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God and Ice Cream: Princeton Seminary Alums Foster Conversation with Ice Cream Theology

Encouraging growth through conversation and community
News ice cream and theology

Ice cream as a conduit for theological discussion? That’s the idea behind Ice Cream Theology, a book and website created by Princeton Theological Seminary alums Kelly Spencer, MDiv '20, and Zachary Wright, MDiv '20, that strives to make connections between the ordinary and the holy by offering space for conversation.

“People are complex and ice cream is the starter to explore what God means for us, and that’s the really exciting part,” Wright says.

Visitors to the website can order the whole book or select among 15 “flavors” of study guides. With the freedom to choose either by favorite flavors or a theological topic you’re looking to cover, each chapter dives into three intersections of conversation: real life, the flavor itself, and a specific theological concept. There are also hymn suggestions, Bible texts, and prayers, empowering anyone to lead.

Ice Cream Theology strives to encourage the theologian in all of us, rejecting that we have to get it right all the time and instead promoting growth through conversation and community (and ice cream, of course). The guides are accessible for all ages and group types, customizable for leaders and participants to “put the Sundae in Sunday.” Once an order is placed, Wright and Spencer reach out to ensure the selection will meet the need.

SEO Ice Cream Theology
Zachary Wright and Kelly Spencer

The project began four years ago. Wright and Spencer bonded over their love of ice cream and soon found that during their weekly ice cream outings, they were having robust conversations about what they were learning in class and in life. They talked about everything from grief and 1 Corinthians to field education and life decisions. They especially enjoyed sharing updates as they dated, proposed, and got married to their now wives, both Princeton Seminary alums as well.

“We were both processing big life events while also wrestling with what we were learning, and it was great to go deeper into these topics with someone who was sitting by me in class,” Wright says.

“These discussions helped us use what we learned in less academic terms,” Spencer adds. “There was so much information; it was helpful to process it with each other.”

Today, as Pastor of Bethel Lutheran Church in Maryland, Wright wears many hats, preaching weekly, administering the sacraments, visiting hospitals, and even helping paint the church’s outdoor decks. Spencer, ordained last June in the PC(USA), is currently interviewing with churches in Washington State.

As to the future of Ice Cream Theology, Spencer and Wright have “a couple of things in the back freezer” to help continue the conversations they’ve sparked, including the addition of new flavors and more “toppings”-related subjects.

“Toppings enhance what the flavor is,” Wright says. But, it all starts with vanilla – Jesus as the foundation and center of our faith. “So, a topping added to vanilla might cover how Jesus asks us to care about climate or what our love for Him tells us about our care for refugees. Our life is enhanced by our faith, just like toppings bring out the heart of our favorite flavor of ice cream.”

The two plan to continue looking for ways to expand Ice Cream Theology, focusing on faithfulness and accessibility.

“Just watching the depth we’ve gained doing the project is a beautiful example and encouragement for our ability to grow in faith, and we pray that always continues,” Spencer says.

Educating faithful Christian leaders.

Senior Pastor, Asbury United Methodist Church, Atlantic City, NJ

Latasha Milton, Class of 2018

“My passion is doing what I can to empower and liberate people who are hurting. PTS has made me a better person and pastor because it’s given me the tools to better serve the oppressed and marginalized.”