2019 Matriculation welcomes new students, faculty


On August 25, 2019, Seminary of the Southwest’s incoming class – one of the largest in a decade – formally matriculated during an Evensong service at Christ Chapel. Dr. Scott Bader-Saye, academic dean, preached and the Very Rev. Cynthia Briggs Kittredge, dean and president, presided. Southwest also installed four new faculty members, Marlon Johnson, Dr. Maria Spellings, The Rev. Cheryl A. Kirk-Duggan, Ph.D, and Dr. Jennifer Owens-Jofré.

Faculty of Seminary of the Southwest

“The Matriculation was solemn and joyful as we installed our four new faculty members and honored each entering student who walked to the front of Christ Chapel to sign their name. Dean Bader-Saye’s sermon was warm and wise, a perfect message to welcome and focus us all,” said the Very Rev. Cynthia Briggs-Kittrege, dean and president.

Marlon Johnson

Johnson, installed as Instructor in Counselor Education, is a licensed professional counselor with a focus on narrative and child-centered play therapy techniques. He is currently completing his PhD in counselor education at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Johnson served as a 2018 doctoral fellow for the National Board of Certified Counselors and as the Tennessee Counseling Association’s NBCC Liaison.

“Marlon brings clinical experience in narrative and child-centered play therapy and frequently works at the intersection of LGBTQ identity and faith orientation. Students will find Marlon’s energetic style engaging both in and out of the classroom,” said Dr. Gena Minnix. Director of the Loise Henderson Wessendorff Center for Christian Ministry and Vocation and Assistant Professor of Counselor Education.

The Rev. Cheryl Kirk-Duggan, PhD

The Rev. Kirk-Duggan is this year’s Crump Visiting Professor and Black Religious Scholars Group Scholar-in-Residence. She is an Ordained Elder in the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, recipient of the SUDS Outstanding Achievement Award as International Recognized Womanist Scholar, 2016, and author of over twenty books and numerous articles, her most recent publication is Baptized Rage, Transformed Grief: I Cot through, So Can You (Wipf & Stock, 2017).  Known as professor, poet, preacher, priest, prayer partner, prophet, performer, and polyhistor, Kirk-Duggan is an avid athlete who completed her first full marathon (2010), and is a hot yoga teacher.

“I am very excited to welcome the Rev. Cheryl Kirk-Duggan. We welcome the ways she will challenge us to be a more inclusive and welcoming community for all people. The conversations that are underway promise to transform this institution,” said Kittredge.

Dr. Jennifer Owens-Jofré

Dr. Jennifer Owens-Jofré was installed as Assistant Professor of Latinx Theology and Cultures and Director of the Latinx Studies Program at Southwest. A Latina Catholic theologian, her academic writing has appeared in the International Journal of Practical Theology, and she co-edited From the Pews in the Back: Young Women and Catholicism. With ministerial experience in Catholic contexts across the United States, she also offers professional development opportunities for those in ministry. During academic years 2018–2020, she is participating in a postdoctoral fellowship through the Louisville Institute at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, where she served as visiting assistant professor of constructive theology.

“Dr. Owens-Jofré training and experience will inject new life and vision into an already robust program. We are committed to becoming the primary resource in The Episcopal Church for nurturing leadership in Latinx ministry. She is well-prepared to lead us into this vision,” said Bader-Saye.

Dr. Maria Spellings

Spellings, installed as Assistant Professor of Counselor Education, is a licensed professional counselor supervisor (LPC-S) in Texas. She has significant clinical experience in inpatient psychiatric units working with complex PTSD and trauma-related disorders. She came to Southwest from a position as full-time senior lecturer in the UNT Counseling Program, where she taught didactic courses and provided clinical supervision for master’s counseling students in multiple stages of clinical development.

“Maria brings a wealth of clinical experience working in inpatient psychiatric and outpatient settings, and has advanced training in play and filial therapy. Maria’s integration of faith and spirituality with her counseling expertise make her a wonderful asset to the program,” said Minnix.

The incoming class of Seminary of the Southwest