The College Theology Society

 Serving Church and Academy Since 1954


Sixty-Eighth Annual Convention 2022

June 2-5, 2022

“Why We Can’t Wait”: Racism and the Church

College Theology Society 2022 Annual Convention and Volume

Catherine Punsalan-Manlimos (University of Detroit Mercy)

Tracy Sayuki Tiemeier (Loyola Marymount University)

Elisabeth T. Vasko (Duquesne University)


We live in a fractured and racially-divided America. Killings of Black persons of all genders like Trayvon Martin (2012), Eric Garner (2014), Michael Brown Jr. (2014), Ahmaud Arbery (2020), Breonna Taylor (2020), Dominique Fells (2020), George Floyd (2020), and Daunte Wright (2021); the mainstreaming of White nationalism seen in the Charlottesville Unite the Right rally (2017); the dehumanization of migrants in overcrowded and unsafe conditions, their children separated; voter suppression bills; the resurgence of anti-Asian and antisemitic sentiment in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic; these are only a few examples of the extent to which racism persists in America today.


Not only are overt racism and racially motivated hate crimes on the rise in the United States; racism persists in deeper, less obvious ways. Subtle acts of exclusion or avoidance, racial “jokes” and stereotyping, implicit racial bias, and racialized microaggressions are all acts of covert racism propping up racist structures and seeping into every facet of society, including the religious life. Racism is tearing our community apart; it rips the fabric of the social order at personal and public levels.


As Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stated so powerfully over a half a century ago (in his Why We Can't Wait, from which we've drawn our theme), “the judgment of God is upon the church as never before.” While scholars of color and their allies have developed significant work that sheds greater light on the sin of racism and draws theological richness from experiences of communities of color, it has remained peripheral in the academy, church, and world. Moreover, Rev. Dr. King expressed greater frustration over the “shallow understanding of people of good will” than the “absolute misunderstanding of people of ill will.” Indeed, many scholars of “good will” remain unable to acknowledge or confront the entrenchment of White supremacy in themselves, their communities, and their institutions. Theologians and scholars of religion must take on the difficult process of self-examination and articulation of complicity in the sin of racism, as well as work in all areas of thought and practice in order to develop a faith defined by racial justice. We cannot wait.


We invite papers that take collaborative, interdisciplinary approaches to the convention theme, “‘Why We Can’t Wait’: Racism and the Church.” In particular, we invite papers and sessions that speak to the convention goals of: 1) centering marginalized racial and ethnic voices; 2) providing the space for the society to contend with and understand its Whiteness in a productive way; and 3) revitalizing attention to embodied pedagogy. We are particularly interested in constructive and reconstructive approaches to the convention theme. Constructive work can be done in all areas of religious thought and practice, though it requires careful attention to the bias and privilege of the scholar, the voices and sources centered, and serious commitment to praxis. In this work together, it is essential to be in robust conversation with the vibrant body of scholarship and expertise of those who have already begun this task.


We encourage members and CTS sections to work together creatively. CTS sections may choose to collaborate on their sessions; papers and presentations may be co-authored; individual papers may bring together multiple disciplines in addressing the convention theme. This would encourage the type of interdisciplinary constructive thinking that we believe is necessary to address racism today.


Plenaries (not necessarily in this order; more info to follow)


      Whiteness, White Christian Privilege, and the Academy


      SimonMary Aihiokhai (University of Portland)

      Karen Enriquez (Loyola Marymount University)

      Karen Teel (University of San Diego)



      “I Can’t Breathe”: Racism and the Church, Past and Present


      Shawnee Daniels-Sykes (Mount Mary University)

      Cecilia Moore (University of Dayton)

      Melissa Pagán (Mount Saint Mary’s University)



      Recentering the Theological Canon: The Future of Theological Education


      Emilie Townes (Vanderbilt Divinity School)



Scholars who are invited to present their work at a national convention of the College Theology Society must be current members of the CTS in order to appear in the program.  No person may submit more than one proposal for consideration nor will submissions to multiple sections be considered.  Failure to observe these policies may result in the scholar's disqualification to present a paper at the Annual Convention.

The National Association of Baptist Professors of Religion will once again be joining us this year.

Further questions about our 2022 Annual Convention can be submitted by email to Dan Rober.

The College Theology Society is a registered, non-profit professional society and a Related Scholarly Organization of the American Academy of Religion.


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