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Auburn Seminary launches nation’s first multifaith leadership program for justice: Auburn Senior Fellows

NEW YORK — Auburn Seminary’s groundbreaking Senior Fellows program unites top leaders of faith and moral courage from Mainline Protestant, Catholic, Evangelical, Black Church, Muslim, Sikh, Jewish, and other backgrounds and faith traditions. Inspired by the multifaith work of civil rights successes in Selma and other key moments in history in which people from many […]

NEW YORK — Auburn Seminary’s groundbreaking Senior Fellows program unites top leaders of faith and moral courage from Mainline Protestant, Catholic, Evangelical, Black Church, Muslim, Sikh, Jewish, and other backgrounds and faith traditions. Inspired by the multifaith work of civil rights successes in Selma and other key moments in history in which people from many faiths found common ground, this first of its kind Fellows program will equip faith leaders working on the frontlines for justice: from a moral economy to racial equality, LGBTQ and gender rights, climate change to immigration and more.

“For nearly 200 years, Auburn Seminary has trained religious leaders,” said Auburn Seminary President the Rev. Dr. Katharine Rhodes Henderson. “Today, Auburn Seminary becomes the first leadership development and research institute in the country to launch a fellowship program to cultivate the skills of multifaith leaders working for justice. Auburn Senior Fellows program will equip top faith leaders on the frontlines for justice, working to create a world in which difference is celebrated, abundance is shared and diverse communities find the common ground needed to work together for a better future.”

Auburn is a seminary for 21st century leadership. The Fellows program provides executive coaching focused on institutional change, media access and training, digital tools to develop impactful storytelling for social change, sustainable leadership practices, and the opportunity to collaborate with other Fellows to leverage the impact of their diverse movements.

Auburn has institutionalized the Auburn Senior Fellows program to continue to equip and support a pipeline of new leaders over time. The Auburn Senior Fellows program is funded by the Henry Luce Foundation, as well as other individual and foundation donors.

Auburn’s inaugural class of Auburn Senior Fellows:

Rabbi Sharon Brous is recognized as one of the nation’s leading rabbis by Newsweek, one of The Forward’s 50 most influential American Jews, and was recently named as The Daily Beast’s #1 most influential rabbi in America. She is the founding rabbi of IKAR, a spiritual community dedicated to reanimating Jewish life through soulful religious practice that is rooted in a deep commitment to social justice.

Bishop Minerva Carcaño is a leading advocate for immigration reform in the U.S. and is the first Hispanic woman to be elected to the episcopacy of The United Methodist Church, the second-largest Protestant denomination in the U.S.

Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of NETWORK, the Catholic social justice lobby founded by Catholic Sisters, is a religious leader, attorney, and poet with extensive experience in public policy and advocacy for systemic change. NETWORK was also mentioned in the Vatican’s censure of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious for focusing their work too much on poverty, economic injustice, and support of President Obama’s health care reform, while keeping “silent” on abortion and same-sex marriage. NETWORK organized a national tour, “Nuns on the Bus: Nuns Drive for Faith, Family and Fairness.” In Washington, D.C., Sister Campbell lobbies on issues of peace-building and economic justice.

Dr. Sharon Groves is a faith organizer and strategist working at the intersection of faith, LGBTQ equality and social justice. Sharon is the former Human Rights Campaign Religion and Faith Program Director, where she doubled the Religion and Faith Program staff, built a five-year scholarship and mentorship program for LGBTQ and allied theologians and religious scholars, oversaw breakthrough conversations with conservative and moderate religious leaders nationwide to advance dialogues on faith and LGBTQ equality, and guided the mobilization of faith organizers in state advocacy work, including marriage efforts in Oregon, Illinois, Rhode Island, Maine Maryland and Washington.

The Rev. Peter Heltzel is associate professor of Systematic Theology at New York Theological Seminary, co-author of Faith-Rooted Organizing (2014), and director of the Micah Institute, a faith-rooted organizing effort in NYC of primarily black and brown evangelical communities that successfully organized a living wage campaign.

Valarie Kaur is an award-winning filmmaker, civil rights advocate, and interfaith leader who centers her work around the power of storytelling. Her religion/ ethical tradition is Sikh. She is the founder of Groundswell at Auburn Seminary, a non-profit initiative with 200,000 members that equips people of faith in social change. She has led national campaigns responding to hate crimes, racial profiling, immigration detention, marriage equality, and solitary confinement.

Rabbi Stephanie Kolin is the new Associate Rabbi at Central Synagogue in NYC. Stephanie will be working with the congregation on issues of social justice, organizing in partnership across lines of faith, race, and economic differences in order to heal suffering in our world. From 2011–2015 she co-directed Just Congregations, a community-organizing program of the Union for Reform Judaism, supporting 250 Reform Jewish congregations that participate in community organizing. Stephanie was the lead organizer for Reform CA, a statewide campaign for political change.

The Rev. Dr. Jacqueline Lewis is senior minister of Middle Collegiate Church in New York City. Lewis speaks throughout the United States on racial reconciliation, LGBTQ equality, and economic justice. She is the author of The Power Stories: A Guide for Leaders in Multi-Racial and Multicultural Congregations as well as a children’s book that celebrates diversity, entitled You Are So Wonderful! Images of Middle Collegiate Church Congregants wearing hoodies in memory of Trayvon Martin have been on the front page of the Washington Post and covered by The New York Times and ABC News.

The Rev. Michael-Ray Mathews has been a PICO National Network clergy leader since 1996, and joined the national staff in 2008. He is the director of clergy organizing and leads the Prophetic Voices Initiative, which is organizing a prophetic faith voice shaping the movement for racial and economic inclusion in the U.S.

Brian McLaren is an author, speaker, activist, and networker among innovative Christian leaders. His dozen-plus books include: “A New Kind of Christianity: Ten Questions That Are Transforming the Faith,” “A Generous Orthodoxy,” “Naked Spirituality: A Life with God in 12 Simple Words,” and “Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road?: Christian Identity in a Multi-Faith World.”

The Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III, senior pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, is a leading Christian activist and cultural critic, part of a new generation of ministers committed to preaching prophetically that the message of love and justice are inseparable companions. He is ordained in the Progressive National Baptist Convention and the United Church of Christ, carrying dual standing in both denominations.

Bishop Gene Robinson is the first openly gay man to be elected bishop in the high church traditions of Christendom. He was invited by Barack Obama to give the invocation at the inaugural ceremonies at the Lincoln Memorial in 2009. He was elected bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire on June 7, 2003, having served as Canon to the Ordinary (assistant to the bishop) for nearly 18 years. Bishop Robinson is currently a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress. Bishop Robinson has been particularly active in the area of full civil rights for the LGBTQ community.

Linda Sarsour is an outspoken community activist and executive director of the Arab American Association of New York. She is currently launching a major initiative to train and support Muslim community organizers around the U.S. Sarsour is known for her work in the areas of civil rights in the context of national security, community organizing, civic engagement, and immigrants’ rights advocacy. Most recently, Sarsour has played an important leadership role in the #BlackLivesMatter movement.

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Auburn Seminary identifies and strengthens leadersfrom the pulpit to the public squareto build communities, bridge divides, pursue justice, and heal the world.


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