Remembering Vinegar Hill

Vinegar Hill HouseOn March 7, 2003, The Project on Lived Theology held the fifth session of The City and Congregation Workgroup, part of an ongoing effort to build a theological narrative of the city of Charlottesville. The theme for the day was, “Theology and History: Remembering Redemptively,” and speakers included local pastor and civil rights activist, Dr. R. A. Johnson, as well as workgroup member, now Board of Regents Chair in Ethics and Assistant Professor of Religion at Wartburg College, Jennifer McBride. The afternoon session, lead by Renae Shackelford and Robert Saunders, focused on the challenging history and legacy of the city’s razing of the Vinegar Hill district, an African-American neighborhood and economic center, under the auspices of urban renewal in the 1960s. Their talk, entitled, “Urban Renewal and the End of Black Culture in Charlottesville, Virginia,” was followed by a public meeting at Trinity Episcopal Church that drew almost 200 community members.

The forced displacement of the Vinegar Hill community and the subsequent breaking of cultural, social, and familial ties, along with the destruction of African-American businesses and economic life, with little to no black involvement or representation, continues to call the city of Charlottesville to prophetically remember this troubling past in order to be ever aware of the dangers of re-living the legacy of this act in the present day. This week, we are featuring the talk from this public meeting, “Remembering Vinegar Hill and its Troubling Legacy”; one of the many interesting and challenging pieces that can be found throughout our new website and in our archive.

See the public talks from Shackelford and Saunders:

More information on the other sessions of this workgroup can be found here.

SILT 2013 convenes next week as participants work on the book project, “Lived Theology: Style, Method, and Pedagogy”

Spring Institute for Lived Theology 2013: After Ten Years

SILT_ArtPoster pic

May 22-24
Charlottesville, Virginia

In celebration of a decade of work by hundreds of scholars and activists, SILT 2013 will assemble some of the Project’s alumni as well as a few additional scholars whose work relates to the Project’s aims. We are delighted to announce that Willie Jennings, Traci West, and Ted Smith will offer keynotes during the institute, as well as contribute chapters to the book project, Lived Theology: Style, Method, and Pedagogy.


Please click here to read UVA Today’s press release “U.Va. Project on Lived Theology To Host Annual Spring Conference May 22-24” by H. Brevy Cannon.

Public Keynote Address Schedule:

WJennings talk  TWest pic  TSmith pic

2013 Spring Institute for Lived Theology speakers:

Willie JenningsRev. Dr. Willie James Jennings is associate professor of theology and black church studies at Duke Divinity School. His research interests include these areas as well as liberation theologies, cultural identities, and anthropology. He is the author of numerous articles and the book, The Christian Imagination: Theology and the Origins of RaceDr. Jennings is a native of Grand Rapids, Michigan. An ordained Baptist minister, Professor Jennings has served as interim pastor of several North Carolina churches and continues to be an active teaching and preaching minister in the local church.

Ted SmithDr. Ted A. Smith is assistant professor of teaching and ethics at Candler School of Theology. He is the author of The New Measures:  A Theological History of Democratic Practice (2007).  He works at the intersections of practical and political theology, with special attention to the forms preaching and worship take in modern societies.  Smith’s current research explores the notion of “divine violence” through a study of sermons, speeches, and essays about the abolitionist John Brown.

Traci WestRev. Dr. Traci C. West is professor of ethics and African American studies at Drew University Theological School (Madison, NJ). She is the author of Disruptive Christian Ethics: When Racism and Women’s Lives Matter (Westminster John Knox Press, 2006), Wounds of the Spirit: Black Women, Violence, and Resistance Ethics (New York University Press, 1999), and the editor of Our Family Values: Same-sex Marriage and Religion (Praeger, 2006). She has also written several articles on violence against women, racism, clergy ethics, sexuality and other justice issues in church and society.

Rev. Dr. West is an ordained elder in the New York Annual Conference of the United Methodist church who previously served in campus and parish ministry in the Hartford Connecticut area. She is a member of United Methodists of Color for a Fully Inclusive Church, participated in an interfaith clergy delegation to Baghdad Iraq, and interviewed in the documentary on violence against black women “NO!” and “Breaking Silences: A Supplemental Video to No!” by Aishah Simmons.

SILT 2010 organizer, Sarah Azaransky, publishes Religion and Politics in America’s Borderlands with Lexington Books

Sarah AzaranskyReligion and Politics in America’s Borderlands, edited by the Project on Lived Theology’s own Sarah Azaransky has gone to press with Lexington Books.  Out of the lectures and essays presented at SILT 2010 in San Diego, California, this work brings together leading academic specialists on immigration and the borderlands, as well as nationally recognized grassroots activists, who reflect on their varied experiences of living, working, and teaching on the US-Mexico border and in the borderlands. These authors demonstrate the groundbreaking claim that the borderlands are not only a location to think about religiously, but they’re also a place that reshapes religious thinking. In this pioneering book, scholars and activists engage with Scripture, theology, history, church practices, and personal experiences to offer in-depth analyses of how the borderlands confront conventional interpretations of Christianity.

Contributions by Orlando Espín; Carmen M. Nanko-Fernández; M. Daniel Carroll R.; Daisy L. Machado; Pedro Rios; Monica A. Maher; Craig Wong; John Fanestil and Ángel F. Méndez Montoya

The Spring Institute for Lived Theology is an annual institute for theologians, scholars, and practitioners focused on issues of faith and social practice.

Carlene Bauer, acclaimed novelist, to give writing workshop at U.Va. in June

carlene baurAs part of the 2013 Virginia Seminar, Carlene Bauer will offer a writing workshop that is open to the public. Her most recent work, Frances and Bernard, is a narrative through letters exchanged between two writers on the rise who meet in an artists’ colony in 1957. Her characters are inspired by the lives of Flannery O’Connor and Robert Lowell. Read the New York Times review of her work here.

The writing workshop will be held on June 20th from 1:30-3:00pm in the lounge of St. Paul’s Memorial Church. For more information email

The Virginia Seminar in Lived Theology is a theological initiative that offers theologians and scholars of religion an opportunity to work and write in sustained engagement with critical issues in religion and public life; and it further provides practitioners the time to think and write in sustained and direct engagement with theologians and scholars.