Mobilized for the Common Good: The Lived Theology of John M. Perkins

Mobilized for the Common GoodWe are pleased to announce the forthcoming publication of Mobilized for the Common Good: The Lived Theology of John M. Perkins, edited by Peter Slade, Charles Marsh, and Peter Goodwin Heltzel and published by University Press of Mississippi.

Mobilized for the Common Good is based on papers and exchanges of the 2009 Spring Institute for Lived Theology, “American Evangelicalism and the Practices of Peace: The Lived Theology of John M. Perkins.” With contributions from theologians, historians, and activists, this book seeks to understand John M. Perkins’s life and work in its theological and historical context. It contends that Perkins ushered in a paradigm shift in twentieth-century evangelical theology that continues to influence a growing movement of Christian community development projects and social justice activists today.

The impetus for this project came from the desire to explore further the contributions of John Perkins, who has received surprisingly little attention from historians of modern American religious history and from theologians concerned with questions of race, justice, and reconciliation. The book project grew from the rich interdisciplinary conversations that took place at SILT 2009 as participants considered the significance of Perkins’s life and work. We are delighted to work with the scholars, theologians, and ministers who have made contributions toward this important undertaking, including those listed here:

  • Mae Cannon, Executive Pastor of Hillside Covenant Church, Walnut Creek, California
  • Noel Castellanos, Executive Director, Christian Community Development Association
  • Lisa Sharon Harper, Executive Director, New York Faith and Justice
  • Paul Louis Metzger, Director of the Institute for the Theology of Culture: New Wine, New Wineskins and Professor of Christian Theology and Theology of Culture, Multnomah School of the Bible
  • A. G. Miller, Professor of Religion, Oberlin College
  • Lowell Noble, Emeritus Professor of Sociology and Anthropology, Spring Arbor University
  • Ted Ownby, Director of the Center for Southern Culture and Professor of History and Southern Studies, University of Mississippi
  • Soong-Chan Rah, Milton B. Engebretson Assistant Professor of Church Growth and Evangelism, North Park Theological Seminary
  • Chris Rice, Co-Director, Duke Divinity School Center for Reconciliation
  • Cheryl J. Sanders, Senior Pastor of the Third Street Church of God in Washington, D.C., and Professor of Christian Ethics at the Howard University School of Divinity
  • Ron Sider, President, Evangelicals for Social Action, Director of the Sider Center on Ministry & Public Policy and Professor of Theology, Holistic Ministry, and Public Policy at Palmer Theological Seminary
  • Christian T. Collins Winn, Assistant Professor of Historical and Systematic Theology, Bethel University

Project alum Willis Jenkins to join U.Va. faculty this fall

Willis JenkinsWillis Jenkins, currently an associate professor at Yale Divinity School, will join the U.Va. faculty this fall as associate professor of religious studies and a fellow in the Institute of the Humanities and Global Cultures. Dr. Jenkins will teach in “Religion, Ethics, and the Environment,” an area that connects many programs: Religious Studies, Environmental Sciences, Politics, the Bioethics Program in Philosophy, the Environmental Law Program in the Law School, and the Department of Public Health Sciences in the School of Medicine. His position is part of the Mellon Foundation funding for a university-wide initiative in environmental humanities. Dr. Jenkins received his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Virginia and has been involved with the Project on Lived Theology since he was a graduate student.

Remembering George Telford

George TelfordA year ago, February 28, 2012, the Reverend George B. Telford Jr. passed away surrounded by loved ones in Charlottesville. Many know George from his decades of leadership in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and in ecumenical circles, as well as his work with the Lilly initiative on Reformed Theology at Union Theological Seminary. He also became a kind of senior statesmen at the Project, gently and clearly reminding us in story and argument that the robust Protestantism of an earlier era in the North American Church has much to teach the post-liberal theological academy. I am deeply grateful for George’s courageous life, his indefatigable commitment to human flourishing and his Christian witness. He told us at a PLT conference that his greatest concern as a theologian-pastor “was how to build and sustain a blessed community of the people of God that may live with courage, and wisdom, and passion.” We miss George very much.

Please click this link for a transcript of his 2003 theological autobiography, presented at the PLT Congregation and City Group.

Here are sections from his obituary which appeared in the “Daily Progress” last year.

“George [Telford] was a pastor-theologian shaped by the lives, faithfulness and passion of four fine congregations. His primary conviction was that it was possible to build theologically strong, liturgically vibrant, socially sensitive congregations of God’s people, marked by a sense of community with one another in faithfulness and fidelity.

