March 23, 2023 | by Hallie Fryd
Black queer theology is about “finding oneself in the All Mighty and loving yourself completely at all your intersections,” according to Roland Stringfellow, the managing director of Pacific School of Religion’s (PSR) Center for LGBTQ and Gender in Religion (CLGS), and coordinator of CLGS’s African American Roundtable.
Led by Stringfellow, CLGS will host two marquee events exploring Black queer theology in April — the Souls A’Fire 8 Conference and the 16th John E. Boswell Lecture.
On Thursday, April 20th Rev. Dr. Pamela Lightsey, a cutting-edge author, church, and academic leader will headline the John E. Boswell Lecture. Dr. Lightsey’s lecture, The Big Lie and its Old Hatred will show how Black queer bodies are used to leverage the aspirations of political candidates, church leaders, and elites and illustrate the ways propaganda is damaging the gains made by the civil and LGBTQ+ rights movements. While the primary focus will be on the lives of Black, queer women, Lightsey will spotlight why everyone who believes in freedom and liberation must see this ‘old hatred’ as a danger to all humanity.
Lightsey will also play a prominent role at the biennial Souls A’Fire Conference taking place online just two days later, the weekend of April 22-23rd. The mission of Souls A’Fire, organized by CLGS’s African American Round Table, is to elevate the next generation of Black queer theology while also creating an inclusive space to come together in community through ritual, praise, and worship. Historically, the format for Souls A’Fire has been to provide a platform for emerging scholars, or fellows, to present current work related to the intersections of African American culture, the church, and LGBTQ+ identity and put them in conversation with seasoned theologians, or respondents.
To celebrate their 20th anniversary, Souls A’Fire is bringing back two previous fellows, Rev. Kyndra Frazier, and Rev. Terence Mayo, to see how their ideas have evolved over the years and if they’ve stood the test of time. Frazier will revisit her Souls A’Fire 4 presentation, “Encountering Psychosis: Mental Health, Religiosity, and Queer Identity,” and Mayo will revisit his Souls A’Fire 7 presentation, “Liberating our Black Queer Divinity and Minds.” Lightsey and Marvin K. White, PSR alumnx and Minister of Celebration at the historic GLIDE Church in San Francisco, will serve as this year’s respondents.
The weekend will end with Stringfellow, who is also the Senior Pastor of Metropolitan Community Church Detroit, leading worship at GLIDE Memorial Church. On the importance of these events, Stringfellow said, “CLGS boldly incorporated the African American Roundtable when the Center was established in 2000. Professor Mary Ann Tolbert, our first executive director, recognized the importance of having more than just White queer voices and perspectives guiding this important work. This deep history of engagement is why we’re able to bring together such an influential group of Black queer theologians for these two cutting-edge events.”
Register Now for These Online Events
John E. Boswell Lecture with Rev. Dr. Pamela Lightsey — April 20th, 4 pm PT
Souls A’Fire 8: A Gathering for Black Queer Theology — April 22, 12 pm PT, and April 23rd, 11 am PT
Hallie Fryd, she/her, serves as Director of Communications with the Pacific School of Religion