Kelly Brown Douglas reflects on spending the fall in the United Kingdom

Episcopal Divinity School
Posted Feb 1, 2024

Kelly Brown Douglas spent the fall as the Honorary Professor of Global Theology at Emmanuel Theological College

This past fall, Episcopal Divinity School’s (EDS) Interim President the Rev. Kelly Brown Douglas, Ph.D., spent the semester in Liverpool, U.K., serving as the Honorary Professor of Global Theology at Emmanuel Theological College. Throughout her tenure there, President Douglas had the opportunity to nurture relationships with Emmanuel students, faculty, and staff, as well the colleagues in the Church of England. As we enter the new year, President Douglas took some time to reflect on her time in the U.K. and the growing relationship between EDS and Emmanuel.

“I was invited to Emmanuel Theological College to serve as their Honorary Professor of Global Theology. This particular invitation immediately attracted me because it pointed to what Emmanuel understands so well, which is that as Episcopalians we are a part of a global communion. The Anglican communion is a global communion,” shared President Douglas. “I was impressed by the ways in which Emmanuel understands itself in relation to the wider world and how this is reflected in their programming, which is really focused on ministerial formation. They see themselves as a part of a diverse global demographic, helping students to think beyond themselves and beyond the U.K. And, they are really serious about fostering a post-colonial mind-set and helping students to expand their imagination beyond the Anglican history of imperialism, empire, and colonization.”

Emmanuel Theological College was formed as a partnership between the dioceses of Blackburn, Carlisle, Chester, Liverpool, Manchester, and Sodor and Man. With teaching centers spread across the region and hybrid capabilities, Emmanuel’s innovative structure has drawn much interest. Though it is one of the newest Anglican seminaries in the U.K., it is also now one of the largest, with a student population that comes from a wide range of theological and cultural traditions. “I enjoyed the Emmanuel students even more than I could have imagined,” said President Douglas. “They were so open to dialogue across differences and expanding their own theologies and ministries.”

The Rev. Kelly Brown Douglas with the Rt. Rev. Rose Hudson-Wilkin, bishop of Dover.

During her time at Emmanuel, President Douglas also had the opportunity to travel throughout the United Kingdom and interact with students and faculty from other institutions, as well as serve as a as keynote speaker at many prominent events, including the Micah Lecture hosted by Liverpool Cathedral, the Anglican Minority Ethnic Network conference, and a conference in Canterbury hosted by the Rt. Rev. Rose Hudson-Wilkin, suffragan bishop of Dover, and more. Additionally, President Douglas had the opportunity to engage more deeply with the Church of England. “I spent a considerable amount of time with people of ‘global majority heritage.’

“The Church of England is beginning to think about reparations and the challenge of confronting its own history and the many ways that they not only benefited from white supremacist imperialism and slavery but also the the many ways they provided the very religious and theological justifications for these things to happen,” said President Douglas. She also noted that she was in the U.K. at a very opportune time as the Church of England debated the inclusion of prayers for LGBTQ people. “I was consistently reminding people that unity follows justice,” she said. “We strive for justice and the full inclusion of the diversity of God’s creation, and then unity follows.”

President Douglas is now back in the states, where she will continue to engage with Emmanuel Theological College as the Honorary Professor of Global Theology over the course of the next two years in a mostly remote capacity. EDS also looks forward to nurturing the connections with Emmanuel that President Douglas formed during her time in the UK. As institutions both committed to social justice, moral leadership, and innovative ministerial formation, there are many opportunities for EDS and Emmanuel to partner on program offerings. This January, EDS and the Episcopal Diocese of New York co-sponsored a Civil Rights pilgrimage to Atlanta, Montgomery, and Selma, where they were joined by four Emmanuel affiliates including two students, the Rev. Canon Michael Leyden, dean, and the Rev. Shemil Mathew, vice dean. “It has been an exciting collaboration between EDS and Emmanuel as we think through what ministerial formation looks like for our church and our world,” shared President Douglas.