Courtney Cowart, Th.D.
Consultant to the Beecken Center
B.A., Philosophy, Vanderbilt University, M.A., cum laude, Ascetical Theology, The General Theological Seminary, Th.D., Anglican Studies, The General Theological Seminary
Dr. Courtney Cowart will complete her full-time service to Sewanee on April 1, but will continue on a part-time and consulting basis during the transition to a new director for the Beecken Center, as she has accepted a a new position as the executive director of SIM, the Society for the Increase of Ministry.
Cowart is a scholar in the fields of ascetical theology and American Church history whose work has explored the relationship of spiritual practice and leadership. On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, in her role as program officer for spiritual formation and development grants at Trinity Church Wall Street in New York City, Cowart hosted the Archbishop of Canterbury, and a group of spiritual formation practitioners, for the filming of a Lenten series: The Shaping of Holy Lives.
The events of the morning and their impact on Cowart’s ministries, first as a founder of the 24/7 respite center to recovery workers at St Paul’s Chapel immediately following 9/11, and four years later as founding co-director of the office of disaster response for the Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana following Hurricane Katrina, are vividly chronicled in Cowart’s book published in 2008, An American Awakening: From 9/11 to Katrina the People We Are Free To Be.
In 2010, Cowart left New Orleans to become director of congregational learning for The Fund for Theological Education in Atlanta. In this role she developed and taught congregations shared practices for shaping the next generation of Christian leadership. These practices, informed by her experiences of massive trauma, equip persons of faith to generate communities of safety, dignity, alliance, and resilience. She views the regeneration of these essentials for human thriving as central to the work of the church and its leadership, as Christians struggle against institutions and social norms that perpetuate violence and domination, and seek to establish contrasting ones supporting non-violence and peace.