Revitalizing Urban Ministry in Theological Education


A city isn’t just a place to live, to shop, to go out and have kids play. It’s a place that implicates how one derives one’s ethics, how one develops a sense of justice, how one learns to talk with and learn from people who are unlike oneself, which is how a human being becomes human.[1]

Cities are always made by mobility – or, as in current parlance, by flows – of people, money, goods and signs. They combine, for this reason, paradoxical extremes of wealth and poverty, familiarity and strangeness, home and abroad. Cities are where new things are created and from which they spread across the world. A city is both a territory and an attitude, and perhaps this attitude is culture.[2]

[1] Richard Sennett, “The Civitas of Seeing,” Places: A Quarterly Journal of Environmental Design 5:4 (1989): 84.

[2] United Nations Human Settlements Programme, The State of the World’s Cities 2004/2005: Globalization and Urban Culture (London and Sterling, VA: Earthscan / UN-Habitat, 2004), 10.


The Center for the Study and Practice of CSPUR Logo revised2_cwhUrban Religion (C-SPUR) at New York Theological Seminary has received a grant from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations to support a three-year project intended to help revitalize the study and practice of urban ministry in theological education in North America. The grant will enable C-SPUR to convene a series of consultations around the USA that will explore theological reflection on cities and emerging practices in urban ministry. C-SPUR will also be looking at the degree to which the urban context is being addressed in the curriculum of accredited schools of theological education throughout North America. Integrating scholarship and practice, and drawing upon a range of academic disciplines, faith traditions, and urban institutions, the project seeks to open new models for urban learning and leadership training, and provide new resources for teaching urban ministry in theological education today that reflect more inclusive concerns and commitments. Among these new resources that C-SPUR will be focusing on are those addressing ministry in a multifaith context, and religion and sustainability in urban contexts. These various efforts will converge in a national conference on revitalizing theology and practice for urban ministry that will be held in May 2016 in New York City, convened by C-SPUR and other partnering institutions.


The four regional consultations being tentatively planned are at:

  • The Seminary Consortium for Urban Pastoral Education (SCUPE) in Chicago, IL, tentatively scheduled for October 30-31, 2014
  • The New Theological Seminary of the West, located in Pasadena, CA, tentatively scheduled for November 20-21, 2014
  • Perkins School of Theology at SMU, in Dallas, TX, to be scheduled for spring 2015
  • Wesley Theological Seminary, in Washington, DC, to be scheduled for spring 2015.


Leading the project from C-SPUR are:

  • Dr. Moses O. Biney, Assistant Professor of Religion and Society and Director of Research, C-SPUR
  • Rev. Lori Hartman, Director Development and Administration, C-SPUR
  • Mr. John Ducksworth, Research Fellow, C-SPUR


Joining them from the NYTS faculty are:

  • Dr. Efrain Agosto, Professor of New Testament, former Dean at Hartford Seminary, and former Director of the Center for Urban Ministerial Education in Boston
  • Dr. Kirkpatrick Cohall, Vice President and Academic Dean, and Senior Pastor of the Lenox Road Baptist Church in Brooklyn
  • Dr. Eleanor Moody-Shepherd, Dean of Students and Professor of Women’s Studies
  • Dr. Dale Irvin, President and Professor of World Christianity
  • Dr. Rebecca Radillo, Emerita Professor of Pastoral Care and Community Ministry
  • Dr. Alfred Johnson, Research Professor in Urban Ministry and Leadership


The following persons from other institutions are part of the wider leadership group serving as an advisory council to the project:

  • Dr. Charles Amjad-Ali, Dean of the Seminary Consortium for Urban Pastoral Education (SCUPE), Chicago
  • Dr. Katie Day, Charles A. Scheiren Professor of Church and Society and Director, Metropolitan/Urban Concentration, Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia
  • Rev. Joel Gibson, Director of Faith Based Services, Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, NYC
  • Dr. Alice Hunt, President and Associate Professor of Hebrew Bible & Theological Education, Chicago Theological Seminary
  • Ms. Jennifer Jones Austin, Esq., Chief Executive Officer, Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, NYC
  • Dr. Pamela Lightsey, Associate Dean for Community Life and Lifelong Learning, Clinical Assistant Professor of Contextual Theology and Practice, Boston University School of Theology
  • Rev. Dr. Ivan Pitts, Senior Pastor, Second Baptist Church, Santa Ana, CA, and Trustee, New Theological Seminary of the West
  • Dr. Doug Powe, James C. Logan Chair in Evangelism and Professor of Urban Ministry, Wesley Theological Seminary
  • Dr. Lester Edwin Ruiz, Director of Accreditation and Institutional Evaluation, Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada
  • Dr. Helene Slessarev-Jamir, Mildred M. Hutchinson Professor of Urban Ministries, Claremont School of Theology
  • Rev. Phil Tom, Director of the Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, the US Department of Labor


For more information contact Rev. Lori Hartman, C-SPUR at NYTS, 475 Riverside Drive, Suite 500, New York, NY 10115; (212) 870-1211; or



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