Thursday Workshop Descriptions

Beloved Community: Nonviolent Direct Action Community Organizing 

This workshop will focus on nonviolent direct action organizing, including the importance of relationship and community building as central to movement building. We are faced with extreme abuse of police power, growing income inequality, declining quality of public education, wealth and political power. This workshop will explore nonviolent direct action organizing that affirms the dignity, worth, and enormous unrealized potential of all, with an emphasis on those who are impoverished and most marginalized. These interactive sessions will draw on the experience of 50 years of movement building that involves neighborhoods, organized labor, churches, and other faith-based institutions, truth and reconciliation initiatives, and work with gang members.

Facilitated by Rev. Nelson N. Johnson, Executive Director of the Beloved Community Center of Greensboro, and Joyce Hobson Johnson, Director of the Jubilee Institute of the Beloved Community Center of Greensboro. 

Rev. Nelson N. Johnson, Executive Director of the Beloved Community Center of Greensboro, has been active in the movement for social and economic justice since high school. He served as president of the National Student Organization for Black Unity in the 70’s. As a student leader, he worked closely with the NAACP on voter registration, redevelopment, housing, education, open public accommodations and worker justice. He served as Chairperson of the Chicago-based Interfaith Worker Justice and Chairperson of the Gulf Coast Commission on Reconstruction Equity, established in response to the devastation from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. He continues to work for social and economic justice in Greensboro as Pastor of Faith Community Church and Co-Director of the Beloved Community Center of Greensboro. The Rev. Johnson was among the first 17 people arrested in the NC Moral Monday Movement in 2013. 

Joyce Hobson Johnson, Director of the Jubilee Institute of the Beloved Community Center of Greensboro, has been an activist since high school in Richmond, VA, during the 1960s struggle for civil rights and open accommodations. She deepened her involvement in college while supporting campus non-academic employees and the movement for relevant education. A former university business professor and transportation research director, Johnson and others established the pace-setting Greensboro Truth and Community Reconciliation Project in 2001. This initiative was designed to encourage truth, understanding, and healing related to the tragic murder of five labor and racial justice organizers by Ku Klux Klan and American Nazi Party members on November 3, 1979. In addition, she is a member of the Executive Committee of the NC NAACP, the lead entity of the Moral Monday Movement and a co-chair of the National Council of Elders.

Freedom Schools: Bringing the Model to Your Campus 

Considering bringing a Freedom School to your college or seminary campus? This workshop will explore the steps Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary and Wake Forest Divinity School took to bring a Freedom School to their campus and share lessons learned to assist other campuses expand the reach of Freedom Schools in their community. Specifically, we will walk through the experience of introducing the concept of Freedom Schools and gaining support for this program at Wake Forest University. The workshop will highlight efforts to get departmental “buy in,” how we introduced the concept to the university’s cabinet administration, finding campus space to house the Freedom School for six weeks, our efforts to partner with other Freedom Schools in our city, and securing internal (university) and external financial support. We will also explore how we targeted the children for our program.   

Facilitated by Dr. Reginald Blount, Assistant Professor of Formation, Youth, and culture at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary and pastor of Arnett Chapel A.M.E.  Church in Chicago, IL,  Dr. Derek Hicks, Wake Forest University School of Divinity, professor and author of Reclaiming Spirit in the Black Faith Tradition; and Dr. Virginia A. Lee, Associate Professor of Christian Education and Director of Deacon Studies, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary.

Dr. Reginald Blount is the Assistant Professor of Formation, Youth, and Culture at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary who believes “the purpose of Christian education is to be emancipatory, to set people free to be children of God and co-creators with God. Many personal, social, spiritual, and institutional hindrances prevent the people of God from becoming all that God has created them to be. Christian education ought to provide an emancipatory pedagogy….” His research interests are in the areas of African American identity formation, adolescent and young adult identity formation, Christian education theory, Christian education and the black church, and African/African American spirituality. He is currently researching the role of the black church in the identity formation of African American youth. He received a BS from Tuskegee University, MDiv from Candler School of Theology, and PhD from Northwestern University (in cooperation with Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary).

