Lutheran Volunteer Corps, one of my mentors asked me why I had chosen a faith-based organization focusing on social justice, rather than a secular organization. This question caught me completely off guard—I had never considered that my passion for social justice could come from anything but my faith. So many of the Scripture passages that speak to me most deeply are those that call for an end to oppression and injustice, that call for us to care for those who are in need, for those who are rejected and for those who are forgotten. From Jesus to Martin Luther King, Jr. my models of social justice are strongly tied to faith.

"> Social Justice as an Extension of Faith | Forum for Theological Exploration Introducing the Leaders for Tomorrow’s Institutions | Forum for Theological Exploration A Lesson on Leadership | Forum for Theological Exploration When in Doubt, Do ... | Forum for Theological Exploration “We’ve a Story to Tell to the Nations …” | Forum for Theological Exploration What is our next most faithful step? | Forum for Theological Exploration What is Changing? | Forum for Theological Exploration Survival in the Lily Fields: FTE Doctoral Fellowships | Forum for Theological Exploration Faith & Politics: Conversations Leading to Action | Forum for Theological Exploration 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.

"> Classroom Violence | Forum for Theological Exploration The Pulse of Justice – The Passion of Jesus | Forum for Theological Exploration Leading Differently When Different is Dangerous | Forum for Theological Exploration Where Were You on Bloody Sunday? | Forum for Theological Exploration Our Students Will Lead Us | Forum for Theological Exploration Pentecost: A Time for Change | Forum for Theological Exploration Can the Church Help End Violence & Injustice in Our Communities? Seven Themes We Heard in Chicago. | Forum for Theological Exploration “Go, set the world on fire!” But don’t burn it down. | Forum for Theological Exploration Shake, Rattle, and Roll: Culture, Queerness, and Faith | Forum for Theological Exploration Behind the Doctorate | Forum for Theological Exploration Refreshed Through Discernement | Forum for Theological Exploration Creating Space for Imagination | Forum for Theological Exploration Leading Differently by Listening to Whispers, Shouts and Echoes | Forum for Theological Exploration God, thank you for making me BLACK! Black History Month Musings | Forum for Theological Exploration Same Ole Gospel | Forum for Theological Exploration terrorist shooting in San Bernadino, CA.

"> Leading with Love in the Wake of Islamophobia | Forum for Theological Exploration Set the Prisoners Free | Forum for Theological Exploration Sacred Work | Forum for Theological Exploration It Takes a Village | Forum for Theological Exploration What’s Your New Year’s Resolution? | Forum for Theological Exploration The Hope of Now | Forum for Theological Exploration Trusting Brown Hands | Forum for Theological Exploration God Beyond Borders | Forum for Theological Exploration More Questions Than Answers | Forum for Theological Exploration Reflections on three years with CMTEV | Forum for Theological Exploration A call to ‘Opt-in’ | Forum for Theological Exploration Theological Education, Diversity, and a Transformative Future | Forum for Theological Exploration Benefits of a Vocational Friendship | Forum for Theological Exploration FTE’s Ministry Exploration and Mentoring Grant; The grant was such a tremendous blessing as it enabled me to develop relationships with women that have utilized their experience and/or understanding of grief in their respective ministries.

"> Affirmations of Calling | Forum for Theological Exploration Ferguson & Faith: Sparking Leadership and Awakening Community, Dr. Leah Gunning Francis discusses the significance of her work for faith communities and emerging Christian leaders.

