Between Fearless Dialogues and the Search for Common Ground

“… sustainable change? This project constructs a template for collaborative exchange that will aid religious leaders and the communities they serve. ”

Team Members/Contributors

Gregory C. Ellison Emory University, Candler School of Theology Contact Me

About this sabbatical grant for researchers

This project constructs a template for collaborative exchange by examining the life and work of seven 20th and 21st century faith leaders who defy the reductionist categories of scholar, activist, and minister by equally valuing the epistemic quality of theory, community engagement, and faith-full practice. This grant will support the research for two contracted book projects.

The first project, Fearless Dialogues: The Civil Rights Movement of the 21st Century, draws upon formative thinkers who circumnavigate six crippling fears that stifle communal conversation and change. Barbara Brown Taylor's sacramental vision addresses the fear of the unknown. Henri Nouwen's radical hospitality is explored as a response to the fear of strangers. Parker Palmer's educational philosophy and Quaker theology counter the fear of appearing ignorant. The strength-based orientations of Jean Vanier's L'Arche Communities and Myles Horton's Highlander Folk School foil the fear of plopping. An historical analysis of Howard Thurman's Church for the Fellowship of All People serves as an exemplar of how people of faith banded together can frustrate the fear of big problems. I finally examine how James Lawson trained young people in the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) to derail fear-mongering systemic oppression. These theoretical sources are integrated with first-hand accounts from community conversations.

Anchored in the Current: The Eternal Wisdom of Howard Thurman examines how the wisdom of Howard Thurman still grounds prophetic thinkers, anchors faith leaders, and buoys change agents. This edited volume is divided into four sections: vocation and discernment, education and mysticism, worship and community building, and prophetic service and global change. Twelve racially and ecumenically diverse, faith leaders will gather for a consultation to discuss their chapter and how Thurman informs their scholarship, enriches their faith, and guides their service.