Linda E. Thomas, professor of theology and anthropology, has been appointed director of the Albert “Pete” Pero Jr. Multicultural Center at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago (LSTC), starting January 1, 2022.
Thomas will bring to the Pero Center a new focus on intersectional scholarship and public discourse on religion, identity and democracy.
"I am very pleased to become the new director of the Pero Center at LSTC. I look forward to bringing an intersectional lens to this center and to the possibilities of visionary ministry this center can foster," Thomas said.
Esther Menn, dean of academic affairs said, “We look forward to celebrating the re-inauguration of the Pero Center next January. Guided by the creative vision of Dr. Thomas, the Pero Center will sponsor timely conferences and contribute thought leadership for the pursuit of equity in our church and society.”
About Linda E. Thomas
Professor Thomas researches, writes, speaks and teaches about the intersection and mutual influence of theology and culture from a womanist perspective. She is particularly focused on the experience of African American women and is passionate about uncovering and exploring historical and contemporary experiences and ideologies that govern actions, policies and norms that surround race, class and gender.
A member of the LSTC faculty since 2000, and one of the leaders in developing the public church curriculum, Thomas seeks to unite the academic study of theology for the church with service/justice work in the world. She incorporates multiple teaching and learning methods in the classroom. In addition to traditional sources, she regularly uses literature, music and film to provide variety and relevance for her students.
Thomas served as dean of students at Wesley Theological Seminary, Washington, D.C., where she also taught courses on spiritual formation. She served on the faculty at Iliff School of Theology, Denver, Colo., and Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, Evanston, Ill. At Garrett she was director of the Center for the Church and the Black Experience.
A well-published scholar and sought-after speaker, Thomas has given lectures at conferences around the world. She holds a PhD in anthropology from The American University in Washington, D.C.; an MDiv from Union Theological Seminary, New York, N.Y.; and a BA from Western Maryland College.
The Albert “Pete” Pero Jr. Multicultural Center
In 2005, LSTC became home to a multicultural center sponsored by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). The Rev. Dr. Lydia Kalb was its first director, followed by the Rev. Dr. José David Rodríguez.
In 2010, the Multicultural Center, no longer supported by the ELCA, was renamed in honor of the Rev. Dr. Albert “Pete” Pero Jr., the first African American faculty member at a North American Lutheran seminary. That year, the Rev. Dr. Cheryl Stewart Pero was appointed director and served until her retirement in June 2017. Under her guidance, the Pero Center developed ethnic-specific curricular emphases corresponding to the those of the ELCA. The center also sponsored monthly ethnic and identity-focused events and worship services. Dr. Pero also offered support for students, including regular lunches for students of color.
An advisory committee was formed in 2017 to re-envision the purpose and future of the Pero Center. From 2017-2019, key multicultural programming continued through the leadership of Program Coordinator Eddie Rosa Fuentes. Volunteers Vance Blackfox and a student-led committee continued to provide leadership for the Vine Deloria Jr. Theological Symposium and Black History Month events, 2020-2021.
In 2022 the Rev. Dr. Linda E. Thomas will bring her vision and new direction to the Pero Center.
Assistant to the Dean for Academic Affairs
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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.