April 8, 2019
As the daughter of a pastor, Keri Day spent much of her childhood in the church and, more specifically, the African American church. For Day, this experience was inextricably linked to questions of justice and equality. So, it’s no surprise that her practice of faith also “naturally extended to how we participate in this world as responsible and faithful persons,” she says.
Today, as associate professor of constructive theology and African American religion at Princeton Theological Seminary, Day leverages this experience to tackle research questions surrounding race, gender, and sexuality in both the Christian tradition and the public sphere. “Black feminism and womanism, as well as decolonial discourses, gave me the language to talk about my unique lived experiences as a black woman within the context of Christian faith,” she explains. And she’s had much to contribute to the conversation.
Her first book, Unfinished Business: Black Women, The Black Church, and the Struggle to Thrive in America, explores the role the black church can play in fostering economic justice for black women (who, as Day points out, make up about 80 percent of parishioners) as well as how these churches can participate in the democratic processes of America. It’s this practical conversation between faith and society that Day believes can help address pressing issues like income inequality and ongoing racial oppression.
That’s why each of her classes -- which range in topic from religion and democracy to faith and economy -- begins with a short lecture on what she hopes to foster in the next generation of theologians: a capacity for generous listening, an appreciation of diversity as a gift, and the confidence to stand in conviction with their beliefs. “I want them to be change agents,” Day says. “Fashioning communities of justice and love should be at the heart of the Christian witness, not at the periphery.”
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“Informal time in discussion groups with faculty and students discussing feminist theological literature altered my views, excited my spirit, and greatly influenced my teaching.”