The Reverend Dr. Esther E. Acolatse Appointed as Professor of Pastoral Theology and World Christianity
April 18, 2022
Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary is pleased to announce the appointment of the Reverend Dr. Esther E. Acolatse as professor of pastoral theology and world Christianity, beginning July 1, 2022. Acolatse brings a wealth of teaching experience and academic scholarship at the intersection of psychology and Christian thought in aid of human flourishing, with interests in the gendered body, cultural anthropological dimensions of medicine, health, and healing, and their implications for suffering, death, dying, and care at the end of life.
“Professor Acolatse is a brilliant pastoral theologian who adds yet another majority world perspective to our already globally diverse faculty,” said President Javier A. Viera. “Her work is broad in scope—including biblical hermeneutics, systematic theology, Jungian analytical psychology, pneumatology, and pastoral care and counseling, among others. This intellectual breadth, her commitment to the Church as an alternative and transformative ethic in the world, and her proudly and uniquely African-centric analysis of western culture and religious life will be a boon to our programs and add depth to our ongoing conversations and research.”
Acolatse is currently the professor of pastoral theology and intercultural studies at Knox College, Toronto School of Theology, at the University of Toronto. Her ongoing research explores methodological issues in the practice of theology of the Christian life, and the relevance of these themes in the global expression of Christianity, particularly African and Western dimensions in dialogue. Acolatse’s current research focuses on issues around care and counseling with migrant families and implications for intra/interfaith dialogue and spiritual care for re-missioning the global church.
“I am delighted to join a world class faculty in a school that in many ways is synonymous with the academic discipline of Pastoral Care worldwide,” said Acolatse.” I look forward to collaborating in the formation of would be pastors and academics for the needs of a multicultural church and society. I bring a decidedly intercultural voice and a teaching style that helps students question their answers to arrive at even deeper questions, and a collaborative style that ensures students learn to share their intellectual gifts and thus live of a life of service.”
“Dr. Acolatse will bring her African expression of Christianity, a particular pedagogical engagement with students, and a senior vantage point in faculty conversation and scholarship,” noted Dr. Rodolfo R. Nolasco, Jr., who chaired the faculty search committee and serves as the Reuben P. Job professor of spiritual formation and pastoral theology. “Further, given her chaplaincy background and her pastoral identity, we are confident she will provide strong contributions to the seminary’s new chaplaincy track within the master of arts in pastoral care and counseling degree.”
An accomplished writer, Acolatse is the author of Powers, Principalities, and the Spirit: Biblical Realism in Africa and the West (Eerdmans, 2018), and For Freedom or Bondage: A Critique of African Pastoral Practices (Eerdmans, 2014), along with over two dozen articles and book chapters. She also has two forthcoming publications: Re-Missioning in an Age of Migrant Angst, which willlook at how caring for migrant families and focusing on their flourishing in exile reorients the Western Church to a proper missional theology and growth beyond survival, and Holistic Theology for Modern Black/African Churches, an edited volume with a colloquium of 18 theologians from the African continent and diaspora, exploring questions of Christianity and Africanness/Blackness in a world where Black bodies are still contested human space, with irenic spirit and studious scholarship.
Acolatse’s research and academic prowess has been recognized with numerous awards including the Carnegie Africa Diaspora Fellowship, Duke University’s Julian Abele Mentor of the Year – First Runner-Up, a Duke Global Health Initiative Grant, American Association of University Women – International Fellow Award, and the World Council of Churches – Theological Education Scholarship.
Acolatse is an active leader and member of numerous academic guilds, publications, and organizations. She currently serves on the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa College of Mentors and the Association of Theological Schools Board of Commissioners. She also served on the Advisory Council for the Journal and Dictionary of African Christian Biography (Boston University Center for Global Christianity and Mission). She is a member of the International Academy of Practical Theology, American Academy of Religion, Society of Biblical Literature, Society for Pastoral Theology, Yale-Edinburgh Group for the Study of Christianity in a Non-Western World, and is an associate fellow at the Center for World Catholicism and Intercultural Theology at DePaul University.
A lifelong member of the Presbyterian Church, Acolatse is an ordained clergyperson in the Presbyterian Church (USA). She earned a bachelor of arts (Hons) Magna Cum Laude from the University of Ghana, a master of theological studies from Harvard University, and a doctor of philosophy from Princeton Theological Seminary.