The Leadership Center for Social Justice seeks to equip, inspire, and empower leaders to faithfully and reflectively engage in concrete, contextual ministry for social justice. In the spirit of faith, hope, and love, the Center supports leaders in developing skills in contextually-sensitive, creative, and effective leadership and social praxis.
In addition to the Leadership for Social Justice program—a nine-month continuing education program for pastors—the Center serves as a hub for critical conversations about a range of contemporary social and political issues, offering spiritual leaders and communities of faith a place for reflective and deeply engaged continuing theological education.
LEADERSHIP FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE PROGRAM
Thanks to the generosity of the Lilly Endowment, Inc., the Center currently offers a tuition-free nine-month continuing education program in Leadership for Social Justice for congregational pastors in Minnesota and surrounding states. The program equips pastors with the skills to effectively address a broad range of social issues—including struggles for economic, racial, gender, sexual, and ecological justice— in ways that are reflective, practical, relational, and faithful. The program supports pastors in developing and/or deepening contextually-sensitive, sustainable, and community-based ministries in social justice responsive to what God is doing in our world, in our congregations, and in our communities.
Beginning fall 2022, a cohort of 16 pastors will meet twice a month (Friday mornings) from September 2022 to May 2023. In addition to earning a Certificate in Leadership for Social Justice, successful completion of the program fulfills the requirements for up to 8 credits toward United’s Doctor of Ministry degree.
2022-2023 Teaching Fellows
Amy Finnegan is a descendent of Irish settlers in Minnesota, outraged and inspired by the world we live in today. She is a mama of 4 kiddos seeking to deepen her social justice organizing practice. She is also an Associate Professor in Justice and Peace Studies at the University of St. Thomas where she teaches courses pertaining to qualitative methods, conflict transformation, social movements, sociological perspectives on health, and social justice broadly. Her research interests pertain to the white savior complex, critical race theory, dialogue, and transformative pedagogies. She is on the leadership team of EqualHealth, a global grassroots health justice collective.
Gaagigeyaashiik—Dawn Goodwin, Anishinaabe/Ojibwe Mississippi Band-White Earth, is a protector and advocate for the environment and the Anishinaabeg traditional lifeways.
She is a lifelong resident of northern Minnesota and has lived next to Lower Rice Lake on the White Earth Reservation since 2001. Dawn graduated from Bemidji State University in 2009 with a B.A. in Visual Arts and is near completion of a B.A. in Native American Studies. She is a lifelong learner and educator with employment as an academic advisor, paraprofessional, after-school childcare programming (Tri-tac award recipient), and eleven years as an Adult Basic Education teacher at White Earth Tribal Community College.
In 2009 she began to learn about the tar sands industry and climate change. This knowledge and concern for the health of our waters has led her into advocating for the protection of the lands, plants, animals, people and nibi/water for the next seven generations. She is a board member of the 1855 Treaty Authority, a trained Climate Reality Leader and a presenter at the 2019 Climate Reality Leadership Corp Training, and an executive committee board member for Sierra Club North Star Chapter. Dawn was the expert witness for the White Earth Reservation during the Line 3 MN PUC hearings.
Her work centers on networking with environmental organizations and other non-profit organizations to advocate for environmental, social, and racial justice. Dawn works as a representative of the Indigenous Environmental Network, and is a co-founder of R.I.S.E. Coalition; an indigenous led group of women calling on others to “RISE TO PROTECT ALL THAT IS SACRED”
The Rev. Hierald Osorto has a passion for stories hidden out of sight, which drives him to work collaboratively and creatively to bring those stories to light. Hierald is currently the Pastor of Saint Paul Lutheran Church/Iglesia Lutheran San Pablo, a bilingual ELCA congregation in the heart of Minneapolis, MN. Learn more about his congregation here: www.sanpablostpaul.org.
Hierald most recently served Ithaca College as the Executive Director for Student Equity & Belonging and the founding Director of Religious & Spiritual Life. At Ithaca College, he nurtured a vision of interfaith collaboration and inclusive community. His other experiences include coordinating multicultural programming at a small liberal arts college, co-moderating the young adult council for Religions for Peace, connecting students and sustainable farmers in El Salvador, and, from 2013-15, directing the national program for Lutheran Volunteer Corps, a faith-based service program for young adults of many religious and spiritual backgrounds pursuing justice. Hierald is a 2018 Masters of Divinity graduate of Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. He also received a Certificate of Study in Theology and Decolonization from the Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo, Brazil where he studied under liberation theologians: Dra. Ivone Gebara, Dr. Jung Mo Sung, and Dr. Néstor Míguez. Hierald’s name reflects his Salvadoran heritage. When you see his name in print, don’t let the “H” throw you off: just remember that the “H” is silent, like in “Hola!” Three words that describe Pastor Hierald? Intuitive, insightful innovator.
Kelly Chatman, fondly known as Pastor Kelly, is founder and executive director of the Center for Leadership and Neighborhood Engagement (CLNE) in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Pastor Kelly also serves as Advisor to the Bishop for Minneapolis Area Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
In March 2020, Chatman became the first director for the nonprofit CLNE, which works to “disrupt racism” and intentionally focus on organizational culture and community engagement. CLNE endeavors to meet people exactly where they are and mobilizes congregations and leaders as powerful neighborhood-based agents for positive social change.
