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.

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Rev. Dr. Katie Geneva Cannon - In Her Own Words

By: Matthew Wesley Williams
August 17, 2018

The loss of a life well lived can give rise to good grief. Over the past week, while pained and saddened by the passing of Rev. Dr. Katie Geneva Cannon, the FTE community has paused to reflect with deep gratitude on the tremendous legacy she leaves. In both seemingly small gestures and grand strides Dr. Cannon’s teaching, mentoring, and ministry helped us remember how to be human, how to be the family of God. Sometimes good grief sends us into the picture albums, shoeboxes, and scrapbooks that enable us to tell ourselves the story of the love that will endure beyond the grave.

At FTE, we went digging into our archives of the countless contributions Dr. Cannon made to the next generation of scholars in the academy, church and community. While digging, we recovered this transcribed interview from 2009. There can be no better witness to her liberating legacy than her own words. In this slightly edited interview, she tells the story of her own journey in the ministry of teaching. May her voice continue to offer us the solace and sustenance in her passing that it did in her presence.

Full audio version of her interview

A Lifelong Love of Teaching


I was interviewed several years – in 2005, when I was last on sabbatical – about teaching as a vocation, and I remember saying, “I been playing school since I was three. I started school at three.” I thought everybody played school, and it was only when the interviewer said to me that was how unusual that was. What happened, I grew up in Kannapolis, North Carolina, was what used to be the largest unincorporated town in the United States of America, 40,000 people, and the town was owned by Mr. Charles A. Cannon. It was a modern-day plantation, and sociologists would come from all over the United States and all the parts of the world to understand what a textile town looked like.I was born in 1950, which meant that segregation was the order of the day, and so the Mount Calvary Lutheran Church created a kindergarten for all the black children in the Kannapolis area. So from the time I was three, I was in the kindergarten class, and I loved school. School was really my first love. I mean I played school all the time, and I gave homework all the time, and I was always the teacher. So before we could play cowboy and Indians, hopscotch, skip rope, Little Sally Walker, we had to have school, and everybody just – all my cousins, my sisters and brothers, they just gave in to say, “Let Kate have her school.”

It wouldn’t last that long, ‘cause when you’re three or four, your attention span is not that long, but they had to set everybody up, and everybody had to recite.

So my being a teacher has been a love, and it’s in the marrow of my bones.

School has always been a place where I was affirmed, where I excelled. Well, in a segregated society, you only had home, church, and school. So home was all with kinfolk. Church was all kinfolk, and school was where the world was larger than kinfolk. It was other people’s kinfolk.

So I just always loved teaching, loved school, being in school, and loved learning. I’m fascinated. I have no shame or qualm when people say, “I know this is a dumb question.” That has never come across my mind to say a question is dumb. If you have that kinda intellectual curiosity, go for it. My grandmother, who was born in 1882, lived with us, and was really instrumental and formative in who I am. Encouraging me to inquire. Encouraging me to think, and she would say, “Be in the ring. If they’re making a circle, just get in it.” And then say, “Now, what are we doing?”

That’s what a lotta people, when they understand I’ve been the first this or that, it’s like, “You must really like it.” I say, “No, my grandmother just – she grew me that way.” That helps me balance out the introvert/extrovert. I mean I had to learn to be an extrovert, ‘cause I’d rather be reading.

Well, when I finished high school in 1967, it was the last year of the desegregated schools in North Carolina, in my area of North Carolina. So I went to a Presbyterian college, a little black mission school that was started in 1867 called Barber-Scotia College, and I didn’t wanna go there. I wanted to go to one of our large state – HBCU, Historically Black Colleges and Universities. My mother said I’d either go to Barber-Scotia or work in the mill the rest of my life, and I knew I couldn’t work in Cannon Mill the rest of my life, so I went to Barber-Scotia. It was the best thing that could have happened, because they taught us. They said, “We are diamonds in the rough.” My whole class – well, almost everybody at Scotia was first generation college.

So our parents had taken us far as they could. Our teachers had taken us in the public schools far as they could, and now the college professors would train us to what they call “walk with the peasants and ride with the kings.” So they put as much emphasis on the book learning as they did culture and decorum.

