Public Theology: Serving for the Common Good
At Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary we want our graduates to thrive as public theologians in their communities. Being a public theologian means being able to bring the resources of our faith to the public square with concern for “the common good.” It means being mindful about where God is at work—or not—in certain circumstances. It means explicitly using the language of our faith—sometimes. And, sometimes it means simply caring enough, across the otherness we encounter in the public square, to participate with those of different faiths, or no faith, in a set of shared ethics and in the actions that ensue from these commitments. This kind of collaboration with others for the wellbeing of all increases our impact on issues of homelessness, violence in our communities, poverty, hunger, unemployment, immigration justice, health care, sustainability of our environment, access to quality education, and more.
Though we have taken significant steps–both in the classroom and in practice–to prepare our graduates to be faith leaders in the public square, we are just getting started. Currently the seminary is in the midst of a Public Theology Feasibility Study. The study has already confirmed the seminary’s commitment and excitement across the institution regarding the congruence of public theology with our historical, traditional, and institutional identity. The current focal points for our work in public theology center on racial equity and nonviolence, environmental sustainability, and child advocacy. Through our lectures, curriculum, and community engagement, we continue to ensure public theology remains at the forefront of our work in preparing religious leaders to meet the ever-changing challenges and needs of our local and global communities.
Public Theology Lecture Series
About the Public Theology Lecture Series
Sponsored by the Office of the President, the Public Theology Lecture Series seeks to help the Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary community understand more about the intersection of the theological perspectives and values as they perform service in the public arena for the well being of all persons and creation. The 2015-2016 series, held in honor of the 45th Anniversary of the Center for the Church and the Black Experience, focuses on racial equity and diversity inclusion and provides education and support for religious leaders committed to promoting understanding, dialogue, and justice in their communities.
2015-2016 Public Theology Lecture Series
September 22, 2015
Ferguson at the Intersection of Faith and Justice
November 3, 2015
Freedom in Blackness: Exploring Theology and Self-Identity
February 23, 2016
Race Matters through the Lenses of a Local Pastor
March 22, 2016
Conversations with Country Dark: The Craft of Creating Space for Fearless Dialogues
April 5, 2016
What to Make of White People: Theological Reflections on BLM
2014-2015 Public Theology Lecture Series
October 15, 2014
Public Theology and the Work of the Children's Defense Fund: A Change is Gonna Come
December 3, 2014
Power and Politics: Public Theology's Milieu
March 11, 2015
The Pursuit of God in the World
Public Theology in the Classroom
Though many of our core courses have long incorporated aspects of public theology, Garrett-Evangelical has begun offering new courses that center around the current focal points for our work in public theology. Some of those courses include:
- Interrupting Violence: A Case Study into a Power and a Principality
- Public Theology in the City
- Seminar in Christian Education: Child Advocacy
- Food, Faith, And Justice: Holy Communion For The Whole Creation
Visiting Scholar in Public Theology
Garrett-Evangelical welcomed prominent theologian and scholar Dr. Mark Lewis Taylor during the Fall 2014 semester as Distinguished Visiting Professor of Public Theology. Taylor has written extensively on religion, culture, and politics and holds the Maxwell M. Upson Professor of Theology and Culture at Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton, New Jersey. During his time at Garrett-Evangelical, Taylor gave a public theology lecture titled, "Power and Politics: Public Theology's Milieu," which can be viewed online.
Establishing Justice at the City Gate: A Public Theology Conversation
As a part of the inaugural celebration of Lallene J. Rector as president of Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, a panel discussion was held titled "Establishing Justice at the City Gate: A Public Theology Conversation." The discussion featured six theologians and public leaders and centered on three key issues: violence, the environment, and immigration.
Public Theology in Practice
Children's Defense Fund Freedom Schools Program
Garrett-Evangelical is an official partner of the Children's Defense Fund Freedom Schools® program and, in partnership with the Evanston community, will be offering this high-quality, literacy-rich program free to underserved children in the Evanston community in the summer. The six-week program helps children fall in love with reading and makes learning fun. It has proven to curb summer learning loss and help close achievement gaps. You can read the news release here.
SBC21 Field Education Opportunities
Garrett-Evangelical has partnered with the United Methodist program, Strengthening the Black Church for the 21st Century (SBC21), that trains seminarians in community organizing in urban ministry field placements in the Chicago area.
Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary is committed to integrating ecological perspectives and sustainable practices throughout the curriculum, worship and spiritual life, programming, buildings and grounds, and administrative operations of the seminary. Ourcommitment to environmental sustainability also includes empowering students, faculty, and staff to be good stewards of the earth and its resources in their daily lives, while seeking out institutional collaboration with environmental groups in the Northwestern, Evanston, and Chicago communities.
You can learn more about our environmental stewardship efforts at Garrett.edu/GoGreen.
Interfaith Luncheon with Northwestern University
Each year, Garrett-Evangelical cohosts an interfaith luncheon for Evanston religious leaders at Northwestern University with President Morty Schapiro.
Seminarians for Justice
Seminarians for Justice is a Garrett-Evangelical student group that seeks to provide a community where students can learn about justice work and what it means to actualize public theology. This includes providing education about social/environmental justice issues, connecting with other organizations and seminaries that are working on social/environmental change, and taking part in public actions. Seminarians for Justice values both robust existential reflection on the issues of our time and substantive public work that furthers the commonwealth of God. We are a social action and group education network. Taking seriously the notion of the Word as flesh, we will strive to embody what Christ looks like today by educating ourselves on, and engaging with, contemporary social and/or environmental issues in a public way.