Chaplain’s Speaker Series
Starting in Spring of 2013, the University Chaplain has been given the charge of starting a new speaker series to bring to Vanderbilt’s campus dynamic and thought provoking speakers who will speak to religious life and the life of spirituality on college campuses. Bringing one great speaker per semester, the Office of Religious Life welcomes the opportunity to hear from clergy, professionals and speakers alike to delve into a topic that is needed to be talked about more on university campuses.
Rev. Dr. Emilie M. Townes – Does Your House Have Lions?
On February 26th, 2014 at 7 pm in Vanderbilt University’s Benton Chapel, the Chaplain’s Speaker Series returned with Rev. Dr. Emilie Townes, the 16th Dean of Vanderbilt’s Divinity School. Dean Townes gave a talk entitled, “Does Your House Have Lions? Citizenship and Faith in Today’s World.”
Dean Townes holds the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Chair in Womanist Ethics and Society. She came to Vanderbilt from Yale University, where she was a distinguished scholar and administrator. Townes’ broad areas of expertise include Christian ethics, cultural theory and studies, postmodernism and social postmodernism. She has been a pioneering scholar in womanist theology, a field of studies in which the historic and current insights of African American women are brought into critical engagement with the traditions of Christian theology. Townes has a strong interest in thinking critically about womanist perspectives on issues such as health care, economic justice, poetry and literary theory.
She is the author of the groundbreaking book Womanist Ethics and the Cultural Production of Evil(Palgrave Macmillan Press, 2006). Other books include Breaking the Fine Rain of Death: African American Health Care and A Womanist Ethic of Care (Continuum, 1998), In a Blaze of Glory: Womanist Spirituality as Social Witness (Abingdon Press, 1995) and Womanist Justice, Womanist Hope (Scholars Press, 1993). She co-edited Womanist Theological Ethics: A Reader (Westminster John Knox Press, 2011) with Katie Geneva Cannon and Angela D. Simms. In addition, Religion, Health, and Healing in African American Life (Praeger, 2008) was co-edited by Townes with Stephanie Y. Mitchem.
The ordained American Baptist clegywoman earned a doctorate in philosophy from the Joint Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary/Northwestern University Program in Religious and Theological Studies in 1989. She also received a doctorate in ministry from the University of Chicago in 1982. Previously, Townes earned her master’s and bachelor’s degrees at the University of Chicago. She continues her research on women and health in the African diaspora in Brazil and the United States.
Townes currently serves as president of the Society for the Study of Black Religion (2012–2016). She was the first African American woman elected to the presidential line of the American Academy of Religion, which she led in 2008. Townes was inducted as a fellow in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2009.
In 2010 Townes was honored as Distinguished Religious Scholar by the Black Religious Scholars Group. She also received a Doctor of Human Letters from the Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary that year. She has also received honorary doctorates from Washington and Jefferson College and Franklin College.
Pastor Rob Bell – What We Talk About When We Talk About God
March 14, 2013 welcomed Pastor Rob Bell to campus. Rob Bell, the Founding Pastor and Pastor Emeritus of Mars Hill Bible Church and author of “Love Wins”, “Velvet Elvis”, and “Sex God” came to Benton Chapel to speak for the first event of the new Chaplain’s Lecture Series. Mr. Belll spoke on his new book “What We Talk About When We Talk About God.” Rob Bell graduated from Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois, and Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. Read the recap of the event here.