"> Seven Questions with Leah Gunning Francis, Author of “Ferguson & Faith” | Forum for Theological Exploration A Reflection on My Ministry Exploration and Mentoring Grant Experience | Forum for Theological Exploration The Sublime Power of Belief | Forum for Theological Exploration Theological Education After Ferguson and Long Island and Baltimore and Charleston and…. | Forum for Theological Exploration The Ministry of Surrender | Forum for Theological Exploration The Stillness | Forum for Theological Exploration Racism: The Most Sinful of Legacies | Forum for Theological Exploration What Is Thy Name | Forum for Theological Exploration Active Faith is Urgent | Forum for Theological Exploration The Birth of Goodness | Forum for Theological Exploration Re-Arranged by the Spirit | Forum for Theological Exploration Vocation in Between the Aftermath of Violence and a Hoped-for Future | Forum for Theological Exploration To Follow a Call | Forum for Theological Exploration Where Two or Three Are Gathered | Forum for Theological Exploration Tooth Fairy | Forum for Theological Exploration Marking Vocational Transitions Faithfully | Forum for Theological Exploration 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 Sacred Cows at the Lord’s Table | Forum for Theological Exploration I am a Pile of Trash | Forum for Theological Exploration The Church Knows Something | 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 If it was a Snake ... | Forum for Theological Exploration The Power to Reshape Brokenness | Forum for Theological Exploration Campus Ministries that Stick | Forum for Theological Exploration How to Harness the Awkward Pause | Forum for Theological Exploration 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.

"> Why We Do This | 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 An Opportunity to Re-Engage not Remake the Church | 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 An Open Reflection to My Younger Self | 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 Listen Closely | Forum for Theological Exploration Communication as an Art | Forum for Theological Exploration Celebrating a Birthday or Celebrating the Birth of an Idea | Forum for Theological Exploration Shhhhhhhh! | Forum for Theological Exploration Do We Know Enough About Other Religions? | Forum for Theological Exploration My Time At the FTE Vocational Discernment Conference | Forum for Theological Exploration Is the Institutional Church Worth Saving? | Forum for Theological Exploration A Muddy Epiphany | Forum for Theological Exploration

Rest for the Journey Ahead

By: Jasmin Figueroa
June 22, 2017

I watched in awe as other leaders shared their joy and relief that they were “not alone,” undoubtedly encouraged, as I was, by one another.

Eleven days after my seminary graduation, I boarded a plane to Atlanta for the Forum for Theological Exploration’s 2017 Christian Leadership Forum. While I was already excited to join my cohort and meet scholars whose work I admire, I walked away from the Forum feeling thankful for an additional gift: FTE’s hospitality that demonstrated that I was welcomed, honored and affirmed as a member of this community of Christian leaders.

To be clear: by “hospitality,” I am not talking about material comforts (as grateful as I was for our accommodations). In my eyes, the most meaningful indicator of FTE’s hospitality was its intentionally curated spaces for us to just…be. In the weeks prior to the forum, Dr. Patrick Reyes, the director of strategic partnerships for doctoral initiatives, cited theologian Rubem Alves when communicating his hope that we would “…take time to care for [ourselves],” in the days prior to the Forum, “so that we can be fully together.” He knew that in our respective roles, we faced heavy responsibilities and constant pressures to perform, so we rarely received opportunities to rest. Patrick’s permission to do so was the first of many liberative moments that I experienced at the forum.

Other invitations followed. We were invited to to “take off [our] shoes,” and acknowledge that the spaces that we occupied, our theological wrestling and our discussion topics were holy; and we were invited to meet other scholars, ministers, discerners and non-profit leaders from around the world.

I noticed right away that the majority were people who had experienced marginalization in some way, but we were not disparaged in this space.

Instead, our God-given authority and prophetic gifts were recognized and lifted up, and for the first time in a long time, I felt rejuvenated and confident in my call. At the end of my experience, I watched in awe as other leaders shared their joy and relief that they were “not alone,” undoubtedly encouraged, as I was, by one another.

The Academy and the Church can be painful, isolating spaces, but coming to the Forum was a balm for my weary soul. As an un-ordained, feminist, millennial Latina from the Bronx, I have grown tired from navigating spaces that struggle to live into their self-professed call to cultivate hospitality for people like at the margins, so it was was healing for me to spend four days in a space that acknowledged my pain, affirmed me in my particularity, and offered respite, wisdom and hope for the journey ahead. Since the Forum, I feel encouraged to move forward in my call as a pastor and practical theologian, and empowered to create similar places where people who have experienced marginalization can find rest for their own journeys. Because of the respite that I experienced with FTE, I am reminded that I am not alone cherishing these spaces and valuing hospitality—and that I have a multitude of partners who are doing their own version of in this work in the world.

Tags: Inspired Leaders, Thinking Out Loud


Blog comments powered by Disqus