Womanist Institute Launched at UPSem

"Squaring the Womanist Circle: Translating Black Women’s Religious Scholarship into Community Service" is a project that will serve as a launching pad for a continuing Institute of Womanist Studies at Union Presbyterian Seminary. Project directors are Katie G. Cannon, professor of Christian ethics at Union Presbyterian Seminary; Angela D. Sims, assistant professor of ethics and Black church studies at Saint Paul School of Theology (Kansas City, MO); and Erica E. Kierulf, Ph.D. candidate at Union Presbyterian Seminary.

"Squaring the Womanist Circle" will open a multi-voice conversation among a diverse group of women to explore and address lived concerns of African American girls and women. The project will give voice to women working for justice from a religious framework and will send an important and timely signal to the broader community that women of faith are committed to discerning new ways to focus on the well-being of women and girls of African descent in a mutli-religious world.

“For almost three decades, African American women scholars and theologians have engaged in discourse on race, gender, sexuality and social class,” says Cannon. “Yet, a consistent criticism is that our womanist work as academicians is separated from our labor as scholar practitioners who address issues and needs throughout the Black community.”

Over a period of three years, "Squaring the Womanist Circle" will bring together activists who are academics, religious practitioners, healthcare providers, artists, researchers, policymakers, and students from a variety of disciplines. They will share life lessons learned from embodied mediated knowledge, so that together women can imagine alternative ways of being and establish healthy and innovative agendas for their future.

The initiative has been awarded a three-year $150,000 grant from the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation.

A free lunch and workshop, "Prophetically Moving Toward Womanist Possibilities," served as the inaugural event for the Squaring the Womanist Circle series and was facilitated by Dr. Cannon on Tuesday, November 13, 12-1:30 p.m. at the Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology.