Black Bodies and the Justice of God: Fourth Annual Community Conversation on Race and Faith and the Kelso Lecture

January 13, 2018

Black Bodies and the Justice of God

Fourth Annual Community Conversation on Race and Faith and the Kelso Lecture


Kelly Brown Douglas, Dean, Episcopal Divinity School at Union Theological Seminary

Prior to her appointment as dean at Episcopal Divinity School at Union, Dr. Douglas was the Susan D. Morgan Professor of Religion and Canon Theologian at Washington National Cathedral. Previously, she was associate professor of theology at Howard University School of Divinity (1987-2001) and assistant professor of religion at Edward Waters College (1986-1987).

A leading voice in the development of a womanist theology, she is widely published in national and international journals and other publications. Her groundbreaking and widely used book Sexuality and the Black Church: A Womanist Perspective (1999) was the first to address the issue of homophobia within the black church community. Her latest book, Stand Your Ground: Black Bodies and the Justice of God (2015) examines the deep roots of “Stand Your Ground” culture in America and the challenges it brings for the Black Church community. Her other books include The Black Christ (1994), What’s Faith Got to Do With It?: Black Bodies/Christian Souls (2005), and Black Bodies and the Black Church: A Blues Slant (2012), which seeks to move the black church beyond its oppressive views toward LGBT bodies and sexuality in general.

Dr. Douglas is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Denison where she earned her bachelor’s summa cum laude in psychology. She went on to earn her master of divinity and doctorate in systematic theology from Union Theological Seminary.

A native of Dayton, Ohio, Douglas was ordained at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church in 1985—the first black woman to be ordained an Episcopal priest in the Southern Ohio Diocese, and amongst the first 10 to be ordained nationwide. Prior to her former role at the Washington National Cathedral, the Rev. Douglas was an associate priest at Holy Comforter Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C. for more than 20 years.


Sat., Jan. 13, 2018, 2:00-7:00 p.m.

Overview / Schedule

In 2014, in the wake of tensions surrounding the grand jury decision not to indict the police officer involved in the shooting of Michael Brown, the Union Baptist Church of Swissvale and Pittsburgh Mennonite Church together contacted Pittsburgh Theological Seminary to begin to address through ongoing conversations what Martin Luther King described as the “most segregated hour of the week”—namely time spent in worship. Now in its fourth year of conversation, the Seminary is hosting the Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas, an American scholar and social justice activist, as the 2018 Kelso Endowed Lecturer. Her lecture will be the centerpiece of a day-long event designed to equip and empower individuals to form on-going relationships that cross traditional boundaries to work for justice, especially racial justice. This event is free to participants and targeted toward students, community members, and members and leaders in faith-based organizations.

Following the keynote presentation, participants will break into small groups for discussion on questions raised during the lecture. A community meal in which people of diverse backgrounds—economic, racial, and geographic (myriad Pittsburgh communities)—will break bread together will be held at the conclusion of the day’s sessions.

This lecture is supported by the James A. Kelso Endowment. Co-sponsored with Metro-Urban Institute, PTS.

2:00 p.m.            Keynote Black Bodies and the Justice of God, Hicks Chapel Sanctuary

3:10 p.m.            Break and Refreshments, Knox Room, Long Hall

3:30 p.m.            Breakout Conversations Led by Community Leadership, Long Hall

5:00 p.m.            Dinner and Worship, Knox Room, Long Hall 

Registration / Directions / CEUs


Registration: We appreciate advance registration so we may plan appropriately for refreshments and dinner. The event is free and there will be a free-will offering during dinner.

Directions: Directions to the Seminary. Free parking is available on campus behind the chapel and library.

CEUs: 0.1 CEU for the public lecture. Continuing Education certificates for clergy and laity are available upon request.


Questions can be sent to [email protected] or 412-924-1345.