Matthew Wesley Williams

Recent Entries


What is Changing?

“We live in a time of rapid change.” If I had a quarter for every time I’ve said or heard this about the state of theological education I would have enough money to pay off my student loans. Change seems to be the watchword of the day.

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October 25, 2016


It Takes a Village

Yesterday FTE announced the appointment of Dr. Patrick Reyes to the position, Director of Strategic Partnerships for Doctoral Initiatives. He carries forward this sacred work, and its legacy within theological education to a new moment both rife with possibilities and fraught with increasingly complex challenges.

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February 02, 2016


Why We Do This

Every now and then it is important to remember why we do what we do. On October 1, we launched the 2015 FTE Doctoral Fellowships. This is an appropriate moment to reflect briefly on why we do the work of supporting rising theological educators of color.

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October 15, 2014


When Lions Have Historians

History, James Loewen observes, is the only subject that professors assume students know less of the further they advance in school. Historians know that part of their job is to help students unlearn the fairy tales most of them have absorbed as history.

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February 03, 2014



The Future of the Doctoral Programs

Recently we announced that FTE is putting a hold on fellowship programs to undergo a strategic assessment and planning process for the future of the organization. Thus, the doctoral programs will not accept new applications for fellowships during the 2012-2013 academic year. This is a bold and unprecedented move for FTE. These programs have been a vital source of support for underrepresented communities in the academy. There is much at stake in this decision for people of color. We don’t take this lightly.

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November 15, 2012


Freedom to Flunk

I started in the preaching ministry at the age of 15. Fifteen is a strange age. At least it was for me. I was just old enough to have my own ideas about this and that. And I was just young enough to be very certain about my ideas. But I was also just “green” enough to believe that what I had to say might be useful to God in a preaching moment. I preached my first sermon on a chilly spring day in April 1992 in Chicago, IL. This was the pulpit in which a master preacher got up each Sunday to “break the bread of life.” However on this Sunday, this people and this preacher let the young people “run the service.” And they let me preach the morning message….

That church was a grace-filled space in which I had the freedom to flunk. With that freedom I was provided the space to identify, explore, and reflect on my sense of call to ministry…

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January 07, 2011


Single-Leader-Centered vs Group-Centered Leadership

Consider these two statements on leadership:

“Strong people don’t need strong leaders.”

“Leadership never ascends from the pew to the pulpit. It always descends from the pulpit to the pew.”

The first quote is a famous line from Ms. Ella Baker, whose masterful work in organizing and leadership development helped to launch and stabilize the early work of many of the most significant civil rights organizations of the 20th century: NAACP, SCLC, SNCC and MFDP. The second quote is a lesser known line from a better known figure: the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. ...

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July 20, 2010