My mother wanted me to be a teacher. Everybody who had been in my family who’d gone to college had been teachers, and I was determined not to be a teacher. Now, I’ve just said I love teaching, and I love school. So every semester I was in college, I changed my major. So by my junior year, you had to declare, and the only way I wouldn’t lose credits was to major in elementary education. So I majored in elementary education so I could graduate on time. So I was already trained as a teacher. Loved teaching, but I didn’t want my mother to win. That adolescent rebellion, differentiating between daughter and mother kinda thing. She was right, and the older I get, the more she is right, but I didn’t wanna acknowledge it when I was 20, 21.

Black Power, Atlanta and Theological Education


Here I was. This was 1970, and it was the Congress of African People. It was Nation Time, Black Nationalism. The moment, on April 4th, 1968, when King was assassinated, I changed from being a Negro to black. I wore my blackstrap – I wore my strap-up sandals, my Black Power fist, my dashikis, and I started wearing my hair in an Afro. My mother said I was ultra-black. There were no black people before me nor after me, because if anybody slipped and said colored or Negro, I was on my soapbox. “That’s not who we are. We are black people. It’s Nation Time. We’re not gonna be colonized.” I was reading everything I could by Dubois, Carter G. Woodson, E. Franklin Frasier, everything. Just swooooop it up.

So here I was having been brought up in the church all my life, and now being told in my reading and in the political movement I was involved with that Christianity was the opiate of the people. It was a slave religion, and so I went to seminary, not as a born- again, God struck me dead kind of person. I went as agnostic.

So when I walked into the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, I went to find out if this is a slave religion, I wanted to be in the vanguard telling people, “We gotta get this out. Our liberation, our freedom is worth more than being numbed out by this religion that’s keeping us from being free.”

Within the first week of being in seminary, I was onboard as a liberationist. It was the best time, in 1971, to be in Atlanta. One-third of the men in my class had just come back the Vietnam War. The other third of men in my class were in seminary to keep from going to the Vietnam War, and then the last third was there because they’d been told since they were three or four years old they were gonna be preachers. So here were these young women, 20, 21, about six or seven of us who arrived in Atlanta, and they just assumed we were there to get husbands. It’s like, “You’re not here to really study theology.” And we’re like, “Yes.” And they didn’t realize, in 1971, the two people you didn’t wanna marry were clergy and police officers.

It’s like why would you think anybody wanted to marry a preacher? And they – we revolutionaries. We getting ready to declare war on the United States of America. We gonna get our freedom. We gonna finish out the Emancipation Proclamation. So it was just a wonderful time, because the veterans from the war and the people who didn’t wanna go to war, and all of us right there, and James Cone’s book, Black Theology and Black Power, was out. The Bible and the Bullet by Malcolm X, Black Preaching, I mean it was just an incredible time.

The hermeneutical principle we used in our three years at ITC was that when we read Barth and Tillich, and Schleiermacher was always, “How is this relevant to the black church?” So we could plow through these dead white men and their texts, because we had a question, “How is this relevant to the black church community? If it’s relevant, make a case. If it’s not relevant, make a case.” So we mastered that stuff, but we mastered it with a purpose, and so we would go up for four and five hours at a time theologizing, tearing apart – what do you mean by the grasp by an ultimate concern? What is your ultimate? What is a penultimate? I mean we’d just go back and forth, mastering the language, mastering the concepts. If it’s not relevant, make a case. If it’s relevant, make a case. It was a joy. I mean it was an intellectual high from ‘71 to ‘74.

The call for me was to get the word out that Christianity is not a slave religion, but Christianity is a liberating religion. It was just ... a particular cohort group, I thought needed that information. Those of us who were just a little young to be civil rights freedom riders, but old enough to understand what the march of Washington in ‘63 meant.

That was the group I was gonna say, “No, we don’t have to give up Christianity.

What we need to be free is right here in this religion. It just hasn’t been unleashed, and that’s our job as liberating liberation theologians- to get the good news of the Gospel – to set the captives free.”

That’s what we’re here to do.

But being in seminary and getting that message and then being a woman, they didn’t know what to do with us. The men in my classes were going to churches on weekends, preaching and teaching. They had field education. They didn’t really know what to do with women. So my job in field education was to tutor. I tutored in Old Testament and New Testament and preaching, but that sense of being in the pulpit and that pulpit mannerism and that comfort you get was not something I got until after I was ordained, and it’s still not my first option. I’m much more comfortable in the classroom.

Ordination and Freedom of Being


The interesting thing is that when I got ordained, I got ordained, my call, because no church would take me. What do you do with a black woman who can read Hebrew and Greek, who has aced the courses, and who’s theologically trained?

