“This project explores possibilities for practical theology through the lens of self identified queer, black, and/or feminist pastoral practitioners in urban ministry contexts. ”
First and foremost, my project explores my own experience as a self-identified queer black feminist who pastors. For 3 years, I have served as pastor of New Day Church, a small church plant in the Northwest Bronx. I was brought on because of my personal & political identities and my experience as a community organizer. In just a few months I was forced to lead my church through a global pandemic horribly managed by the federal government. I led my church through another prolonged period of police killings of black, brown, and trans people. I pastored through a time when many organizations were exploring the implications of years-long and deeply rooted anti-blackness, and simultaneously asking deep questions around community accountability away from carcerality with catered attention to the material, economic conditions of black, brown, queer, and trans people. In my time as pastor, my small Bronx church started a mutual aid fund, developed a more robust youth ministry, and started a Transformative Justice ministry. I looked to the streets and the political movements for direction. I listened to single black mothers in their struggles to raise healthy, spiritually aware and racially conscious children. I saw the gifts of our community: social justice practitioners in my congregation and community skilled at restorative & transformative practices. I also looked to queer clergy, clergy who identified as feminist, and clergy committed to black liberation for other powerful models of what church could be in a global pandemic. What is the theological basis that grounds these more diverse leaders and their leadership styles? How are churches and oppressed communities transformed from these robust theologies, methodologies, and practices? Through focus groups with pastors and their parishioners and public programs, this project looks to identify data that might support churches in North America as they explore their capacity and effectiveness for transformative ministry.