On Saturday, October 7, the Episcopal Divinity School offered an all-day online seminar titled “James Cone in a Global Context”. The seminar invited participants to grapple with the global realities of racism and white supremacy as framed by Cone and to critically reflect upon the theological significance of Black theology in various contexts.
The seminar was led by EDS Interim President Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas and welcomed Dr. Anthony Reddie, Dr. David Clough, Dr. Dulcie Dixon McKenzie, Dr. Anderson Jeremiah, and Rt. Rev. Rose Hudson-Wilkin as featured guests. Each of their sessions provided a unique perspective on James Cone’s theological paradigm and the state of Black theology today.
A conversation with Drs. Anthony Reddie, Dulcie Dixon McKenzie, and David Clough illuminated the profound impact of James Cone in South Africa and the United Kingdom. “The heart of our theologies—and I want to go back to Cone as being the perfect exemplar of this—is about who is the Jesus that we are following? Who is the Jesus that we are worshiping?” said Dr. Reddie. “If Jesus is a cis male who only saves people who look like him, and only saves people who sign up for a set of doctrinal positions, then Christianity will always be exclusive, and we’ve seen that in the enactment of empire.”
Dr. Anderson Jeremiah gave riveting insight into the influence of James Cone in India, particularly in Dalit theology that comes from India’s lowest caste members. “The first and most important lesson I picked up [from James Cone] is the ability to create a dialogue between what you read and your lived experience,” he shared. “For me, that’s fundamental to doing theology itself.”
Bishop Rose Hudson-Wilkin spoke to the racism she has faced as a Black and Caribbean woman throughout her ordained ministry in the U.K.. She gave a powerful call to pursue freedom, citing the hope that we can find in the Gospel and in theologians like James Cone. “I believe that faith ought to be in the public square,” shared Bishop Hudson-Wilkin. “I see, in my reading of scripture, that we have a God who is interested in human life…I see a God who is full of compassion, a God who is full of love.”
Students affirmed the seminar as an important and energizing experience for them. “As an Afro-Caribbean-American woman priest (now retired), thanks be to God for the opportunity to be in the nearness of the presence of these grace-filled Womanist theologians,” shared the Rev. Canon Gloria E. Payne-Carter. “[It] gives me the push needed to continue on in the struggle and to strive to be valid in expressing the Image.” Professor Lee G. Farrow echoed these sentiments: “I’m taking away a newfound commitment to the ongoing pursuit of freedom.”
To learn more about upcoming programming with the Episcopal Divinity School, please visit: https://www.eds.edu/programs