People knew black women who were evangelists, who condemned everything that was fun and good and joyous in life, but they didn’t know, well, what do you with a black woman who’s 24, who goes clubbing, who wears nail polish, who wears pants, who’s theologically educated?

So it wasn’t like people were hostile. I was more like a ET, an extra-terrestrial being. It was like, “well, she’s curious. It’s intriguing, but, okay.”

So then people say, “Well, do black Presbyterian women wear pants?” It’s like, yes. “Do they wear nail polish?” Yes. “Do they dance?” Yes. “Do they tell jokes?” Yes. So that was a freedom of being – I set the model. It’s like whatever I do, that’s what black Presbyterian clergy women do.

The downside was the loneliness of it, because it was who do you talk to? Yeah, I mean who’s walking this walk with you? So I had a lotta friends that were United Methodists, ‘cause they had been ordaining women longer who were black, and that basically – ‘cause the Baptists weren’t doing that much. So it was really that you had black Methodist clergy women who I just hung around with more, because their numbers were larger than our numbers.

When it was time for me to get ordained, I passed the ordination exams. I passed all my courses. Dr. James Carson and Raymond Worsley took me before the presbytery, and they had to make a case, because a call in the Presbyterian church is not a fire that’s shut up in your bones, but much more “what’s your job.” Because the Presbyterians believe in a teaching ministry, that teaching is ministry, they went to the floor of the presbytery. They made the case, quoted Scripture, made the case, and they said I was called to get a Ph.D. They didn’t really have anywhere to put me.

I’d gotten accepted to Union, New York, because Union, New York, at that point, had made a commitment. Their board of trustees says one-third of the student body will be women, and one-third of student body will be black. So as a black woman, I was a two- thirder. So I applied, and I got in. So that’s no longer a valid call in the Presbyterian church, but in 1974, that’s the grounds on which I got ordained.

The other thing that’s interesting about my ordination is that the Catawba presbytery was a all-black presbytery and an all-black synod in the Charlotte area. The synod went all the way from Southern Virginia to Northern South Carolina and across the state of North Carolina. They were having presbytery meeting on April 23rd, 1974. They stopped the meeting, made the case for Lonnie Oliver and I to get ordained. They laid hands, did the ordination questions, finished that part and went back to business.

The black people at the national office in New York were livid. Here is this historical moment, the first black woman to be ordained in the United Presbyterian Church, and you people down there just took it just for granted. People now said, “Well, who preached your ordination? What music did you select?” It’s like, “What?” “At your ordination service, was it quite moving? What it was like?” I was grateful that my parents were both elders. They laid hands on me. My Sunday School teachers were all my aunts and uncles and stuff. They were there, but it wasn’t the kind – now that I’ve been to ordination services, I understand it. “Oh, that’s what normally happens.” So after 25 years of being ordained, the black caucus at the national meeting had an incredible celebration, and that’s when I felt like I had that kinda celebrative ordination.

The Gift of the ITC and Black Theological Education


So when I got to New York to begin my Ph.D., because I was still new. Teaching was my ministry. I wanted to get a Ph.D. so that I could teach, to go back to ITC and teach Hebrew Bible, ‘cause that was my love. That was my passion. When I got to New York, I went to the white women’s caucus, and I didn’t understand anything they were saying. Then I went to the black caucus with men and women, and the black men, for the first time. Now I’d been the only black woman in my preaching class, and then men had been very supportive, because I was scared to even preach after a whole semester of preparing sermons.

The second semester was delivering sermons, and when it was time to deliver, I just couldn’t do it, because I knew the black church was the only institution of the people, by the people, and for the people where black men could be men. The one institution in our culture where black men were not emasculated. So if I was a black woman preaching, was I not in collusion with the oppressor? Was I not castrating black men? Was I not on the side of the enemy?

I said, “I can’t do this.” So I went to Dr. Tom Pugh, our pastoral counselor at ITC, and I said, “Dr. Pugh, I can’t – I mean I know I’m called, but I can’t get up in the pulpit and preach.” And being in solidarity, in the name of liberation, he said, “Why don’t you ask the men how they feel?” And I’ll always be grateful to those men. We were like buddies in a war, anyway. I went back, and I said, “How do y’all feel about me preaching?” I’d been tutoring them how to put the sermon together, but I just didn’t think I could stand in the pulpit. They said, “The harvest is plentiful. The labors are few. Who are we to say who God can call and not call to ministry?”

