Southwest announces 2020-21 Crump Visiting Professor and Black Religious Scholars Group Scholar-in-Residence


The Rev. Yolanda Norton appointed to serve in the position created by the partnership between Southwest and Black Religious Scholars Group

Seminary of the Southwest, and the Black Religious Scholars Group, Inc. (BRSG) announce that the Rev. Yolanda Norton will be the Crump Visiting Professor and Black Religious Scholars Group Scholar-in-Residence for the 2020-2021 academic year at Seminary of the Southwest. Norton will be the third visiting scholar as part of the five-year partnership between Southwest and BRSG.

“As our third Black Religious Scholars Group Crump Visiting Professor, Rev. Norton brings to us her expertise in the Hebrew Bible and her passion for forming students in service of the church. As part of her teaching, she will introduce our students to diverse hermeneutical approaches to scripture, including a course on The Bible and Black Culture,” said Dr. Scott Bader-Saye, Academic Dean at Seminary of the Southwest.

In a response to the call issued by The Most Rev. Michael Curry for the church to focus on evangelism and racial reconciliation, as well to address needs expressed by Southwest students and graduates, the Crump Visiting Professor and Black Religious Scholars Group Scholar-in-Residence position was created in recognition that our communities are living in a time of racially motivated hostility that has created a new urgency in addressing issues of race in Seminary of the Southwest’s theological training.

“The Black Religious Scholars Group is truly excited to be in deep solidarity with Seminary of the Southwest at this time fraught with anxiety and apathy–a time that calls on religious scholars and clergy to respond with relevance and responsibility. As an emerging biblical scholar, millennial womanist and preacher-activist, Rev. Yolanda Norton exemplifies this call. Her work is well poised and evenly yoked to our joint commitment to meet our world where it is broken and strive towards repairing the breach. Our two institutions, BRSG and Southwest, see our shared mission as offering a critical yet compassionate spiritual witness so that people will be convicted to not ignore the crises of today’s world or have a shallow understanding of the relationship between religious faith and social tensions. We believe that the presence of Rev. Norton in the Seminary of the Southwest community will be invaluable to helping us bridge that gap en route to a better, brighter future” added Dr. Stacey Floyd-Thomas, BRSG Co-Founder and Executive Director.

“I am excited to be at Seminary of the Southwest next year. The unique and troubling times in which we find ourselves have further highlighted the need for theological education to focus on issues racial justice and equity. I look forward to engaging this wonderful community in difficult and generative conversations as we all continue the path towards prophetic utterance and beloved community,” said Norton.

Norton is a Ph.D. candidate in Hebrew Bible and Ancient Israel and Theology and Practice Fellow at Vanderbilt University. Her current research interests include womanist interpretation, narrative and literary criticism, and the Persian period. In particular, her work focuses on the books of Genesis and Ruth, and how each text treats foreign women, and considers the ways in which insider-outsider paradigms in Scripture influence constructions of identity and facilitate the vilification and/or oppression of women of color who encounter the biblical canon in the modern world.

Currently, Norton is Assistant Professor of Hebrew Bible and H. Eugene Farlough Chair of Black Church Studies at San Francisco Theological Seminary, a Visiting Instructor at Moravian Theological Seminary, and adjunct faculty at Wesley Theological Seminary. She is ordained in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and has served in various ministerial capacities in the Washington, D.C. area and Nashville, TN.

Norton is also creator/curator of the notable Beyoncé Mass, which evolved out of a chapel service developed by students in Norton’s class “Beyoncé and the Hebrew Bible” at San Francisco Theological Seminary. The class explored female-centric interpretations of the Bible and how Scripture reflects Black female identity. Like the worship service, the class explored how Beyoncé’s personal life, career trajectory, music and public persona reflects aspects of Black women’s stories.

“I can’t wait to have Yolanda as a colleague. She will be a great addition to the faculty as an instructor and a conversation partner. Through her teaching, preaching, and cultural engagement, she will model for our students a way of approaching text and world in ways that promote beloved community,” added Bader-Saye.

Each year this program identifies, prepares, and supports a Black religious scholar to serve a one-year term as Crump Visiting Professor and Black Religious Scholars Group Scholar-in-Residence. Teaching required courses and electives and contributing to community life and worship, this scholar will join with the faculty in formation of leaders to lead conversations across boundaries of race and ethnicity.

The previous two Crump Visiting Professor and Black Religious Scholars Group Scholar-in-Residence were the Rev. Melanie Jones (2018-19) and the Rev. Cheryl Kirk-Duggan, Ph.D. (2019-20).