Prior to launching CLNE, Chatman served for twenty years as pastor at Redeemer Lutheran Church in North Minneapolis and Executive Director of Redeemer Center. Chatman has served as college dean for equity and inclusion, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Director for Youth Ministries, teacher, coach, and chaplain at Oregon Episcopal School in Portland, Oregon. He has served on boards for Aeon Affordable Housing, Cookie Cart, Harrison Neighborhood Association, Leadership Foundation, Lutheran Social Services of Minnesota, Leadership Foundations, and Youthprise statewide youth development organization. Youth Development, and Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago.
Awards include, Portland Public School Volunteer of the Year, City of Portland Mayor’s Citizen of the Year, Tom Hunstad Award, Wheatridge Foundation.
Ned Wik Moore has over 20 years of leadership and organizing experience for racial, social, and economic justice. He graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2002 with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Global Studies. In college, he studied liberation theology, social movements, and sustainable development in Cuba, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua.
Ned is currently the Neighborhood Leadership and Organizing Program Director for the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA) at the University of Minnesota. He joined CURA staff in 2011, leading initiatives promoting racial equity and community organizing in response to the proposed build out of the regional light rail transit system in partnership with The Alliance and Nexus Community Partners.
In 2015, Ned and colleague Malik Holt-Shabazz launched Neighborhoods Now! to support and develop neighborhood organizers and leaders in place-based organizing through a racial equity lens. To date, the program has seen nearly 300 graduates, and Ned has continued to coach, support and mentor dozens of program alumni.
Ned lives in Minneapolis, is a parent and spouse, and writes music.
Nookomis (Debra Topping) is an Anishinaabe/Ojibwe (Fond du Lac Band of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe) from the Fond du Lac Reservation in northern Minnesota who fights to preserve an indigenous way of life that honors nature and keeps sacred life-giving waterways. She is also co-founder of R.I.S.E Coalition, a powerful public speaker, dedicated protester, and avid provider. Nookomis will be co-teaching with Gaagigeyaashiik.
Do I have to be serving in a traditional congregation to apply?
No. While the program has been created for congregational pastors, we are open to having participation from pastors who are serving in non-traditional contexts. In lieu of a letter from leadership in the congregation, please submit a letter of support from a conference minister or a mentor who can speak to your readiness/preparedness for taking a course to support your ministry in social justice.
What will the time commitment be? I’m tired and my plate is already full.
The program is specifically designed to fit within the life of a full-time working pastor. The commitment is two Friday mornings each month. Additional expectations will be organically connected to your ordinary work as a pastor in the particularity of your ministerial context. Think of the program as dedicating intentional time within your ordinary week for reflection, discernment, dreaming, building, and deepening you and your congregation’s ministry in social justice.
Will there be a lot of reading, writing, and assignments? I’ve already got weekly sermons to write and newsletters to prepare!
Reading will be kept to a minimum and all assignments will be designed to meet the needs of your particular context. The final project will be directly connected to the development and/or deepening of your contextual ministry in social justice.
What issues will you focus on?
The program will cover a broad range of issues—including struggles for ecological, gender, sexual, economic and racial justice—but will do so ways that are sensitive to the interconnectedness and contextual complexity of these struggles, the deep structural dimensions of historical injustice, with a special focus on building power and solidarity in the communities in which we live and serve to mobilize and sustain, concrete and collective praxis-oriented action.
There are no costs? Wait, really? Come on, what’s the catch?!
It’s true—the program is absolutely free! There is no catch and we are just as thrilled about it as you are.
Is the program only for pastors in Minnesota and surrounding states?
No. While our focus in this first cohort is on pastors serving in Minnesota and surrounding states, we are open to applications from pastors who are serving in any region.
Can I participate virtually?
Yes, the course will be offered in a hybrid format (virtual and in-person). We encourage local participants to attend in-person on the campus of United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities, but this will not be a requirement.
When does the program begin?
The program begins on Friday morning, September 9, 2022. Our second class session will be held on the morning of September 23. We will be posting a full calendar in the coming weeks.
Ry O. Siggelkow (he/him/his) is the director of the Leadership Center for Social Justice. He earned his PhD in Theology and Ethics from Princeton Theological Seminary and previously served as the director of Initiatives in Faith & Praxis at the University of St. Thomas where he taught courses at the intersection of race, class, and gender with a focus on migration, the abolition of borders, and theologies of liberation. An ordained Mennonite minister and former pastor of Faith Mennonite Church (Minneapolis), Ry has been actively involved in grassroots community organizing for several years alongside Spanish-speaking undocumented people. He is co-founder of Pueblos de Lucha y Esperanza (Peoples of Struggle and Hope), a faith-based, women-centered, and immigrant-led organization that seeks to build power in the community so that all people have a place to belong, a place to stay, and a place to grow.
Stella Pearce (she/her/hers) is the Administrative Assistant for the Leadership Center for Social Justice. Stella completed her Bachelor’s degree in Integrated Social Sciences at the University of Washington. Her past work experience includes teaching a literacy level English class for newly arrived refugees, nannying a couple of creative and energetic kids and, most recently, working as a clinic coordinator at the Minnesota Birth Center. These experiences in school and work have led her to feel passionate about creating safe and equitable spaces for all people.
The Leadership Center for Social Justice currently collaborates with Convergence to assess and evaluate the impact of the Leadership for Social Justice program on congregational vitality.
Dr. Justin Sabia-Tanis, Assistant Professor of Christian Ethics and Social Transformation and Program Director for Social Transformation
Dr. Gary Green, Assistant Professor of Pastoral Theology and Social Transformation
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