RESEARCH STAFF

Charles Marsh, Project Director

Charles Marsh is professor of religious studies and director of the Project on Lived Theology at the University of Virginia. He is a graduate of Harvard Divinity School and the University of Virginia, where he earned his PhD in 1989.

Shortly after publishing Reclaiming Dietrich Bonhoeffer: The Promise of His Theology (Oxford, 1994), Marsh began considering the religious and moral paradoxes of his own southern Protestant upbringing. He was struck by the complex ways theological commitments and convictions came into dramatic conflict in the civil rights movement in the American South. The religious beliefs and social practices of ordinary people of faith illuminated a new way of writing theology for him, the first fruit being God’s Long Summer: Stories of Faith and Civil Rights (Princeton, 1997) which won the 1998 Grawemeyer Award in Religion.

His memoir, The Last Days: A Son’s Story of Sin and Segregation at the Dawn of a New South (Basic Books, 2001), is a coming of age account of a minister’s son in a small Mississippi town that was home to the Christian terrorist organization called the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.

His 2005 book, The Beloved Community: How Faith Shapes Social Justice, from the Civil Rights Movement to Today (Basic Books), developed a new interpretation of the Civil Rights Movement based on Martin Luther King Jr.’s remark that “the end [of the movement] is not the protest, the end is not the boycott; the end is redemption, reconciliation and the creation of beloved community.”

In 2007, Marsh wrote a theological analysis of the Christian Right’s support of the presidency of George W. Bush entitled Wayward Christian Soldiers: Freeing the Gospel from Political Captivity (Oxford, June 2007), which was excerpted in the New York Times, the International Herald Tribune and the Boston Globe.

Marsh is delighted to have co-authored a book with his lifelong friend, the civil rights activist John M. Perkins. Welcoming Justice: God’s Movement Toward Beloved Community was published by InterVarsity Press in Fall 2009 and is based on lectures delivered during the Teaching Communities Conference at the Duke Divinity School Center for Reconciliation.

Marsh, a 2009 John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship in the Creative Arts, served as the Ellen Maria Gorrissen Fellow at the American Academy of Berlin in spring 2010. His most recent book, Strange Glory: A Life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Knopf, 2014), received the 2015 Christianity Today Book Award in History/Biography.

Jessica Seibert, Project Manager

Jessica Seibert

Jessica graduated from Colorado College with a bachelor’s degree in anthropology. Before joining the project team, she worked extensively in grant management at the University of Colorado. She and her husband, a basketball coach, have two daughters and many animals. They all live together in a cooperative household with extended family, and Jessica is the house chef for ten people. While cooking occupies much of her free time, she also enjoys gardening, reading and sports.

Lauren F. Winner, Editorial and Literary Advisor

lauren winner web

Lauren, who has served as vicar at Saint Joseph’s Episcopal Church in Durham, N.C., since July 2021, provides editorial guidance for the Project on Lived Theology. When she’s not at “St Joe’s,” you can find her in the classroom at Duke Divinity School, where she is associate professor of Christian spirituality, or at her desk, where she might be reading or writing about overlooked biblical images of God or the history of Christian prayer. Lauren’s books include Girl Meets God (Algonquin Books, 2002), Mudhouse Sabbath (Paraclete Press, 2007), A Cheerful and Comfortable Faith (Yale, 2010), Still (HarperOne, 2013), Wearing God (HarperOne, 2016), and The Dangers of Christian Practice (Yale, 2018). She has written for the New York Times Book Review, the Washington Post Book WorldPublishers WeeklyBooks and Culture, and Christianity Today, and her essays have been included in several volumes of The Best Christian Writing.

RESEARCH FELLOWS

ABBY MATUSEK

Abby Matusek is a graduate student in the Department of Religious Studies at UVA. Her research in American history explores religious conviction on the nineteenth century frontier, particularly related to land conflicts and claims. Her scholarship aims to emphasize the neglected role of religion in American historiographical memory. Abby graduated from the College of William & Mary with a BA in history and religious studies.

EMILY MILLER

Emily Miller is a third year undergraduate at the University of Virginia, majoring in religious studies and minoring in data science. In Summer 2022, Emily was the Project on Lived Theology’s Summer Undergraduate Research Fellow, in which she worked with Guy Aiken to research and write about the histories of First Baptist Church on Main Street and First Baptist Church on Park Street in Charlottesville. Publishing bi-weekly articles on the PLT website, Emily’s research included conducting interviews throughout Charlottesville, visiting historical sites, and going through local archives. She also is a researcher for the Global Inquirer, a UVA student research podcast, and the UVA Sports Analytics and Statistics Lab. Her research interests include liberation theology, queer theology, and public history. 

