We’re Off and Running!!

Just met for our first session of Bible in The Public Square yesterday evening! Dr. Gafney did a great introductory presentation entitled “The Bible Says,” giving an overview of how the Bible intersects with the Public Square and how we- as emerging clergy and public theologians – can contribute informed perspectives on the Bible to ongoing public conversations on pressing issues affecting our common good. 

For our initial blog entries, we are all introducing ourselves and our interests. Here’s mine:

Hello everyone. This is Yvonne Lembo, your classmate in The Bible in the Public Square, signing in.

Like you, I’m a graduating Sr. I started my studies in the Fall of 2008 and look forward to receiving my M.Div on May 21, 2013. I have an ecumenical Christian background and ministry experience. My family roots are in the African American Pentecostal movement, including the Church of God in Christ, where I was recently consecrated as an Evangelist Missionary. I’ve been part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America since 2006, and am currently in candidacy for rostered mnistry with the ELCA (Southeastern PA Synod). I’ve served in a variety of denominational and cross cultural settings over the past several decades from Quaker to conservative evangelical to Black Baptist to mainline Protestant.

In ministry, my passions are mission development/church planting, music and worship arts (from liturgical to contemporary urban gospel), pastoral counseling, Christian formation and intercessory prayer.

In the public square, I’m concerned about:

1. Mental illness and substance abuse. On this topic, I’m following and support Patrick Kennedy’s new Smart Approaches to Marijuana advocacy initiative (www.learnaboutsam.com/).
I have a personal stake in this issue as my 23-year-old son is struggling with mental illness triggered and exacerbated by cannabis addiction.

2. Gun violence and mass incarceration. I’m a devotee of activist Michelle Alexander, author of 
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in an Age of Colorblindness (www.newjimcrow.com), an avid supporter of Dean Trulear’s Healing Communities Prison Ministry and Reentry project (www.healingcommunitiesusa.org), and a participant in Heeding God’s Call, a faith-based movement to prevent gun violence (www.heedinggodscall.org).

In the intersection between church and public square, I’m concerned about the causes and consequences of sexual misconduct and power abuse involving clergy. I have a personal stake in this issue as well, having experienced this devastation in my family, past congregation and denominations, where sexual misconduct and power abuse seem to be endemic and pandemic. A provocative blog on this topic is here: cogicabusewatch.wordpress.com/. I’m in the midst of devouring a book on this topic: Understanding Clergy Misconduct in Religious Systems: Scapegoating, family secrets and the abuse of power. (Candace R. Benyei, PhD. New York: The Haworth Pastoral Press, 1998)

Theologically, I’m an emerging womanist theologian and my voice on the aforementioned church and public issues comes from a womanist perspective.

I started an external wordpress blog to post some of my work for this course. You can find it here: https://ylembo.wordpress.com/.

More general posts are on my facebook page:http://www.facebook.com/yvonne.lembo

Looking forward to our work together this semester!

Thanks, Dr. Gafney, for the upcoming classes on gun violence and mental illness! Looking forward to engaging with your biblical framework for these difficult issues which are prominent in our national conversation these days.

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