Dr. Derek S. Hicks, Associate Professor of Religion and Culture at Wake Forest University School of Divinity, teaches and researches broadly in areas including African American religion, race, the body, and religion and foodways. Co-chair of the Religion and Food Group at the American Academy of Religion, Dr. Hicks is writing Feeding Flesh and Spirit: Religion, Food, and the Saga of Race in Black America and authored Reclaiming Spirit in the Black Faith Tradition, served as assistant editor of the volume African American Religious Cultures, and contributed chapters for Blacks and Whites in Christian America: How Racial Discrimination Shapes Religious Convictions and Religion, Food, and Eating in North America. Dr. Hicks has been awarded fellowships and grants from the Ford Foundation, the Fund for Theological Education, the Louisville Institute, the Henry Luce Foundation, and the Wabash Center. He earned his BA from Grambling State University, Masters from Dallas Theological Seminary, and PhD from Rice University.

Dr. Virgina A. Leeis Associate Professor of Christian Education and Director of Deacon Studies at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary.  Dr. Lee is also the co-executive director of the Garrett-Evanston Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools Program, a partnership with the city of Evanston, Evanston-Skokie School District 65, and other community groups including faith communities. She received a BA from the College of William and Mary, her MRE from Duke Divinity School, and her EdD from Union Theological Seminary and Presbyterian School of Christian Education.

Redefining Justice from the Inside Out

This workshop is an invitation. We invite you to hear and explore. We will hear from those who have experienced firsthand the path from cradle to prison and explore with them what true partnership with those who are now or have been caged might look like in the struggle to disrupt the powers that hold the system of incarceration intact and dismantle the Cradle to Prison Pipeline.

Facilitated by Rahim Buford, consultant to the CDF Nashville Organizing Team; Dr. Sarah Farmer, Associate Research Scholar and Lecturer at Yale Divinity School, N’dume Olatushani, consultant to the CDF Nashville Organizing Team; and Dr. Charlene Sinclair is the founding director of the Center for Race, Religion, and Economic Democracy (C-RRED) and the program coordinator for the Interfaith Organizing Initiative.

Rahim Buford works with the Children’s Defense Fund Nashville Organizing Team, speaking locally and nationally about his experiences. As founder of the nonprofit Unheard Voices Outreach, he also facilitates classes and workshops at juvenile detention centers, implementing the SALT program (Schools for Alternative Learning and Transformation), which he first experienced as a student when he was in prison. Upon his release in 2015 at the age of 44, after spending 26 years in prison, he was awarded a four-year scholarship to American Baptist College, where he’s currently pursuing a degree in behavioral studies.

Dr. Sarah Farmer is an Associate Research Scholar and Lecturer at Yale Divinity School and helps direct the Adolescent Faith and Flourishing Program at the Yale Center for Faith and Culture. There her research is developing the Theology of Joy & the Good Life project’s extensive interest in joy in adolescence and will lead to publication of scholarly articles, an anthology, a major theological monograph, and curricular materials on both the foundations of joy and flourishing life and the spiritual resources supporting resilience in the face of various sources of adolescent suffering. She was an adjunct faculty member at Emory University and co-directed a Certificate in Theological Studies Program at a nearby women’s prison. Sarah co-founded the Youth Arts and Peace Camp in Chester, PA and worked with the Youth Hope-Builders Academy. She has done extensive research on the concept of hope as it is operationalized in the lives of incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women. She received an MDiv and PhD from Emory University.

Ndume Olatushani is an artist, organizer, and passionate advocate for justice. He is a consultant

with the Children’s Defense Fund’s Nashville Team, working to help challenge the mass incarceration of people of color and zero tolerance school discipline policies that criminalize children. Olatushani was wrongly convicted of murder and served almost 28 years in prison, 20 on death row. He was released on June 1, 2012.