“He believed that the formation of mature and faithful congregations required lay theologians who were able to articulate Christian faith competently, persuasively and with a measure of passion in the varied context of contemporary life. He was convinced that the training of the laity to enable the churches to be communities of theological discourse, courage and compassion rested on the presence among them of pastors committed to be, as pastors, theologians-in-residence, disciplined in mind and heart for that task. All of his work in national church leadership has been shaped by these commitments.

“George was born in Charleston, West Virginia on November 30, 1933, the son of George B. and Cecelia Rupel Telford. He attended Presbyterian College, received his Masters of Divinity degree from Columbia Theological Seminary, and continued his studies at the Harvard University School of Arts and Sciences as a Woodrow Wilson Fellow. He did further graduate studies at the University of Geneva in association with the World Council of Churches. George began his ministry as Assistant Minister and Minister to Students at First Presbyterian Church of Auburn, Alabama.

“He served as pastor of four strong congregations alongside public universities: Westminster Presbyterian Church of Charlottesville, First Presbyterian Church of Tallahassee, Florida, First Presbyterian Church of Auburn, Alabama, and Blacksburg Presbyterian Church of Blacksburg, Virginia. In 1973, George became Director of the Division of Corporate and Social Mission of the Presbyterian Church U.S.

“He returned to national church leadership in 1987 as Director of the Theology and Worship Ministry Unit of the reunited Presbyterian Church (U.S.A). During this time George was a member of the Council on Theology and Culture, the General Assembly Task Force on a Theological Understanding of the Relationship Between Christians and Jews, Special General Assembly Council Task Force on the Spiritual Welfare of the Church, General Assembly Special Committee on the Consultation on Church Union. . . . He served on the Committee of Visitors for Vanderbilt Divinity School. He was the Presbyterian Church’s delegate to the Fifth World Conference on Faith and Order and to the Consultation on Church Union. . . . He was a member of the Presbyterian delegation in dialogue with the Episcopal Church on the matter of Reconciliation of Ministries and one of the regional leaders of the Presbyterian seminaries Advocate for Ministry program sponsored by the Lilly FoundationEndowment.

“He served as past chair and member of the Committee on Ecumenical Relations of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A) and served most recently as a member of the Project on Lived Theology, University of Virginia. Prior to retirement, George served as Director of Advanced Studies and Associate Professor of Theology at Columbia Theological Seminary.

“After retiring in Charlottesville, he served as Director of the Institute for Reformed Theology at Union Theological Seminary and PSCE, Richmond, Virginia, and was instrumental in organizing, in Charlottesville, Clergy and Laity for Justice and Peace. He continued to serve on the Committee on Ecumenical Relations and the Presbyterian Episcopal Dialogue of the Presbyterian Church (USA) until his death. George served as Vice-President for Church and Society of the National Council of Churches when that body formed a panel to consult with religious and political leaders across the region, in Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Jordan, Israel, and the Occupied Territories making a major contribution to the final policy statement of the National Council of Churches on the Middle East. He traveled extensively consulting with Arab, Jew and Christian leadership in the region.

“His life continues to be celebrated by his wife of 57 years, Sally, two sons and their families, John and Marguerite Telford and their daughters Katherine and Elizabeth of Leesburg, Virginia and George Telford III and Christine Marx and their daughters Rebecca and Emily Telford-Marx of Durham, North Carolina. “

Thursday Nights: Conversations in Lived Theology resume

The Project on Lived Theology is hosting Thursday Nights: Conversations in Lived Theology once a month this spring semester. Our first conversation was held Thursday, February 28 at 7:00 p.m. in the St. Paul’s Memorial Church lounge. Kris Norris and Sam Speers discussed their research with us in a talk entitled, “The Politics of Church: Examining the Ways Churches Engage and Avoid Politics.” Watch this space for further information about Kris and Sam’s work.

The remainder of the spring series includes a talk by liberation theologian Allan Boesak, cosponsored with the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, on March 21 at 5:00 p.m. in Minor Hall, room 125.

Finally, U.Va. religious studies professor Heather Warren will speak on her experience of school desegregation in a talk entitled, “Civil Rights and the Habit of Autobiographical Theological Reflection” on April 18 at 7:00 p.m. in the St. Paul’s Memorial Church lounge.

For more information, and to see the full spring schedule, visit the Thursday Nights webpage here.

Civil Rights Digital Archive launches for public use

The Civil Rights Movement as Theological Drama, an initiative of the Project on Lived Theology, is a highly interactive digital archive that brings the theological drama of the American Civil Rights Movement to life. Through personal interviews and primary documentary evidence, much of which is previously unpublished, the archive tells the stories of the time period in light of the hypothesis that God was–in some perplexingly and hitherto undelineated way–present there.

Read the full press release here.

Visit the archive here.

Read an interview with Graduate Research Assistant Kelly West Figueroa-Ray, who both conceptualized and managed this project.