I want to take time to thank those who supported me and made this project possible. First, I am so grateful to the Forum for Theological Exploration (FTE) for providing me with a ministry exploration grant that allowed me to complete this project. It was at the 2021 virtual Christian Leadership Forum where we were encouraged to map our next most faithful step that I first begun thinking about what it would mean to do work around Black women, faith, and sexuality, possibly through a womanist lens.
Next, I want to thank my undergraduate college chaplain, Rev. Brandon Harris, for encouraging me to apply for the grant. While I graduated a few years ago, Rev. Harris has continued to encourage me and support me as I’ve navigated my seminary and ministry journeys.
I am grateful to my Candler School of Theology community for inspiring me to think differently. It was at Candler where my theology grew and evolved, where I began to ask questions, and where I wrestled with what it means to develop a theology that cares for the whole person, bodies and souls. The blog posts and reflections that you will read in this project were developed inside and outside of the Candler classrooms.
Next, I want to thank my mentor, Rev. Kamilah Hall Sharp. When I began this project, I told FTE that I would like them to connect me with a mentor and they picked someone from the list of those I hoped to speak to, Rev. Kamilah Hall Sharp, co-pastor of The Gathering, a Womanist Church. Rev. Kamilah has been such an amazing mentor. She has met with me regularly throughout this journey. She has helped me navigate and discern next steps, whether in the Academy, the Church, or in other arenas. Rev. Kamilah has been open, honest, and transparent in sharing lessons from her journey and has asked questions that encourage me to think deeper and helped me come to understand my call, even at times when I was resistant to accept it. I am truly grateful to have been connected with Rev. Kamilah.
Last but not least, I want to thank my family and community. They have supported me throughout my lifetime, and I would not be where I am without them. It is my family that developed in me empathy, compassion, and a passion for justice. I learned as a young child the importance of caring for others and showing the love of God to all I meet. While the focus has changed, the mission has remained, in the words of Emily Dickinson, “If I can stop one heart from breaking, I shall not live in vain.”