FTE Blog


Introducing the Leaders for Tomorrow’s Institutions

In 1968, Executive Director of the Fund for Theological Education (FTE), C. Shelby Rooks looked at the landscape of theological education. There were only 18 African American Ph.D. students in religion in the US and only 40 African American professors held Ph.D.s in the field. Building on the legacy of the Rockefeller Brothers Doctoral Fellowship, FTE began awarding the Special Opportunity for Doctoral Study of Religion for African Americans. In 1976, while looking at similar data for the Latinx community, FTE begins offering the Special Opportunity for Doctoral Study of Religion for Hispanic Americans

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By: Patrick B. Reyes April 20, 2017


Excellence in Our Fields: The System of Theological Education

What is excellence in theological education? During FTE’s annual Mentoring Consortium, a gathering of organizations who support scholars of color, we asked this very question.

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By: Patrick B. Reyes April 06, 2017


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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By: Matthew Wesley Williams October 25, 2016


Survival in the Lily Fields: FTE Doctoral Fellowships

A flower farmer went out to his lily fields to see how they were growing. He looked over his acreage and saw the lilies swaying in the wind. He thought to himself, “What a beautiful field of lilies.” He saw out in the corner of his fields a small rose rising just above the rest of the lilies. He marched over to pull the colorful rose from the ground.

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By: Patrick B. Reyes October 04, 2016


Classroom Violence

On the heels of a tragically bloody week (#AltonSterling #PhilandoCastile #Dallas), I sit down to share the second installment of my thoughts on diversity in the classroom. It doesn’t take the events of last week to make it difficult for me to write on the topic because even on ordinary days (if those actually exist) whatever I feel led to say smacks of being trite.

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By: Grace Vargas July 15, 2016


Our Students Will Lead Us

At a recent FTE Community Forum in Chicago, I was struck with the observation made by a presenter that our next generation of pastors are now in prison. I was reminded of a related thought expressed last year at a gathering in Ferguson, MO on the anniversary of Michael Brown’s death—that the leaders of church, whatever it will become in the future, are in the streets today fighting for justice.

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By: Stephen Ray June 07, 2016


Diversity in the Classroom: Beyond Resounding Gongs and Clanging Cymbals

You could call me the poster child for diversity. Now attending the third higher education institution of my academic career, many of you reading this will understand that I mean that both figuratively and literally.

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By: Grace Vargas March 10, 2016


God, thank you for making me BLACK! Black History Month Musings

The origins of Black History Month trace back to Harvard-trained historian Carter G. Woodson and Howard-bred minister Jesse E. Moorland’s “Negro History Week,” which was first marked by the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASALH) in 1926 as an effort to organize events and learning activities to honor the rich and vibrant legacy of achievements of peoples of African descent.

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By: Melanie C. Jones February 26, 2016


Trusting Brown Hands

Conversations about theological education and diversity generally focus on opening our doors to diverse populations—here read people of various shades of brown, while generally understanding ourselves as playing hosts while maintaining a vibrant sense of our own “traditions” and ecclesial “affiliations”—here read white.

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By: Stephen Ray December 09, 2015


A call to ‘Opt-in’

Growing up in my Latino/a church1 I would often hear, “ese sabe mucha teología pero poca biblia” (“he knows a lot of theology but little about the Bible”). This backhanded comment simultaneously challenged the theologically trained on their true knowledge of God and uplifted theologians trained through informal means, namely the Bible and lo cotidiano2.

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By: Grace Vargas October 21, 2015


Theological Education, Diversity, and a Transformative Future

In July, I made a brief case for placing questions of difference and diversity at the center of theological education. In my mind, the case is getting stronger by the day not because of the article’s persuasive powers (!) but because God is moving in our midst.

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By: Eric D. Barreto October 08, 2015


The Sublime Power of Belief

At particular historical moments events overwhelm our usual use of words and categories. Such was the martyrdom of the Saints at Mother Emmanuel on June 19th, 2015.

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By: Stephen Ray July 28, 2015


Theological Education After Ferguson and Long Island and Baltimore and Charleston and….

If theological education could previously assume a future apart from the questions of difference and diversity, this last year shattered such delusions. Ferguson. Long Island. Baltimore. Charleston.

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By: Eric D. Barreto July 17, 2015


Vocation in Between the Aftermath of Violence and a Hoped-for Future

What future does God envision for us? What future do we long to see? What are we willing to do to give shape to it? These questions, written by FTE President Stephen Lewis, are ringing in my ears as I follow on-the-ground reports of what’s happening in Baltimore ...

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By: Dori Baker May 01, 2015


Whose Name is on the Invitation?

It is not uncommon for institutions in the Church and in the part of the academy engaged in Christian academy education to approach diversity through the idea of inclusion.

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By: Stephen Ray March 19, 2015


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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By: Matthew Wesley Williams October 15, 2014


Can We Keep Our Promises?

“I’m thinking about quitting the MDiv.” The voice on the phone was my former student and intern here at Marsh Chapel with the support of FTE’s Pastoral Internships.

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By: Br.  A. Whitney LC Lawrence August 20, 2014


Lead Differently

“Here’s to the crazy ones…The ones who see things differently…People who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.” Seventeen years ago these provocative words captured the attention of the public and persuaded many to think different about Apple.

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By: Stephen Lewis July 14, 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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By: Matthew Wesley Williams February 03, 2014


Leadership: A Two-Way Street

In many ecclesial communities the concern for developing young leaders emerges primarily out of institutional anxiety about survival. The weakness in asking and answering questions about young leaders from such a perspective is that it leaves out the most important person in the conversation: the young person! When we think this way, we forget that young folks are constitutive members of our communities right this very moment.

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By: Alan Combs July 03, 2013

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