Then that whole socialization as being women, that we had to be perfect and above sin and all that, and I was like, “I’m a party animal. I mean I’m 24. Why would I not –” I mean we – it’s a part of my group of friends at ITC, we had to go to the underground Atlanta and stay there until it closed. I was on mission. We had to be at the mineshaft and the underground – what was it? – down the hatch, the jazz club and the mineshaft. We had to be – when they closed, that’s when we came back to campus.

So now, all of a sudden, I’m supposed to stand in the pulpit as a sinless person. I thought about that, and I said, “They preach every Sunday, and I know all their sins, ‘cause they tell me. Oh, yeah, I can do this.” Then I realized God calls sinners. I mean you start thinking about all the people, all the clay feet that people have in Scripture. It’s like, okay, it’s not about being perfect. It’s about being human. So those two things had set me free.

Now, here I get to New York, and the black men of a different class, a different ilk. They’re very bourgeois. They’d been to the best private schools in this country. They’d been avidly trained, and all of a sudden, they say, “We want you to justify how in the hell you think God could call a woman to ministry.” I had just left hundreds of black men who supported me, encouraged me, even to tease and harassment, they still were my buddies. We’d been in the foxhole together.

Now I’m in a different class, ‘cause, see, the men who were at ITC with me, we were all first generation college-educated. So for us to get Master’s, our families were tickled purple. I mean they were just like – at our graduation, our parents came from everywhere. Out of the woodwork, kinfolk, to have somebody in the family with a Master’s degree. Lemme back up a minute.

When I went to ITC, I went to get a Master’s in Christian Education. Even as an agnostic, ‘cause I majored in elementary ed, and before we signed what we were gonna declare during that week of orientation, I said to Dr. Carson, “I wanna –” He said, “I want you to sign up for the Master’s of Divinity.” I said, “Oh, no, I don’t wanna be a minister. I wanna Master’s in Christian Education.” And he said, “A Master’s in Christian Education.” I said, “Yes, sir.” He said, “The only thing you can do with a Master’s in Christian Education is work at the Y.”

I said, “Work at the Y.” He said, “Yes.” I said, “They don’t allow black people to go to the Y.” He said, “That’s right.” I said, “...a Master’s, and I can’t even go in the building?” He said, “That’s right.” I said, “Well, sign me up for the M.Div. then.” That’s how it happened. I didn’t have a clue what a M.Div. meant, but I knew my aunt, who was a retired teacher, worked at the Y in Charlotte as a receptionist. But in Kannapolis, there was a Y, but black people weren’t allowed to go. So it was like I’m a – and, once again, Master’s being the be all, end all, I mean to, first of all, to be of the generation to first to get a Bachelor’s Degree, and now we’re the generation to get a Master’s. We’ve mastered something and not be able to go in the building. That’s how I went for the M.Div.

My first semester at ITC, ‘71-‘72, January ‘72, is when I was – went for my first Rockefeller interview. Shelby Rooks, James Cone, and Dr. Benjamin E. Mays, and I was 22-years-old. I had just turned 22, and I didn’t really know what it all meant, but I’d filled out all the forms and everything and went to the hotel for the interview, and it was going well. Then Shelby Rooks asked the question, “... What are you gonna bring that’s different than what men bring to ministry? Are you gonna be more just, more honest, more courageous, more intelligent? Just what do women bring? What will you bring as a woman in ministry?”

And I said, “Women’s intuition.” And he said, “What’s that?” I was totally clueless. I will always be grateful Dr. Benjamin Elijah Mays, he said, “Shelby, you’re married. You know what that is.” It’s like, “Wheeewww, wheeewww, thank you, Dr. Mays.” And from that point on, I was a recipient of Rockefeller, then the Benjamin E. Mays, and then the Ph.D.

Soul Care and Anti-Intellectualism


To me, the Fund for Theological Education is the corrective for 85 percent black clergy have no formal theological education. The Fund for Theological Education corrects that deficiency. It is the opportunity to move from jackleg-ism to professionalism, to move from being a quack to being a serious surgeon of the soul. It is the opportunity not to tamper with people, ultimate concerns, but really come with the best and the brightest and the most gift – with our gifts and graces to bring healing and wholeness, and so that people can have life and life more abundantly.

