If you're like me, you often spend far too much time trying to figure out the impulses that guide both the big and small choices you make in life.  Going back to Africa to witness the beauty of the people and the raw strength of their character helped me understand why I'm an educator as well as the source of my stamina and creativity.  It also helped me understand how my struggles today are nested in an age-old drama. ABOVE:  The Male Dungon, where 200 men were housed at a single time, with only the small holes you see for air and light.  Imagine spending 6 weeks here.  sigh.

 

Sankofa: 

Looking Back in Order to Go Forward

The letter from African Ancestory.com arrived in my mailbox in May.  DNA test tell me that my maternal ancestors lived in Cameroon.  With that news, my journey began.  

I was part of the Religious Education team for my group of 18 Unitarian Universalist folks , 16 of which are of African ancestory and the other two are Europeans in long-term relationships with two folks in our group.  As such, I had to do a fair amount of research in order to help our colleagues prepare for the spiritual journey ahead of us.  Now, having gone and returned, I can echo the words of our former UUA President Bill Sinkford who said upon his return, "I'll never be the same."  He was right.  Scroll over the picture box below to see more images. 

 

I, along with fellow traveller, Taquiena Boston, was asked to share a personal reflection on the trip at a worship service at General Assembly in July 2014.  You can hear my remarks here. [Note:  my presentation begins at the 47:00 minute of the video.]

ON MY PLATE...

MARK'S UPCOMING EVENTS 

CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT

 

 Creating Theology Together.  

Our newest curriculum is a learning exercise that invites individuals to not only identify their theological commitments, but to do so in the company of others who may or may not share your same beliefs.  Led by ministers and religious educators,  to inform & shape a public theology that grounds our faithful actions in the world.  Curriculum launch:  June 2019.

 

Gathering Our Selves: Faith Formation for the Melanin Majority. Based on the ourcome of my work over the last five years, it's clear to me that the human and faith development of people of color in  primarly White cultural context can cause psycho-spiritual distress among non-dominant cultural groups.   Gathering Ourselves reverses that trend and orients participants toward flourishing ways of thinking, feeling, and being.

 

 

 

 

 

 

LECTURES/CONFERENCES

UUA Commission on Instituional Change.  Walnut Creek, CA   Oct. 1-3

 

Race and Formation as a Family Matter.   Eno River, Durham, NC. Oct 19-21.

 

 

Keynote:  Tools for The Shift: Foundational Insights for Transformive Communities"  Mosiac Makers National Conference.  San Diego, CA.  Oct. 28-31.


Workshop: Gathering Our Selves Spiritual Direction for People of Color.   CENTER Institute for Excellence in Ministry.  Jan 22-26, 2818

 

 

 

 

RELIGIOUS EDUCATION

 

 

Liberal Religious Educators Association, Fall Conference.  Houston, TX  Nov. 2-5

 

Multicultural Congregations as Faith Formation (with Rev. Kierstin Homblette Allen).  All Souls Church and The Church of the Restoration.   October 28-Nov 2.  Tulsa, Oklahoma

 

 



 

RESEARCH

 

 

 

 

Just published!   "Religious Education and the Traditions," in The Oxford Handbook on Religion and Higher Education (2018).  The article is a review of the history, trends and practices employed by religious workers in transmitting religiosity to its faithful. The chapter is also an excellent resource for teachers and those curious about exploring how faith formation “works” as well as the role specific teaching practices. The handbook features preeminent scholars from the fields of religion (some excellent scholarship on faith formation!) education, law, and political science to craft a comprehensive survey and assessment of the study of religion and education in the United States

 

 

 

 

BELOVED CONVERSATIONS RETREATS

ChicagoLand BC Retreat, Oak Park, IL (Unity Temple); Nov 16-17

 

Cedar Lane, Maryland; January 18-19

 

San Luis Obispo, CA; Feb 1-2

 

All Souls, Unitarian, Washington, DC Feb. 22-23

 

 

 

 

 

 

October 2013 was an extrordinary month for many reasons.  Stll hard to put it all into context but I was joined by 18 Unitarian Universalists from my home congregation to connect our African American identities back to Africa.   Titled, “Sankofa: Looking Back in Order to Move Forward,” pilgrimage to Ghana, site of the slave castles that were the point of departure for The Middle Passage.  A few insights from my journey are posted here.

SANKOFA
LOOKING BACK/MOVING FORWARD

 

Laughter Required

Sharing a light moment with my colleague in religious education, Nikevia Thomas.