Women of Color Scholars celebrate 25 years

640_WOC25YR_Article_img1(GBHEM) By Susan Naslund

Less than 60 years ago clergywomen received full rights in The United Methodist Church. While women now fill more seats than men in United Methodist seminaries, the number of women of color in those chairs is still small.

The lack of women of color faculty at United Methodist seminaries and theological schools is even more apparent. “There were no women of color professors in my seminary education,” said Dr. Rosetta Ross, professor of Religion at Spelman College and chair of the Women of Color Mentoring Committee.

Sixty-five gathered in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the United Methodist Women of Color Scholars scholarship and mentoring program, the only denominationally sponsored program of its kind, November 21, 2014, in San Diego, California. Attendees included former graduates, mentors and current scholars of the program along with presidents, academic deans and other administrators from seminaries and schools of theology.

At the banquet, five current scholarship recipients expressed gratitude for not only the financial aid they have received, but also for the mentorship that has meant so much to them. “Time with my mentor is precious because it is hard to conceptualize the history of the struggle, vision and hope [for women of color scholars] that has gone on for so long. I can’t go it alone,” said Amy R. Barbour, scholar at Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary.

“The mentorship is a safe holding environment for me,” added June Hee Yoon, scholar at Drew University, The Theological School.

The General Board of Higher Education and Ministry created the Woman of Color Scholars program in 1989 to address the absence of women of color faculty in theological education in the United States by providing scholarships and mentoring to women pursuing higher theological education. There are now 39 graduate scholars who teach in seminaries and theological schools in the U.S., Africa, Korea and Vietnam.

Also recognized at the banquet was Angella Current-Felder, former executive director of GBHEM’s Office of Loans and Scholarships who was instrumental in creating and facilitating the Women of Color Scholars program. “Making a space for the voices of women of color has always been an important issue for me,” said Current-Felder.

The GBHEM Office of Loans and Scholarships continues to administer and facilitate this program through the application, awarding, and mentoring process. Current executive director, Allyson Collinsworth said, “We continue to see some of the brightest scholars in the denomination take part of the program and thrive from the collective support from the church, mentors, and each other that makes them aware they are not alone in their journey. The Women of Color Scholars Program is invested in these women’s successful futures in the academy on behalf of The United Methodist Church.”

Papers were prepared and presented in a panel format at the reception addressing the significance of contributions by women of color scholars to the academy and religious communities. Panel moderator Bishop Grant Hagiya, resident bishop of the Greater Northwest Area, said, “The 39 graduates are making a systemic difference in theological education as well as in the church,” and agreed that the mentor program is the key to the success of the graduates.

“The goal is to have one Woman of Color Scholar at each of our 13 seminaries, but we are not quite there yet,” Hagiya said.

Drs. Dianne Stewart, Namsoon Kang, and Cristian De La Rosa wrote the papers. Following the readings, respondent Dr. Eboni Marshall Turman remarked upon the issues presented in the work.

To give to the Women of Color Scholars Endowment fund, visit www.gbhem.org/wocdonate, or mail a gift to GBHEM Office of Loans and Scholarships, Women of Color Scholars Fund, P.O. Box 340007, Nashville, TN 37203-0007. Financial assistance will help award, mentor and support more United Methodist Women of Color Scholars.

Naslund is staff reporter, Office of Communications, California-Pacific Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church

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21 Comments on "Women of Color Scholars celebrate 25 years"

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The United Methodist Reporter wants to encourage lively conversation about The United Methodist Church and our articles in the belief that Christian conversation (what Wesley would call conferencing) is a means of grace. While we support passionate debate, we cannot allow language that demeans or demonizes others, and we reserve the right to delete any comment we believe to be harmful or inappropriate. We encourage all to remember that we are all broken and in need of Christ's grace, and that we all see through the glass darkly until that time we when reach full perfection in love. May your speech here be tempered with love, and reflection of the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. After all, "There is no law against things like this." (Galatians 5:22-23)
 
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james
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Kevin: Thanks for your post. Progressive liberals look at the whole world through a tunnel. Of course they would say that those who disagree with them do the same. The libs/progs believe that anything that may even hint at conservatism is bad. The libs/progs believe that because one espouses a conservative–perhaps even middle of the road–view of things, they are ANTI everything–no matter what–because that is the way THEY are. So I suppose that means that “anything” white is automatically a bad thing, that anyone viewing Scripture as inerrant and NOT progressive is a bad thing, and the list goes… Read more »
George Nixon Shuler
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Yo, my spirit’s mighty soft already. After all Mainline Protestants as a faith group voted Republican by a slight majority in the last few elections, and I still go to church and break bread with a few of them. Of course, YMMV – our conservative, majority-minority congregation has a transwoman pianist, so….

james
Guest

like I say–a tunnel………………………………….

