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Women of color scholarship program celebrates 18 years

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Anne Joh
April 5, 2006

By Vicki Brown*

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — A program to create a pool of trailblazing United Methodist women of color in theological and religious education will celebrate the successes of 18 years at an Aug. 11-13 gathering in Chicago.

The Rev. Anne Joh, an assistant professor of constructive theology at Phillips Theological Seminary in Tulsa, Okla., credits the Women of Color mentors with helping her get through her doctoral program. She earned a doctorate degree at Drew University, The Theological School in Madison, N.J., in 2003.

“The landscape of the doctoral program is not so friendly to women in general and even more so for women of color. I did my work in my institution, but it was within the space of Women of Color gatherings that I was nurtured and empowered,” said Joh, who will be among the scholars signing books at the August gathering at the Hyatt-Regency McCormick Place. Her newest book, Heart of The Cross: A Postcolonial Christology, will be published by Westminster John Knox Press this summer.

“I think that for most of the participants, it was a time where we could be honest without fear of repercussions. Honest assessments were made and offered in terms of how to strategize to not just survive the doctoral program but to come out thriving,” Joh said. “The Women of Color scholars program instilled in me the importance of integrity and community in theological reflections.”

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Women of Color Consultation Logo

The 2006 Women of Color Consultation/Celebration, to be held in conjunction with the International United Methodist Clergywomen’s Consultation, will highlight new insights, theological perspectives and the academic work of the program’s graduate scholars, mentors and current participants. It is sponsored by the Office of Loans and Scholarships and the Division of Ordained Ministry of the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry in Nashville.

The program includes the keynote address by a former Women of Color scholar, the Rev. Rosetta Ross, chairwoman of the department of philosophy and religion at Spelman College, Atlanta. Also featured are workshops and a reception and book signing featuring the published works of the Women of Color graduates and mentors.

A celebration banquet will feature the premiere of the DVD, “Following the Path,” produced by the Rev. Hilly Hicks, United Methodist Communications executive producer, and freelance writer and producer Henri Giles. The film shares the stories of the Women of Color graduates who now hold key positions in seminaries and divinity schools around the world.

The Women of Color program provides up to $10,000 a year in scholarship funds to women of color who are working on doctorates in philosophy or theology. Recipients of the scholarship meet twice a year with mentors — women of color who are working in theological education.

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Angella Current-Felder

“When this program was envisioned by the black clergywomen at their consultation in 1987, we had no idea of the number of United Methodist women who were called to be professors in theological and religious education,” said Angella Current-Felder, executive director of the board’s Office of Loans and Scholarships and co-director of the Women of Color program. “At that time, there was no pool of United Methodist women of color academicians who, as teachers and researchers, would enhance the body of knowledge within the academy of religion and biblical scholarship.”

Eighteen years later, 40 women have participated in the program and 22 graduates have their Ph.Ds or Th.Ds in religious studies.

“That is a major beginning, and these scholars are making remarkable contributions as they teach and train potential religious educators, ministers and pastors for our churches and add their scholarly perspectives to the canons of academia,” Current-Felder added.

To learn more or to register for the Women of Color Consultation/Celebration, visit or call the Office of Loans and Scholarships at (615) 340-7342.

*Brown is an associate editor and writer in the Office of Interpretation, United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry.

News media contact: Linda Green, (615) 742-5470 or

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