So that’s what The Fund is about. We have, in the black church community, what has been called anti-intellectualism, but what James Cone calls anti-theological mindset. But I – as I – when I talk with young people, I try to help them understand this anti-intellectualism didn’t come from anywhere. It was the abuse and the assault and the trauma that a few black educated people heaped on the black church community. That little saying, “A little learning is a dangerous thing?” In the black schools, they taught you there’s a difference between an educated person and an educated fool.

An educated person, you share your knowledge, and you empower people with your knowledge. An educated fool has a little learning, and they beat people up with it.

So part of the anti-intellectualism, it doesn’t come from a place that black people don’t wanna learn. It’s that they’ve been hurt by people who had just a little bitta knowledge and put ‘em down and trampled on them and dismissed them and mocked and abused them. So it’s like we don’t anybody with education. We want somebody who’s called by God, ‘cause then they won’t destroy us. What we’ve been able to do, what I’ve been trying to do for the past 40 years, and my group of people who receive the Fund for Theological Education fellowships, is to bring that kind of care and charisma and compassion and understanding to the black church. Saying, “Yeah, one can be called by God and still, because God called us, we wanna have the best preparation so that we don’t hurt another soul, including ourselves.”

So people are open to that, between those of us who are educated and not educated fools. Now, they can read an educated fool a mile away. So if we coming to strut our stuff and to impress them, they don’t need that, but they want us to come and to share the gifts that we have been given and give ‘em to them in a way that they can handle it. So I never dumb down what I do, ‘cause that’s offensive, and that’s an insult to them. But my job is to master techniques and strategies and processes so that my father who never learned to read nor write can comprehend everything I say and do.

Bridging the Generational Divide


I think that, for me, it’s – for me to tell my story and to hear their story, I don’t know what it’s like to be born digital, and so sometimes when I’m talking with a group that’s coming along now, I mean as I approach my 60th birthday, sometimes I feel like I’m 120, as opposed to just 60, because what they’re up against is not what I was up against. So all I have to do is tell ‘em what I was up against, and they have to do the translation. I don’t understand when they’re texting and tweaking and twisting and all day long. I mean that, to me, is anti-intellectual. That, to me, is like why are you not reading? Why are you not figuring out stuff and create – cultivating your critical thinking skills?

Well, they may be doing that on these electronic gadgets, but I don’t know how to – I don’t know what it means. So I’m open to hearing those conversations. So when I talk about Jim and Jane Crowism, they gotta tell me what they’re up against, ‘cause it doesn’t look what I went through. The sexism they’re up against, it’s not – it doesn’t come in the form it came for me. So they’ve gotta hear how I dealt with it, and then I’m open. We gotta have just as much time to hear what they’re dealing with.

There’s a concept now called post-soul. Post-civil rights. Post-black. Post- – it’s like what do you mean? So I’ve been trying to read what do black digitally-born young men and women think about “post”. Well, they take what I’ve shared with you, and they call that slavery days. When I read that, it’s like my experience is considered slavery? And they— it’s irrelevant to them. So there’s a divide that we’ve gotta bridge, because when I laid out with my graduate students this spring, the paradigm of what made segregation as airtight an apartheid system that has ever existed in the world, one of my 31-year-olds said, “Nothing has changed.”

I went like, “Wow.” And he started translating in 2009 what I thought ended in 1969, but I didn’t know, because they don’t tell me their experience. I don’t have a clue that it’s still going on in a different manifestation than something that registers for me.

On Diversity and the Work of Theology


Well, see, I think that even with the digital divide, even with being born digital, the core message is the same. I think that even though I went to a black church conference summit at Emory in January, and nobody could be on this particular panel that I attended who was over 30, and when they started talking about the black church, it was a black church I didn’t even know. I mean have you seen this movie called Pimp My Ride? Well, they have what they call “Pimp My Church.” That means that you’ve gotta have the right sound system and all the whistles and bells, and you gotta have the right lights and the right – I mean things moving, and I mean all kinds of gizmos and gadgets and stuff.

But the core message doesn’t change. Meaning the analogy that comes to my mind is biology. Even though we have reproductive technology, we can do – we can clone people, but you still need a head, and you need shoulders. You need skeleton system, a digestive system, a circulatory system. So that’s the theology. That’s what doesn’t change. Now, the outside of the body may be able to change, and you may able to do all kinds of things to prolong life and cure diseases, but the core body of work is still the human body.