Kevin
Guest

Dare I ask? What is a transwoman? Just wonderin’.

George Nixon Shuler
Guest

Hmmmm, you don’t know? Do you know what a transgender person is?

George Nixon Shuler
Guest

I guess saying “LGBTQXYZ” or somesuch is the equivalent of saying “——” in the 1950s, then.

Kevin
Guest

Never got past “B” on the LGBTQXYZ…… alphabet. Not going to Google it either.

Kevin
Guest

Merry Christmas to you too James. I enjoy reading your comments.

George Nixon Shuler
Guest
Well, Kevin, perhaps a “worldview” in which oppression is not sneered at would be what might be required to act in an appropriate Christian Spirit. I’ll give you a hint: the rest of the bully boys who revel in oppressing others love to claim “The Race Card” is being played, but the truth is, there is no card and it is not a game. Chew on that for a minute or two. BTW, T-Shirts are not needed – white privilege is considerably obvious. 25% of the prisoners in prisons in the world are in the United States, and the major… Read more »
Kevin
Guest

Great stuff George. You clearly hold a world view that I cannot possibly grasp. My lunch hour is complete. Perhaps you can help me come up with some snappy slogans for my white privilege T-shirt line I am starting?

George Nixon Shuler
Guest
What is the objection you have to my December 11 post above? Take me through it. CBT is a form of interpersonal therapy similar to Rational Emotive Therapy and Cognitive Therapy which seeks to lead those overcome with irrational beliefs to overcome them. Among its gurus are Beck, Adler. Glaser, etc. Some lay people conceive of therapeutic practices as typically wealthy people with more money than sense spend time reclining on a psychiatrist’s couch. These days, you only go to the psychiatrist for prescriptions. Talk therapies are now shorter term and reality based, and engaged in together with more typically… Read more »
Kevin
Guest

George
I have said it before. You are entertaining. Must be something in the water at Junction City.

George Nixon Shuler
Guest
My friend, what is entertaining about an individual asking another poster for clarity, as one poster here claims to advocate? Is the fact such is not forthcoming amusing to those who find bullying enjoyable, and willfully participate in it? Actually, it’s pretty good water, compared to some other places. The access to it is among the things our forefathers advocated in The Declaration of Independence when they stated “…to secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity, GOVERNMENTS were instituted among men…” (emphasis mine). Much of the misery in much of the rest of the world is due… Read more »
George Nixon Shuler
Guest

I do not recall a respectful request for clarification from you. I do recall a series of hot-peppered gotcha questions which were inappropriate and uncivil. Moreover, I wasn’t asking you.

james
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Political correctness permeates the fabric of this country now. Quotas are called for and demanded to be met whether or not the decision is good/sound/valid/etc. Merit has gone out the door. One can decide for one’s self–just do not express the decision lest someone be offended. And, this country, the church, the education, the moral fabric continues to slide into mediocrity. All–white, black, brown, red, yellow, male, female are the infractors. If–somehow–a mutual concern for this country is not fostered we are down the proverbial creek. Worshiping at the altar of political correctness will not accomplish it……….
George Nixon Shuler
Guest
“Political correctness permeates the fabric of this country now.” Hyperbole much? ” Quotas are called for and demanded to be met whether or not the decision is good/sound/valid/etc. ” I am not aware of any instance of any demand of any sort for “quotas,” except in asking delegate selection reflect the community. That is certainly reasonable. “Merit has gone out the door.” Correction: “Merit” was never inside the door. Prior to the modern era, status was determined by one’s birth. Mediocrity was promoted. White made right. “If you’re black, stay in back” was the rule which governed who got what.… Read more »
james
Guest

at the risk of being banned forever–this question begs to be asked: Does/will political correctness guarantee–or–does faith/belief in a Crucified and Risen Savior guarantee–
ones salvation? the Latter sees all as His children–the former only division……………………

George Nixon Shuler
Guest
Perhaps those asking such rhetorical questions would better serve themselves by studying the origins of the term “politically correct.” It is not and never has been a goal of progressivism, either the secularist or religious variety. It was conceived as an irony at the time of the U.S. Conference on Women at Houston in 1977 – a joke in the form of an irony which is lost on the players of the “Ain’t it Awful?” game. Irony is something which zips past thick heads of the type which believes John Wayne style strong silent types are needed to protect and… Read more »
james
Guest

thank you for proving the point, mr./dr./rev./? Shuler.

George Nixon Shuler
Guest

Oh? What point is that?

No PhD or rev here, just a lay servant, recently credentialed as a CBT provider.

james
Guest

Stumped me. What’s a CBT provider?

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