Karen Georgia A. 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 was published in May 2022 and is a compilation of poems that focus on justice, hope and identity facing people of African Descent in 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.
Karen Georgia A. Thompson, “Emancipating the Conjure Woman, the Two Headed Doctor, and their Sunday Afternoon Visitors”
The exploration of liberation and liberation theologies begins with Christianity and seeks to provide liberation through the Christian narratives. Yet, Christianity and in particular the naming of Christian supremacy is problematic in the liberation of people whose oppression is rooted in the intertwined journey of colonialism and Christianity. This paper will explore liberation in the context of spiritual practices looking at the practices of indigenous communities whose practices were disrupted and shamed by Christianity and a history of mission which was destructive to cultures and peoples. The paper will hold an African Caribbean perspective.
Current conversations are focusing on reparatory justice along with culture and knowledge recovery for African descendant people and indigenous people in the Atlantic Basin. This recovery includes spiritual practices deemed problematic by Western Christianity which vilified these practices and named them as demonic and wrong for generations to come. Liberation for some African descendant people requires liberation from a white Western Christianity which leaves no room for embracing an African spirituality which may be ontological for African descendant people.
Liberation is for all who understand God outside of Christianity, and perhaps also for those who name their connections to God and their spiritual practices in multiplicity, especially when that multiple identification and multiple spiritual belonging includes indigenous practices.
For this paper, the African derived practices of African descendant people are recognized and named as indigenous African spiritualities brought into the Americas by enslaved Africans. While the paper focuses on the Caribbean context, the paper has broader application in the dialogue about the survival of indigenous spiritual practices in the midst of Christian supremacy and Christian exceptionalism.