Garrett-Evangelical News

Leading Woman Ethicist Emilie M. Townes To Deliver Commencement Address on May 14

EVANSTON, Ill., April 2010 - Professor, author, ordained minister and womanist ethicist, the Rev. Dr. Emilie M. Townes will deliver the keynote address at Garrett-Evangelical's 153rd commencement service on May 14 at First United Methodist Church in Evanston.

emilie-townesShe is the Andrew W. Mellon Professor of African American Religion and Theology at Yale University Divinity School, where she is the first African American and first woman to serve as Associate Dean of Academic Affairs. Previously, she was the Carolyn Williams Beaird Professor of Christian Ethics at Union Theological Seminary in New York, and Professor of Christian Social Ethics and Black Church Ministries at St. Paul School of Theology in Kansas City.

In her writing and scholarship, Townes focuses on the intersection of class, gender and race as windows into our inhumanity and guideposts for our attempts at justice. Her specific interests include health and health care; analyzing the cultural production of evil and linkages among race, gender, class and other forms of oppression; and developing a network between African American and Afro-Brazilian religious and secular leaders and community-based organizations.

"Emilie Townes is the towering womanist ethicist of our time," said Cornel West of Princeton University. "In this ice age of indifference and evasion, her powerful voice and viewpoint summon us. And we thank her for her vision and courage."

Her books include "Womanist Ethics and the Cultural Production of Evil" (2006); "Breaking the Fine Rain of Death: African American Health Issues and a Womanist Ethic of Care" (1998); "In a Blaze of Glory: Womanist Spirituality as Social Witness" (1995); and "Womanist Justice, Womanist Hope" (1993). She has also edited two books: Embracing the Spirit: Womanist Perspectives on Hope, Salvation, and Transformation (1997) and A Troubling in My Soul: Womanist Perspectives on Evil and Suffering (1993).

In 2008 she became the first African American woman to serve as president of the American Academy of Religion, the largest professional society for scholars of religion with more than 10,000 members. She was also named in 2008 the Alumna of the Year by the University of Chicago Divinity School.

Ordained in the American Baptist denomination, she has served as pastoral leader of United Faith Affinitas, an LGBT congregation in Chicago, and interim pastoral leader of Christ the Redeemer Metropolitan Community Church in Evanston.

A native of Durham, NC, she earned a Ph.D. in a joint Garrett-Evangelical and Northwestern University program (1989) and a doctor of ministry from the University of Chicago Divinity School. She earned her bachelor's degree from the University of Chicago and a master's degree from its Divinity School.

Garrett-Evangelical is a graduate school of theology of The United Methodist Church founded in 1853. Located on the campus of Northwestern University, the seminary serves more than 500 students from many denominations and various cultural backgrounds, fostering an atmosphere of ecumenical interaction. Garrett-Evangelical creates bold leaders through master of divinity, master of arts, master of theological studies, doctor of philosophy and doctor of ministry degrees. Its 4,500 living alumni serve church and society around the world.

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