Authors and speakers Sarah Bessey and Chanequa Walker-Barnes will be the featured presenters for this year’s Annual Women’s Forum sponsored by Candler’s Women, Theology, and Ministry (WTM) program. Titled “Spiritualities of Joy in the Midst of Persistent Pandemics,” the virtual event will take place as a Zoom Webinar on November 4 from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. EDT. Amy Valdez Barker, visiting associate professor of religious education and mission innovation, will serve as respondent, and interim director of the WTM program Lahronda Little 18T will facilitate the discussion.
Sarah Bessey is the author of the best-selling and critically acclaimed books Jesus Feminist (Howard Books, 2013); Out of Sorts: Making Peace with an Evolving Faith (Howard, 2015); and Miracles and Other Reasonable Things (Howard, 2019), and the editor of A Rhythm of Prayer: A Collection of Meditations for Renewal (Convergent, 2021). Bessey co-founded the Evolving Faith Conference and serves as co-host of The Evolving Faith Podcast. She is a sought-after speaker at churches, conferences, and universities around the world. Her writing has appeared in The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, The High Calling, Conversations Journal, ChurchLeaders.com, CT Women: Christianity Today’s Blog for Women, Today’s Christian Woman, and she has commented on religion, feminism, and faith deconstruction for The Atlantic, The Christian Post, Christianity Today, The National Post, and The Washington Post among others.
Chanequa Walker-Barnes is a licensed clinical psychologist, public theologian, and ecumenical minister whose work focuses upon identifying and healing the individual and societal legacies of racial and gender oppression. She earned her BA from Emory University, her MS and PhD from the University of Miami, and her MDiv from Duke University. Walker-Barnes is the author of Too Heavy a Yoke: Black Women and the Burden of Strength (Cascade, 2014), I Bring the Voices of My People: A Womanist Vision for Racial Reconciliation (Eerdmans, 2019), and nearly two dozen peer-reviewed journal articles in child development, clinical psychology, and pastoral theology. Her faith has been shaped by Methodist, Baptist, and evangelical social justice communities as well as by Buddhism and Islam. Walker-Barnes was ordained by an independent fellowship that holds incarnational theology, community engagement, social justice, and prophetic witness as its core values. She serves as professor of practical theology and pastoral care at Columbia Theological Seminary in Atlanta.
Amy Valdez Barker is an ordained deacon in the North Georgia Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church and previously served as executive director of Global Mission Connections at The General Board of Global Ministries of The United Methodist Church and chief connectional ministries officer for the Connectional Table of The United Methodist Church. In addition to her executive leadership roles, Valdez Barker has been a practitioner in the area of youth ministry education, strategic visioning, and leadership development through church and conference positions. She is the author of Trust by Design: The Beautiful Behaviors of an Effective Church Culture (Abingdon Press, 2017).
Lahronda Welch Little 18T is a doctoral candidate in Person, Community, and Religious Life in Emory University’s Graduate Division of Religion. Her research interests include soteriology and the ways in which notions of salvation affect the whole person, community, environment, and social systems. Little earned her MDiv at Candler, where she focused on Religion and Health, and Women, Theology, and Ministry. She is currently pursuing ordination in The United Methodist Church.
Learn more about Candler’s Women, Theology, and Ministry program.