Episcopal Divinity School Names Interim President Following Disaffiliation from Union Theological Seminary

New Role Follows Receipt of Prestigious Grawemeyer Award in Religion and McDonald Teaching Award

Episcopal Divinity School
Posted Apr 5, 2023

The Very Rev. Kelly Brown Douglas, who has served as Dean of the Episcopal Divinity School (EDS) since 2017, was recently selected by the EDS Board of Trustees to serve as the school’s Interim President following EDS’ recently announced disaffiliation with Union Theological Seminary (UTS). The announcement comes on the heels of Rev. Douglas receiving two prestigious awards: the 2023 Grawemeyer Award in Religion and the McDonald Teaching Award from Seminary of the Southwest.

Rev. Douglas is one of the first Black female Episcopal priests in the United States and the first Black person to head an Episcopal Church-affiliated educational institution. She received the Grawemeyer Award in Religion for her book, “Resurrection Hope: A Future Where Black Lives Matter,” which was written following Black Lives Matter protests erupting nationwide after George Floyd’s death.

“I am deeply humbled and honored by the Grawemeyer Award and the McDonald Teaching award. EDS’ mission of dismantling racism and working for social justice has taken on greater urgency. My hope is that my book and the work that EDS does will teach that faith, not despair, is the best hope for assuring Black lives are valued,” said Rev. Kelly Brown Douglas. “I’m excited to continue working with EDS through this transition and helping to bridge the gap between faith and inclusiveness.”

Rev. Douglas will lead Episcopal Divinity School as they transition into an independent venture. EDS will have the opportunity to make theological education more inclusive and accessible. As an independent institution, EDS will continue its commitment to offer church-centric theological education while adopting programs to increase accessibility to its programs and curriculum. Students will have access to flexible formats, creative pedagogies, and innovative credentialing opportunities that go beyond the traditional Master of Divinity and doctoral degrees usually associated with seminaries and divinity schools.

“As the nature of Episcopal education changes, EDS is embarking on a new course to play a leading role in the future of the church,” said the Rev. Matthew Foster Heyd, Vice-Chair and Secretary of EDS and the bishop coadjutor-elect of the Episcopal Diocese of New York. “We are thankful for Rev. Brown for helping us in the transition as EDS grow in its calling and impacts more lives.”

Douglas, who has Doctor of Philosophy and Master of Divinity degrees, has been a faculty member at Edward Waters College, Howard University and Goucher College. She has written five books, including “Sexuality and the Black Church” in which she addresses homophobia from a womanist perspective.

About Episcopal Divinity School

Episcopal Divinity School (EDS) nurtures moral leadership, focusing on theological education, spiritual formation, and community transformation. The Episcopal Divinity School was founded in 1974 by combining the Episcopal Theological School and the Philadelphia Divinity School. The mission of EDS is to increase education and understanding of the role that the church and gospel have on racial and social justice. EDS is guided by the vision and leadership of The Very Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas, a renowned African-American Episcopal priest and womanist theologian.