New Class Welcomed; Jones, Tomlinson Installed as Faculty at Matriculation

On September 9, 2018, the incoming class at Seminary of the Southwest formally matriculated during an Evensong service at Christ Chapel. Dr. Scott Bader-Saye, acting dean and president, preached. Southwest also installed two new faculty members, the Rev. Melanie Jones and Dr. Steven Tomlinson in their newly created faculty roles. The Rev. Daniel Joslyn-Siemiatkoski, acting academic dean, presided over the matriculation and the faculty installation.

Tomlinson, who has taught at Southwest in a variety of roles over the past several years, formally becomes associate professor of leadership and administration. Jones becomes the first Crump Visiting Professor and Black Religious Scholars Group Scholar-in-Residence.

Jones’ 2018–2019 year at Southwest inaugurates a five-year program announced last spring that will invite selected scholars to join with faculty in forming leaders of conversations across boundaries of race and ethnicity. Teaching required courses and electives and contributing to community life and worship, Jones and her successors will empower the SSW community to live into the promise that diversity and reconciliation hold for all of God’s people.

“Melanie’s installation as our first BRSG Crump Visiting Professor marks a pivotal point in our commitment to explore race and racism in our culture,” Bader-Saye said. “Our goal is to prepare students who will work for racial reconciliation and repair in the church and in the world.”

Jones is a womanist ethicist, millennial preacher, and intellectual activist. As an emergent scholar in theological education advocating for social transformation in the church, classroom, and global community, Jones was recruited to serve on the BRSG executive board. In her role as the BRSG director of social media and public outreach, she has poised herself as a leading millennial voice with a global public platform teaching in lecture halls and preaching in pulpits across the globe. Her extensive teaching experience ranges from undergraduate teaching to graduate and seminary teaching in both face-to-face and online courses in humanities, theology, ethics, gender/sexuality studies and writing.

“The Installation of the first Crump Visiting Professor and Black Religious Scholar-in-Residence at Seminary of the Southwest affirms SSW’s intentional commitment toward greater justice and mercy in the Episcopal branch of the Jesus movement. It marks an institutional recognition that diverse ideas and experiences must shape seminary formation not only in the seats but also from the lecterns. I take great joy in joining this community and embrace the transformation this position will engender for my teaching, scholarship, and activism,” said Jones.

Jones is the co-curator of the #MillennialWomanism editorial forum hosted on the recently launched Black Theology Project site. Her writings and sermons are accessible to scholars, students, and the general society, and have been featured widely in popular digital and print publications, including The Feminist Wire, Chicago Theological Seminary Challenge & Response Magazine, The Forum for Theological Exploration Blog, Alpha Kappa Alpha Ivy Leaf Magazine, Sunday School Publishing BoardNational Baptist Convention, USA, Urban Ministries, Incorporated, Urban Faith App and ROHO. She is a third-generation Baptist preacher and the youngest ordained clergywoman at South Suburban M. B. Church in Harvey, IL, where she serves as associate minister and leads the women’s ministry. She earned a bachelor of arts in economics and political science from Howard University and a master of divinity with a certificate in Black church studies from Vanderbilt University Divinity School. Currently, she is a Ph.D. candidate at Chicago Theological Seminary, and she was recently named a 2017–2018 doctoral dissertation fellow by the Louisville Institute.

Tomlinson holds a Ph.D. in Economics from Stanford University. He coaches and consults with Wall Street, Fortune 500 and high-tech start up executives and managers on leadership and communication strategy. He is a founding master teacher at the Acton School of Business for Entrepreneurship. He taught economics and finance at The University of Texas at Austin for 17 years, where he designed and directed the MBA professional development program. He has been an adjunct professor of pastoral ministry at Seminary of the Southwest, teaching in the MAPM program. He is also an accomplished playwright and performer. His award-winning solo shows have been produced in Austin and off-Broadway.