Race, Church and Theological Practices

“…of the church contribute to and reinforce the exclusionary power of race in U.S. Society? What are appropriate and faithful responses to this problem? ”

Team Members/Contributors

Denise E. Thorpe Saint Ambrose Episcopal Church Contact Me
J. Kameron Carter Duke University Contact Me
Donyelle Charlotte McCray Virginia Theological Seminary Contact Me
Mark Ramsey (CIT) Westlake Hills Presbyterian Church Contact Me
Jemonde Taylor Saint Ambrose Episcopal Church Contact Me

About this collaborative inquiry team

This project brings together scholars and pastors to explore various ways that well-intentioned theological practices contribute to or re-instantiate the exclusionary power of race in U.S. society and to ponder appropriate and faithful responses to this problem. Academic research is increasingly exploring how theology has worked as a scaffold undergirding modern notions of race; this research is showing how racialization functions as a kind of (problematic) discipleship. What is missing, we believe, is a forum that focuses on church practices themselves, and how they might be re-envisioned given the historic and ongoing entanglements of those practices with racial formation.

This project will be just such a forum. Though one person is applying for this grant on behalf of all of us, the project itself is collaborative from beginning to end. Our core group is composed of both scholars and pastors; three of us were formed in black church traditions and two in white protestant contexts. The project reflects the research agendas of the scholars in the group as well as the practical, daily challenges faced by clergy. Because we wish to ground the project in the experience of the church in the world, the project will be administered by a church community. One other point needs to be made: we realize that constructs of race are much broader than black and white, but in the first phase for which we now seek grant support we are focusing on the traditions of African American and white church communities.

There are three goals for this phase of the project: 1) Explore literature and ideas about race, culture, and practice; 2) Engage in robust conversation about how these ideas do or do not manifest in the tangible experience of daily Christian life and practice and why; 3) Imagine tangible, material responses to the discoveries we make and begin the process of implementing some of those responses. In subsequent phases of the project we envision a broadened conversation and additional forms of response involving churches, academic institutions, and the wider public.