Well, that’s the analogy I make with theology. They still gotta know theology, church history, mission, Christian education, ethics, preaching. They gotta know the subject matters that make up theology, and then they can tamper and tinker with it. But if they try to do all the frills and the whistles and bells, there’s no substance there. So that’s what’s got to stay. The substance of the theological discourse. It’s not monolithic. It’s not universal in the sense of one person has a monopoly or one group of fingers has a – but just learning the data. It’s essential to having a future as theological educators.

I think it would be like taking out the heart or the brain out of the body. That’s how essential having thinkers across disciplines is. That’s what it means to me, and to have a variety of thinkers. Now that we’re looking at the Supreme Court judge, woman who’s been nominated and how it just burns me up that they’re taking a statement saying that’s a racist statement for her to say, “White men can’t think for Hispanic women or Latino women.” Well, they can’t! And I heard someone on NPR about Judge Roberts always thinks like a white man, and nobody judges him for being – thinking like a white man. They say, “He thinks universal. He thinks objectively.”

The reason we need a variety of theological educators and a variety of thinkers from various backgrounds because it represents God’s creation.

White men do not – white Anglo-Saxon Protestant men - do not have a monopoly on intellect. The way they do it is not the way we all should do it. When I first started doing my work in Christian ethics, just like when I first started ministry, the white men weren’t hostile. It was just I was an ET. Another place where I was an extra-terrestrial being, right? Because they were saying – I said, “If you’re born black, female, and poor in the United States, you don’t have the same range of freedom and choices as a white Anglo-Saxon man of privilege.”

They said, “That’s not true.” I said, “What do you mean it’s not true?” They said, “We all have the same range of freedom of choices and options.” I said, “That’s not true.” I said, “What do you mean it’s not true?” They said, “Where is it written?” Because they were all so used to talking to people who were just like them. So here I come on the scene saying, “Being black, female, and poor, I don’t have the same range of freedom and choice you do.” So I wrote it, and that was my dissertation, and they started using it in their classes, because until somebody shifts the paradigm, it does feel universal.

When the white feminist liberation theologians and ethicists start saying you gotta name your particularity. You gotta name your specificity, and they were like, “That’s sociologists. That’s not theology, ‘cause when we speak, we speak to the universal language. We’re disembodied.” The white feminists said, “No, you gotta be embodied, mediated, and all…all of what you brought here makes you who you are.” And they were going like, “Well, you’re dumbing down the Academy.” Because they didn’t wanna be bodies. They wanted to be talking heads.

So what the variety of bringing – or what Fund for Theological Education enables is the richness of God’s creation to come to the table, and it makes us all better…when I understand what Japanese people who were interned, and their descendants were dealing with, and when they had a conversation with me as a person who is from freed people – my grandfather was the only free child in his family. All of his sisters and brothers were slaves. People said, “Oh, no, it was more removed than that.”

No, he was born August 21st, 1865, and the only reason he was born free was ‘cause the Emancipation Proclamation had been signed. His mother was a slave. My mother knows her grandmother who was a slave woman. So it’s not that far removed. So when we bring our Native American sisters and brothers from the reservations, and they talk about what it’s like – the Bureau of Indian Affairs and that kinda thing – it’s just, to me, it is the Commonwealth of God. It is what we’re struggling for. Justice and humanity, well-being of us all.

My students would be the best witness, and they’ve taught – when they loop back to me what it is for me to be a co-learner with them, we say things like “it’s not remedial if you never had it.” They don’t know my reality. I don’t know theirs. We can’t be in the same classroom!

There’s a part in the Scripture that says, “How can the people know if there’s no preacher, and how can the preacher preach if the preacher hasn’t been sent?” And I say that as a teacher.

How can the people know if there’s no teacher, and how can the teacher teach if the teacher hasn’t been sent?

The only way we’re gonna be in a world as diverse as our world is, and live in harmony and with justice, is we gotta have the variety. We’ve gotta have people trained to walk the walk and talk the talk at the highest levels.

That’s why we need the Fund for Theological Education. That’s why we need the best and the brightest minds of all races, all creeds and colors to be able to carry forth the civilization, especially in religious studies. One of my greatest concerns is how those of us in religious studies, we learn everybody else’s discourse, but for some reason, they think we’re a glorified Sunday School, but the more we have people coming through FTE who can stand toe-to-toe with the biochemists, the electrical engineers, the brain surgeons, then we bring a theological, religious discussion to their work that they desperately need.

Tags: Inside FTE, Thinking Out Loud


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