Student Stories

Forum for Theological Exploration Awards Fellowships to Two Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary Doctoral Students

Forum for Theological Education

Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary is proud to announce doctoral students Gina A. S. Robinson and Bryson White have been selected to receive a 2019 Doctoral Fellowship from the Forum for Theological Exploration (FTE). Robinson is studying in the Christian education and congregational studies field and White is studying in the theology and ethics field of Garrett-Evangelical’s doctor of philosophy program.

FTE awarded its 2019 Doctoral Fellowships to 30 students of color across 18 institutions to support their PhD or ThD program in religion, theological studies, or biblical studies. Students in this year’s class will either receive the Fellowship for Doctoral Students of African Descent or the Fellowship for Latino/a, Asian and First Nations Doctoral Students. Each Fellow will receive a living stipend up to $25,000 to help further their studies beyond the coursework stage.

“This class of scholars share an ethos of equity, collaboration, and work that should inspire future Fellows and the academy,” said Dr. Patrick B. Reyes, FTE director of strategic partnerships for doctoral initiatives. “Each member of this class labors for their ancestors, family, and community and we are honored to be part of their journey.”

As part of the fellowship award, Fellows will have the opportunity to attend the 2019 FTE Forum for Theological Educators, held November 22-24, 2019, in San Diego, California, prior to the annual meetings of the American Academy of Religion and Society of Biblical Literature. The Forum will provide opportunities for networking, professional development, vocational exploration, and mentoring.

In addition to its fellowships for dissertation stage doctoral students, FTE provides professional development opportunities for PhD and ThD students in the first two years of their studies. FTE developed these doctoral initiatives to help accelerate the completion of doctoral degrees among students of color and to foster diversity across the academy in North America.

Since 1999, FTE has awarded more than 550 fellowships to students of color and has maintained a 97 percent retention rate among its Doctoral Fellows.

For a full list of FTE’s 2019 Doctoral Fellows, visit fteleaders.org/2019fellows.

Gina Robinson

Gina A. S. Robinson holds a bachelor of arts from Emory University in African American studies and political science. She completed a master of divinity from Candler School of Theology and a master of sacred theology from Yale Divinity School prior to beginning her studies at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. Robinson has spent a significant amount of her theological career engaging in the praxis of Christian education as a youth chaplain for the Bay View Association, a Chautauqua in Michigan; the administrator for the Greenhouse Youth Ministry of Elizabeth Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia; and an intern at the Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church also in Atlanta, Georgia. She currently serves Cathedral of Grace | St. John AME church in Aurora, Illinois, as the youth and young adult minister.

Robinson’s dissertation will examine the lived experiences of suburban black Christian girls to determine how womanist theology can inform a pedagogy that nurtures their womanish sensibilities and helps them to thrive in the 21st century. Broadly, Robinson’s interests lie at the intersections of womanist theology, liberatory education, and identity formation. Her work is inspired by the individual and collective creative genius of Ella Baker, bell hooks, Beyoncé, and Solange. Robinson’s upbringing on her great-grandfather’s farm in rural Georgia both grounds her and drives her to remain faithful to the fullness of her call.

“Receiving this FTE fellowship as a doctoral fellow is truly an honor and a privilege that I do not take lightly. Yes, I worked hard to get where I am, but I did not get here alone. My family’s legacy is rooted in both education and religion, so continuing on this path to serve both the church and the academy with the support of FTE is deeply meaningful for me,” said Robinson. “I want to thank specifically my advisor, Dr. Reginald Blount and each of the dynamic faculty members in the Christian Education and Congregational Studies department for creating a culture for Christian education students at Garrett-Evangelical that is marked by encouragement, nurture and rigor. This fellowship will allow me to follow the advice of our beloved ancestor Dr. Katie G. Cannon and ‘do the work my soul must have’ with more financial support. The fire that burns within me blisters for this work. I am excited to continue on this journey of scholarly development and growth.”

Bryson White

Bryson White holds masters’ degrees in theology and intercultural studies from Fuller Theological Seminary and a bachelor’ degree in political science from California State University at Northridge. White comes into the academy from the field of community organizing with the PICO National Network in his hometown of Fresno, California. He is an ordained Baptist minister and currently attends the Second Baptist Church in Evanston, Illinois. White is a kidney transplant recipient of seventeen years, and is married to Jennifer White of Richmond, California.

“Theological and ethical studies provide analytical tools to interrogate the malformation of society, while also providing constructive theological alternatives for the reshaping of our public square,” said White. “The world in which we live and navigate is grossly marked by the constitutive evils of white supremacy, patriarchal idolatry, a culture of punishment, and a myriad of other forms of intersecting oppressions. Within this climate, both Christian communities and the nation need crisp and relevant theological scholarship, preaching, and community leadership to reshape our public life together. As an FTE Doctoral Fellow, I will deploy the resources found within Christian theologies to continue to make my contribution as a servant to the church through activism and public scholarship.”

“It is a great honor to have been selected as an FTE Doctoral Fellow. This is a tribute to my wife, my family, faith communities, academic mentors, and colleagues who have invested their time, wisdom, and resources into my journey. It is a special reflection upon my parents, Paul and Sheila White, who encouraged me to think critically about the times in which we find ourselves. Previous FTE Doctoral Fellows continue to play significant roles in shaping the academy, church communities, and society; it truly is an honor to follow in their footsteps.”

Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, a graduate school of theology related to The United Methodist Church, was founded in 1853. Located on the campus of Northwestern University, the seminary serves more than 450 students from various denominations and 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.