VTS Commemorates the Martyrdom of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.


Media Contact: Curtis Prather 
Tel: (703) 461-1782 
Email: cprather@vts.edu

(Alexandria, VA) - Virginia Theological Seminary (VTS) will commemorate the martyrdom of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on April 3 and 4 with a series of events designed to celebrate and honor his life and legacy.

"The themes of this annual two day commemoration are always important, but perhaps at this time in American history they are more important than ever," said the Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D., dean and president of VTS. "The Seminary recognizes this work of justice is fundamental and completely gospel. We have two exceptional speakers who will invite us to think ever more deeply about ourselves, our church, and our country."

Organized by the office of Multicultural Ministries at VTS, the commemoration begins on Wednesday, April 3, with keynote speaker, the Rev. Judy Fentress-Williams, Ph.D, professor of Old Testament at VTS and director of Christian Education at Alfred Street Baptist Church in Alexandria, VA, with her lecture “Remembering Dinah and her Sisters: The Black Church and the ‘Me Too’ Movement.” The event begins at 7:00 p.m. in Immanuel Chapel and is open to all. 

On Thursday, April 4, at 5:15 p.m. VTS encourages the public to join the Seminary for a special community Eucharist observing the Feast of Dr. King on the 51st anniversary of his death. The Very Rev. Kelly Brown Douglas, dean of the Episcopal Divinity School at Union Theological Seminary and professor of Theology at Union, will be our guest preacher. 
Author of Ruth (2012, Abingdon Press), Fentress-Williams received her Ph.D. in Hebrew Bible from Yale University in 1999. She earned her master's from Yale Divinity School in 1990 and her A.B. in English from Princeton University with certificates in African-American Studies and American Studies in 1984. Prior to her appointment at VTS, she was a member of the faculty of Hartford Seminary from 1994-2002 as professor of Hebrew Bible. 

"Dr. Fentress-Williams's love of the Bible is palpable," said the Rev. Joseph Thompson, Ph.D., director of Multicultural Ministries. "We all look forward to hearing her perspective on how scripture can  illuminate Dr. King's legacy."

Douglas serves as  the Canon Theologian at the Washington National Cathedral and Theologian in Residence at Trinity Church Wall Street. Prior to Union, Dean Douglas served as professor of Religion at Goucher College where she held the Susan D. Morgan Professorship of Religion and is now professor emeritus. Before that, she was associate professor of theology at Howard University School of Divinity and assistant professor of religion at Edward Waters College.
Ordained as an Episcopal priest in 1983, Douglas holds a master’s degree in theology and a Ph.D. in systematic theology from Union. She is also the author of five books including Sexuality and the Black Church: A Womanist Perspective (1999, Orbis Books) and Stand Your Ground: Black Bodies and the Justice of God (2015, Orbis Books).
Seminarians and faculty are expected to attend these events and attend formation and colloquy groups devoted to discussing the Fentress-Williams lecture on the morning of April 4. 



Founded in 1823 as a beacon of hope in a country new and finding its way, Virginia Theological Seminary has led the way in forming leaders of the Episcopal Church, including: the Most Rev. John E. Hines (VTS 1933, D.D. 1946), former presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church; the Rt. Rev. John T. Walker (VTS 1954, D.D. 1978), the first African-American bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington; and theologian, author and lay preacher Ms. Verna J. Dozier (VTS D.D. 1978). Serving the worldwide Anglican Communion, Virginia Theological Seminary educates approximately 25% of those being ordained who received residential theological education. Visit Virginia Seminary online at www.vts.edu.
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