The Rt. Rev. Phoebe Roaf, a lifelong Episcopalian, grew up in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. Following her work as a public policy analyst and an attorney, she was ordained in the Diocese of Louisiana. She served as associate rector of Trinity Episcopal Church in New Orleans and rector of St. Philip’s Episcopal Church in Richmond, Virginia, prior to her ordination and consecration as the fourth Bishop of West Tennessee on May 4, 2019. Roaf graduated from Virginia Theological Seminary in 2008 and currently serves as vice-chair of their Board of Trustees. She enjoys reading, taking long walks, listening to live music, and spending time with family and friends.
The 2021 Alumni Lectures & Homecoming took place on Sept. 28–30. The guest lecturers were the Rt. Rev. Phoebe Roaf, bishop of the Diocese of West Tennessee, the Rt. Rev. Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows, bishop of the Diocese of Indianapolis, and the Rt. Rev. Eugene Taylor Sutton, bishop of the Diocese of Maryland.
The Rt. Rev. Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows
The Language of Dismantling White Supremacy: Intentional Words for Intentional Witness
Word choice matters deeply to the gospel work of dismantling the sinful and systemic systems of racial oppression. Bishop Baskerville-Burrows will speak about her experience as a Black woman leading a majority-White diocese through a period of racial justice reckoning in the name of the Word made flesh, Jesus. She will share how defining the words shapes the work in the Diocese of Indianapolis as they create spaces where people can bring their real and vulnerable selves to the work of dismantling systems of injustice.
You can view the video of this lecture here: https://vimeo.com/manage/videos/620273577
The Rt. Rev. Phoebe Roaf
Addressing Racial Reconciliation in Different Contexts
Roaf will focus on the promises contained in our baptismal covenant as guiding principles for our collective response to racism within the Church and society. As Baskerville-Burrows’ context in Indianapolis is very different from Roaf’s context in Memphis, she will explore how these two dioceses are addressing the question of racial reconciliation and becoming beloved community.
You can view the video of this lecture here: https://vimeo.com/manage/videos/620334636
The Rt. Rev. Eugene Taylor Sutton
Four Steps to Becoming a Racially-Reconciled Church
Fifty years after the Civil Rights Era, have we as a Church and society made as much progress in racial justice and reconciliation as we had hoped? Recent polls consistently reveal a pessimism and hardening of racial attitudes among many Americans. Given our well-documented collusion with the forces of slavery, segregation and injustice, can The Episcopal Church lead the way toward becoming a more racially-reconciled community that faithfully reflects the values of the reign of God? In his presentation, Bishop Sutton will lead us in reflecting on these issues, and will suggest concrete ways that we as a Church can shape a brighter future.
You can view the video of this lecture here: https://vimeo.com/manage/videos/620361095
You can view the video of the conversation with the three bishops, hosted by Dean Turrell here:
Wednesday's Alumni Eucharist
It included the installation of the dean and the conferring of honorary degrees. The video of this service can be viewed here: https://vimeo.com/manage/videos/619314772
- Workshop 1: Confederate Symbols in Episcopal Parishes: Leading for Change, led by the Rev. Kellan Day and the Rev. Dr. David Stark
Description: Confederate symbols, names, memorials, and plaques decorate Episcopal parishes across the country. This workshop will equip parish clergy and leaders to uncover the theology of the symbols in or around their sacred spaces, analyze those symbols through visual rhetorical methods, and engage best leadership and preaching practices for transforming their congregation and sacred space. Participants are encouraged to bring examples of Confederate imagery from their own context for small group discussion.
Workshop 2: Death and Resurrection in Small, Struggling Parishes, led by the Rev. Dr. Julia Gatta
Description: Many parishes today face a diminishing number of members—a situation that brings in its train loss of revenue, energy, and sometimes, hope. This workshop, a combination of presentation and participant discussion, seeks to help pastors of such congregations find faithful options for going forward, including revitalization, moving to part-time or bi-vocational clergy, merger, and yoking. It will discuss when a parish may need to close and how to oversee that process. Participants will be limited to 20 to enhance in-person, candid conversation.
- Workshop 3: Are holy lives evidence of God? led by the Rev. Dr. Robert MacSwain
Description: Most religious people naturally hold that their beliefs about God are true, but rarely consider what evidence or reason might support them. Many philosophers or theologians who consider this question would point to the nature of the created order, or to personal religious experiences. But some influential figures such as Rowan Williams and Sarah Coakley have suggested that the best evidence for God is found in those holy lives often known as "saints," which term here extends beyond officially canonized figures to include a much broader range of individuals, perhaps even those we have actually met. In this workshop, MacSwain will share the preliminary results of his research into this question, drawing on material from his forthcoming book The Saint is Our Evidence: The Hagiological Argument for the Existence of God.