GUY AIKEN

Guy Aiken was an assistant teaching professor at Villanova University from 2019 to 2021. Before that, he was a postdoctoral fellow in the humanities at Villanova from 2017 to 2019. Guy completed his PhD in religious studies at UVA in 2017, with a dissertation on American Quaker humanitarianism in Germany and Appalachia between the world wars. He recently published a monograph with Brill on Quaker mystic Thomas Kelly, and has published articles in The Tocqueville Review, Peace & Change, and Diplomatic History. He is currently finishing a commentary on Thoreau’s “Civil Disobedience” for a new social reading app called Threadable. Guy’s dissertation got him intensely interested in nonviolence, and he designed and taught a course at Villanova on American nonviolence and the civil rights movement. A graduate also of Queens University of Charlotte and UNC-Charlotte, Guy was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. He loves to act and sing, and he lives in Charlottesville with his wife, dog, and baby daughter.

MEGHAN TOPP GOODWIN

Meghan Topp Goodwin is a doctoral student in Religious Studies at UVA in Applied Theological Ethics. Her dissertation research examines antecedent beliefs and practices to prominent peacebuilding leadership by religious leaders, drawing upon novel interviews with religious leaders working in conflict prevention or reconciliation in their home nation-states. Meghan works in congressional relations in Washington, D.C., where she coordinates and implements advocacy activities for antipoverty and peacebuilding policies. 

LARYCIA HAWKINS

Larycia Hawkins is the Abd el-Kader Visiting Faculty Fellow at UVA’s Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture. At the Institute, she is working on the Race, Faith, and Culture Project, which examines how multiracial communities of faith could impact American race relations, and the Pluralism Project, which studies changing majorities and minorities. Larycia’s publications include “Prophetic and Priestly: The Politics of a Black Catholic Parish” (2015) and “Jesus and Justice: The Moral Framing of the Black Agenda” (2015). Her writing, speaking, teaching, and scholarship are squarely animated by a conviction that political science should be relevant to the real world.

ETHAN SHEARER

Ethan Shearer is a PhD student in UVA’s Department of Religious Studies, where his research interests include public and political theology, Wesleyan thought, and the work of Dorothee Soelle and P. T. Forsyth. He is interested in working on a dissertation about theologies of sanctification and human need. Prior to coming to UVA, Ethan earned MDiv and MTS degrees from Wesley Theological Seminary, and a BA in Sociology/Anthropology and Religious Studies from Elizabethtown College. He now serves as a United Methodist minister in Orange County, Va., after having pastored a church in rural Pennsylvania.

Peter Slade

Peter Slade teaches courses in the history of Christianity and Christian thought at Ashland University in Ohio. His research interests include religion and the long Civil Rights Movement, and ecclesial practices of reconciliation and resistance. Pete’s scholarship and teaching are grounded in his work and life in the church. His interest in the lived ecclesiologies of Christian communities led to his first book, Open Friendship in a Closed Society: Mission Mississippi and a Theology of Friendship (Oxford University Press, 2009), an interdisciplinary study of an ecumenical racial reconciliation initiative in Mississippi. Pete is co-editor of and contributor to two volumes connected with the Project on Lived Theology: Mobilizing for the Common Good: The Lived Theology of John M. Perkins (University Press of Mississippi, 2013) and Lived Theology in Method, Style, and Pedagogy (Oxford University Press, 2016). He contributed a chapter to the Project’s Can I Get a Witness? (Eerdmans, 2019), and is a co-editor and contributor to the companion volume People Get Ready (Eerdmans, forthcoming). Pete’s current research focuses on the teaching of race, memory, justice, and reconciliation in church-related colleges and universities in the United States.

HEATHER WARREN

Heather Warren is an associate professor in the religious studies department at UVA, where she specializes in the history of American religious life and thought from the late-nineteenth century to the present. Her research has also carried her into the field of American religious autobiography. Heather contributed a paper to the Lived Theology and Community Building Workgroup (meeting #3). She also gave a guest lecture, “Civil Rights and the Habit of Autobiographical Theological Reflection,” as part of the “Thursday Nights: Conversations in Lived Theology” series. Heather has served as a Summer Internship in Lived Theology mentor. As a PLT research fellow, she is studying U.S. southern ministers and the Protestant Hour radio show.

 

 


 

STAFF ALUMNI