Dr. Charlene Sinclair is the founding director of the Center for Race, Religion, and Economic Democracy (C-RRED) and the program coordinator for the Interfaith Organizing Initiative. Previously, she served as program director for Engaging the Powers at Union Theological Seminary and campaign director for the Center for Community Change. A community organizer for over 20 years, Charlene has helped national and local organizations develop grassroots organizing and political strategies. One of her main areas of interest is dismantling mass incarceration by uniting faith conviction and spirituality in social activism. She serves as a lay minister at the Church on the Hill AME Zion Community. Charlene received her PhD in social ethics from Union Theological Seminary in New York City. 

Preaching for Social Change  

When Jesus told the disciples to go and make disciples of all nations, what did he really mean? This workshop will give you the courage to preach, teach and lead with a commitment to nonviolence and social transformation.

Facilitated by the Rev. Dr. Otis Moss, Jr., Proctor Co-Pastor-in-Residence, civil rights activist, former co-pastor with Dr. Martin Luther King, Sr., and senior pastor emeritus of Olivet Institutional Baptist Church in Cleveland.  

The Rev. Dr. Otis Moss, Jr., Proctor Co-Pastor-in-Residence, is the Pastor Emeritus of Olivet Institutional Baptist Church in Cleveland, Ohio. Previously, he served as co-pastor with Dr. Martin Luther King, Sr., at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. For over 40 years, Dr. Moss has been directly involved in the civil rights movement as a religious leader and community activist espousing the nonviolent approach for affecting social and political change. Moss’s many honors include four honorary doctorates. He chaired the Morehouse College Board of Trustees and was a consultant to President Jimmy Carter. The 2004 Lyman Beecher Lecturer for Yale University Divinity School, Dr. Moss has been selected twice by Ebony magazine as one of “America’s 15 Greatest Black Preachers” and listed as one of 30 people who have defined Cleveland in the last 30 years. He received a BA from Morehouse College, his MDiv from Morehouse School of Religion/ITC, and his DMin from United Theological Seminary.

Health Care for Every Child:  Healing Our Broken System

Poor children and children of color have worse access to health and mental health care and worse health outcomes. This session will review these connections between health and poverty, and how far our nation has come over the last 50 years in expanding health coverage to children, touching on current political risks and opportunities for advocates.  You will also hear about innovative approaches that connect “change philanthropy”, communities of color and policy makers focused on reducing health disparities through policy and system change. The Sierra Health Foundation will present collective action strategies on race and health equity leadership rooted in the belief that all our children matter, and that society has a responsibility to ensure the health and well-being of our most vulnerable populations.​ You will learn how vulnerable communities can advocate for policy change at the local, state, and national levels to maximize child health.

Facilitated by Kindra F. Montgomery Block, Senior Program Officer with the Sierra Health Foundation Center, Dr. Alison Buist, CDF National Director of Child Health, and Chet P. Hewitt, President and CEO of Sierra Health Foundation and its nonprofit intermediary, The Center. 

Alison Buist, PhD, is responsible for developing and implementing CDF's child health policy recommendations and serves as lead advocate for enhancing child health policy to elected officials and policymakers. After nine years at CDF's headquarters in Washington D.C., Alison joined the CDF California team, where she continues her role as CDF's national director of child health and now also advocates for California children. Prior to coming to CDF, Alison served as a staffer in the U.S. Senate on domestic and international health and social policy, worked on child health issues for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, and taught health policy at the George Washington School of Medicine and Health Sciences. Alison received a PhD in health policy from the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health, an MA in health policy and development from Yale University and a BA in government from Pomona College.

Chet P. Hewitt is President and CEO of Sierra Health Foundation and its nonprofit intermediary, The Center. At Sierra Health, Chet has led a bold collective impact strategy focused on promoting health equity in underserved communities and improving the well-being of child and youth populations. Chet has received national attention for his emphasis on making the foundation’s partnerships with local communities throughout California the centerpiece of Sierra Health’s strategy for change. Previously, Chet held senior positions including Director of Alameda County’s Social Services Agency, Associate Director for the Rockefeller Foundation in New York, and Director at the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice in San Francisco. Chet has received numerous awards for his service to children and families, including the Terrance Keenan Leadership in Health Philanthropy Award, and is an Annie E. Casey Children and Families Leadership Fellow. He serves on several boards including REDF, Public Policy Institute of California, Advance Peace and CalNonprofits.

