today than at its founding, and I intend to enter into this sacred work with the courage and support of all those who have worked for, with and through this organization before me. The sacred work continues…


1. Charles Shelby Rooks, Revolution in Zion: Reshaping African American Ministry, 1960-1974 (New York: Pilgrim Press, 1990), 118.

Tags: Inspired Leaders, Thinking Out Loud, Shaping the Future


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