Karen Georgia Thompson
The Rev. Dr. Karen Georgia A. Thompson is the Associate General Minister (AGM) for Wider Church Ministries (WCM) and Operations in the United Church of Christ and Co-Executive for Global Ministries with the United Church of Christ and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). She is an inspiring preacher and theologian, who shares her skills and gifts in a variety of settings nationally and internationally, often using her poetry as a part of her ministry. Rev. Thompson provides strategic visioning and leadership for the programmatic ministries of Global Ministries, Global H.O.P.E (formerly Humanitarian Aid and Development), Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations, Events and Scholarships Management and Archives. These areas include sustainable development, global advocacy, mission, humanitarian aid, ecumenical and interfaith relations and the administration of the United Church of Christ General Synod.
As the former Ecumenical Officer for the UCC she nurtured relationship with critical partners like the World Council of Churches and coordinated theological dialogues and ecumenical initiatives. She instrumental in guiding the six-year process for the United Church of Christ/United Church of Canada full communion relationship. Rev. Thompson provides leadership for the joint United Church of Canada and United Church of Christ committee working on the United Nations International Decade for People of African Descent (2015-2024) and continues to be an advocate and activist on global racial justice issues and concerns, and is a strong proponent for human rights. Her ecumenical expertise is evident in her leadership roles within the World Council of Churches (WCC) on the Central Committee and as a Thursdays In Black Ambassador, the Joint Working Group with the Roman Catholic Church (JWG), and the Commission for Education and Ecumenical Formation as the Rapporteur for the work of the commission.
Her ecumenical and interreligious commitments have overlapped with her interest and implementation of global consultations on multiple religious belonging. Her leadership in this area has created opportunities for dialogue in the church and created safe space for engaging the variety of expressions of religious multiplicity. Her doctoral dissertation was focused on research in this area, looking specifically at the ways in which African Caribbean people continue to practice African derived religious and spiritual expressions along with other religions and often times with Christianity. She is a gifted writer and poet whose writings have been published in books, journals and on-line publications. Her book of poetry Drums in Our Veins will be published soon and is a compilation of poems that focus on the injustices facing people of African Descent and the fight and desire for racial justice globally. Born in Kingston, Jamaica, her poetry and writings reflect her Jamaican heritage and culture as well as the traditions and lore of her Ancestors. Rev. Dr. Thompson earned a BA from Brooklyn College in New York; a Master of Public Administration from North Carolina Central University in Durham, NC; and a Master of Divinity from Union Theological Seminary in New York. She earned her Doctorate in Ministry at Seattle University.
“The bible as Public Good in Zambia: An African Pentecostal Feminist Critique of Sumaili’s use of the Bible in the Public Square”
The minister of national guidance and religious affairs (MNGRA) in Zambia, Rev Godfridah Sumaili, has constantly used the bible in the public to emphasize Zambia as a Christian nation. Using the bible in the public is not in itself a problem, how the bible is used and to what end calls for critical engagement. Rev Sumaili’s usage of the bible in the public seem to conflict what African women theologians- as public theologians have been arguing in terms of challenging biblical texts as being male dominated.
In this paper, I argue that African women theologians implore African women to read the bible with a sense of conscious suspicion. Rev Sumaili has negated Zambian women in the way she engages the bible in the public space. African Pentecostal Feminism argues for the hermeneutic of suspicion when women read the bible. They argue for a critical engagement with the bible and not take it literally as the word of God. Rev Sumaili uses the bible in a literal way even when she applies it to politics, a trend that is apt to Pentecostal engagement with the bible. The bible cannot be used in this simplistic sense in the public because that promotes dehumanizing discourses and oftentimes patriarchy and apartheid in South Africa shows this. There is a need for a critical engagement with the bible in African Christianity and among Pentecostals from a feminist perspective. Bible can be engaged using feminist tools that will use theories of hermeneutics of suspicion in the way the bible is interacted with in public because the bible can be a double egged sword, it can give life but it also can be life-denying. The case of Rev Sumaili is a life-denying discourse, it has reinforced male dominance over women. One of her focus during her tenure (2017-now) has been the use of the bible in relation to sexuality, not limited to LGBTIQ+ but women as well.