Kindra F. Montgomery-Blockis a Senior Program Officer with the Sierra Health Foundation Center. As the lead staff member to the Steering Committee on the Reduction of African American Child Deaths and the Black Child Legacy Campaign, she oversees the funding and impact strategy for the initiative. Her background is in social justice, youth development, health equity, community violence prevention, and civic engagement, working as a trainer and organizer with communities of color and schools nationwide. Kindra has worked with community-based organizations to strengthen their capacity to support young leaders, engage boards of directors, develop and implement strategic plans, design and implement effective leadership, and provide training in staff development, program evaluation and planning. Her advisory board and executive board of director service includes the Sacramento County Mental Health Board. Kindra has a BA in Political Science and a Master’s in Public Administration.

Dismantling Racism

The Church has played a significant role in establishing racism as an acceptable practice both in the US and globally.  This has been true historically with mainline churches providing biblical justification for slavery, colonialism and apartheid.  It continues to be true today with many churches remaining silent in the face of structural racism represented by police brutality or the cradle to prison pipeline.  This workshop is focused on how the Church and church-people can become active participants in the struggle to end racism.  The Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown-Douglas and the Rev. Naomi Tutu will lead participants in discussions and activities to enable them to go home and help their churches become places actively working to dismantle racism, especially in the US.  

Facilitated by Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas, Dean of Episcopal Divinity School at Union Theological Seminary and Rev. Nontombi Naomi Tutu, speaker, preacher, and founder of Nozizwe Consulting.

Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas is the inaugural Dean of Episcopal Divinity School at Union Theological Seminary. She previously served as the Susan D. Morgan Professor of Religion and Canon Theologian at Washington National Cathedral, Associate Professor of Theology at Howard University School of Divinity, Assistant Professor of Religion at Edward Waters College, and Associate Priest at Holy Comforter Episcopal Church in Washington, DC. A leading voice in the development of a womanist theology, Dr. Douglas is widely published in national and international journals and is the author of Sexuality and the Black Church: A Womanist Perspective, Stand Your Ground: Black Bodies and the Justice of God, The Black Christ, What’s Faith Got to Do With It?: Black Bodies/Christian Souls, and Black Bodies and the Black Church: A Blues Slant. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Denison (B.S.), and Union Theological Seminary (M.Div. and D.D.), Dr. 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 ten to be ordained nationwide. 

Rev. Nontombi Naomi Tutu is the third child Archbishop Desmond and Nomalizo Leah Tutu. Born in South Africa and educated in Swaziland, the U.S., and England, she has divided her adult life between South Africa and the U.S.  Her professional experience includes development consulting in West Africa, coordinating programs on Race and Gender and Gender-based Violence in Education at the African Gender Institute at the University of Cape Town, and teaching at the University of Hartford, University of Connecticut and Brevard College in North Carolina. A program coordinator for the historic Race Relations Institute at Fisk University, she was a delegate to the World Conference against Racism in Durban.  In addition to speaking and preaching widely, Rev. Tutu established Nozizwe Consulting to bring groups together to learn from and celebrate their differences and acknowledge their shared humanity. As part of this work she has led Truth and Reconciliation Workshops for groups dealing with conflict and has offered educational and partnership trips to South Africa. Rev. Tutu is the recipient of four honorary doctorates from universities and colleges in the US and Nigeria.  Rev. Tutu is an ordained clergy in the Episcopal Diocese of Tennessee.  She serves as a curate at Christ Church Cathedral in Nashville.

Bloodlines, Landlines and Songlines: Journey Out of Whiteness 

A workshop for white folks at Proctor, to discuss what solidarity requires of us.  Audre Lorde challenges us to “do our own work” to name, engage and heal disparities. We’ll explore how to deconstruct fictive white identities spawned by the dominant culture, and reconstruct more complex personal and political stories.  For example, we too were once immigrants: from where, how, and why?  How can revisiting our family stories generate empathy and solidarity with newer immigrants?  What did/do we walk with into our settled places (privilege and complicity in colonization?  Alienation from displacement, cultural dispossession and trauma?)  How can we be responsible to the places we walk(ed) into--their peoples, cultures and struggles for dignity?

