In late July, Denise Rector, who began her PhD studies at the Lutheran School of Chicago (LSTC) this past academic year, will be part of a three-person PhD panel at the Association of Teaching Theologians (ATT) convocation at Augustana College in Rock Island, Ill. The theme of the convocation is “Unearned Privilege as Cheap Grace.”
The theme borrows from Dietrich Bonhoeffer and recent work on white privilege and contemporary liberation movements. Bonhoeffer opened Discipleship with the stark but subtle distinction between costly grace and cheap grace. Explained the ATT, “…our contemporary word for ‘cheap grace’ is privilege—white privilege, male privilege, straight/cis-gender privilege, able-bodied privilege, North American privilege, Christian privilege.”
Keynote speakers and workshop leaders will help participants think through the critical distinction between God’s unmerited grace and America’s unearned privilege in its many forms in order that the church more faithfully embody Jesus’s calling to discipleship, to justice and to become the beloved community.
The ATT is committed to communal theological reflection in service of the ELCA, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada and the church catholic. Members of the association serve as teachers of the church.
Rector has also been accepted to the 2019 Forum for Theological Educators (FTE), which will meet Nov. 20-22 in San Diego. This gathering is designed to provide doctoral students of color with opportunities for networking, professional development, vocation exploration and mentoring.
This summer she has also been interning at the ELCA churchwide offices for the ELCA Journal of Lutheran Ethics (JLE).
“Reverend Rector comes to LSTC’s Advanced Degree program with brilliance and maturity. She’s a renaissance woman!” said the Rev. Dr. Linda E. Thomas, professor of Theology and Anthropology and her advisor. “How else could she could she intern for JLE, present on a PhD panel for the Association for Teaching Theologians and be accepted into a prestigious mentoring program almost simultaneously? She’s awesome and I’m thrilled as her advisor. What a gift Reverend Rector is to the Church!”
Rector, who is from Kansas City, Mo., received her master of divinity degree from Wartburg Theological Seminary (Dubuque, Iowa), but decided not to pursue ordination. When LSTC Communications & and Marketing featured her in a series of new students, she told about growing up in a fundamentalist, Pentecostal/Baptist church that left her running from God and the church. But with her best friend, she ventured into an ELCA church “that preached grace.” When she eventually made her way to communion, all she could do was sob. “I found the grace that was waiting for me and here I am,” she said.
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The Lutheran School of Theology (LSTC) is dedicated to bearing witness to the good news of Jesus Christ. Based in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood, it is the leading urban Lutheran seminary training students for purposeful vocations in the global community. Aligned with its Lutheran heritage and built on a foundation of intellectual rigor, LSTC’s innovative, nationally recognized curriculum gives students skills for visionary Christian leadership in the public sphere.