Facilitated by Dr. Elaine Enns and Ched Myers, Co-Directors of Bartimaeus Cooperative Ministries.

Dr. Elaine Enns has been working in the field of restorative justice and conflict transformation since 1989 as victim-offender dialogue facilitator, consultant, educator and trainer She provides mediation and consultation services for individuals, churches, schools and community organizations throughout North America, and has taught at Fresno Pacific University, Canadian Mennonite University and Menno Simons College at the University of Winnipeg, Manitoba. A Canadian, she holds an MA in Theology and Peacemaking from the Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary and a DMin from Saskatoon Theological Union.

Ched Myers is an activist theologian who has worked in social change movements for 40 years. With a degree in New Testament Studies, he is a popular educator who animates scripture and issues of faith-based peace and justice, and has taught around the world. Author of over 100 articles and a half-dozen books, including Binding the Strong Man: A Political Reading of Mark’s Story of Jesus (Orbis, 1988/2008) and Our God is Undocumented: Biblical Faith and Immigrant Justice (with Matthew Colwell, Orbis, 2012), his publications can be found at Ched has co-founded several collaborative projects: the Word and World School; the Sabbath Economics Collaborative; the Center and Library for the Bible and Social Justice; and the Watershed Discipleship Alliance. Ched and Elaine Enns co-direct Bartimaeus Cooperative Ministries in southern California, and are co-authors of Ambassadors of Reconciliation: A New Testament Theology and Diverse Christian Practices of Restorative Justice and Peacemaking.

The Queer Souls of Black Folks 

From youth through adulthood, transgender, lesbian, bisexual, and gay African-Americans must overcome complex challenges to establish and secure welcoming and nourishing communities. This workshop will explore the history of the House|Ballroom community as a Black Trans-Womanist theological discourse, a freedom movement, and its spiritual formation responses to race, class, sexuality, and gender oppression. We will examine the religious community’s ability to use the art of performance as a hermeneutics of the body and situate its history in mobilizing a resistance to the oppressions faced by marginalized people of society. We will explore the multifaceted ways in which marginalized communities find self-sustaining social networks and cultural groups such as the House|Ballroom community, a Black/Latino LGBT artistic collective and intentional kinship system, to stymie the burden of stigma, violence, housing insecurity, and health challenges.

Facilitated by Michael Roberson, public health practitioner, activist, and leader within the LGBTQ community who created The Federation of Ballroom Houses and co-created the National Black Gay Men’s Advocacy Group and Rev. Dr. Teresa L. Smallwood, Esq. Postdoctoral Fellow and Associate Director of the Public Theology and Racial Justice Collaborative at Vanderbilt Divinity School.

Michael Roberson is a public health practitioner, advocate, activist and leader within the LGBTQ community and an Adjunct Professor at The New School University/Lang College, NYC.  Michael created The Federation of Ballroom Houses and co-created the National Black Gay Men's Advocacy Group and the nationally diffused CDC Behavioral Change HIV Prevention Intervention “Many Men, Many Voices.”  He is a consultant working with  national community-based organizations on national HIV clinical trial, bio-medical, and homegrown evidence-based interventions and on national community capacity building assistance and mobilization strategies to combat the disproportionate health disparities impacting both the black gay and black/Latino LGBT house ball communities. Michael earned an MDiv and Masters of Sacred Theology from Union Theological Seminary.

Rev. Dr. Teresa L. Smallwood, Esq. currently serves as Postdoctoral Fellow and Associate Director of the Public Theology and Racial Justice Collaborative at Vanderbilt Divinity School. Dr. Smallwood is licensed and ordained to public ministry and is a member at New Covenant Christian Church in Nashville, TN under the pastoral leadership of Rev. Dr. Judy Cummings. Dr. Smallwood possesses a BA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the Juris Doctor Degree from North Carolina Central University School of Law, an MDiv from Howard University, and a PhD from Chicago Theological Seminary.