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Visit the Souls a’ Fire 5 Website: www.soulsafire.org

In 2003, the CLGS African American Roundtable organized the first national gathering of black pastors, scholars and activists to consider the intersections of African-American culture, the church and LGBTQ identity at the Souls a’Fire conference in Berkeley at Pacific School of Religion. Souls a’Fire 2 was held in 2005 in Chicago, and Souls a’Fire 3 was held in April of 2007 in Philadelphia. CLGS was pleased to host the return of the conference with Souls a’ Fire 4 in Cleveland in August of 2014.The African-American Roundtable and Many Voices were pleased to host the fifth Souls A’ Fire Conference focused on the next generation of Black Queer Theology on April 22-24, 2016 at City of Refuge, UCC in Oakland California. The CLGS Ninth Annual Boswell Lecture kicked off the Souls a’ Fire conference on Thursday, April 21, 2016 with Rev. Dr. Emilie M. Townes, Dean of Vanderbilt Divinity School.

We are continuing the rich tradition of encouraging our young scholars in their current work as well as learning from seasoned theologians and preachers as they explore the intersections of African-American culture, the church and LGBTQ identity.  These events are also a time of retreat and inspiration through ritual, praise and worship.

For More Information, Visit the Souls a’ Fire 5 Conference Website: www.soulsafire.org


Souls a’ Fire 4 featured scholarship:

“Encountering Psychosis: Mental Health, Religiosity, and
Queer Identity”
Presented by Rev. Kyndra Danyelle Frazier

There are numerous LGBTQ persons who have struggled with varying mental health challenges that stem from the internal melee instigated when religiosity deems a sexual orientation “deviant”. Historically, misappropriations of scripture and myopic constructions of Jesus have been used to isolate and oppress socially constructed minority groups. In our current context, these practices persist. This paper explores the influence of Christian fundamentalism on the mental health of queer identified persons. Put in conversation with Womanism and Life Course theories, as well as ecclesial and Biblical teachings of Jesus, Black queer narratives in this paper will interrogate the consequences of mental health when one attempts to separate or integrate Christianity and sexuality. Several queries propel this work: What responsibility does Christian religiosity bear for queer persons who battle with suicidal ideation and attempt? Have people resorted to cutting because they desire to numb themselves from feeling the painfulness that integrating their spirituality and sexuality can bring? Has fasting to no longer have same-gender attraction led persons to anorexia? Are LGBTQ persons suffering from an isolating depression because sermonic presentations and biblical misinterpretation have identified them as an abomination? And, what is the role of resistance in black queers’ imaginations about themselves and their relationship with God? It is my hope that by being attentive to the role of resistance in light of the violations Christian fundamentalism can cause to the psyche and spirit, a new framework will emerge for how to provide spiritual support and care to Black queer persons who find themselves in the crux of the struggle to be their authentic selves.

Rev. Kyndra Danyelle Frazier
 is a native of Charlotte, North Carolina. She is currently pursuing a Master of Science in Social Work at Columbia University, specializing in Advanced Clinical Practice in the health and mental health fields. Kyndra holds a Master of Divinity with a concentration in Church and Community Leadership from Emory University, Candler School of Theology. Kyndra’s life work lies at the intersection of spirituality and therapy. All of her passions culminate into one purpose, to support people in living whole, healed, and thriving lives. Kyndra also served as the Inpatient Psychiatric Chaplain Resident at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, GA through the Clinical Pastoral Education program. She is also a blogger and writer. Kyndra created her own blog November 2012 titled K.Y.N.D, Knowing Yourself in Need of Devotion (www.kyndandfree.com), where she tackles life issues as it relates to her evolving theology and life experiences. She is also a contributor to other blog sites such as Believe Out Loud, The Parking Lot Blog, and Sensing Place. Her interests are in Family Systems and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Pastoral Care and Counseling, spirituality, mysticism, and LGBTQ issues.

 

Darnell FennelTrapped in the Text: Queer Narratives as Sacred Scripture
Presented by Darnell Fennel

How does the Bible authority serve African American  lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Christians (LGBT)?  What does the Bible really say about homosexuality? Is perhaps not the question that Queer Christians should be asking any longer. This paper examines the ways in which some Black churches theologize an authoritative role of the Bible, this paper seeks propose a new role of scripture, one that will be liberating for LGBT Christians.

Rev. Darnell Fennel 
is a native Texan, growing up in southwest Houston. Darnell is no stranger to church growing up in the Baptist tradition, where he discovered a deep passion for ministry.  In 2011 he received his Bachelors degree in Psychology and Religious Studies from the University of Houston. Currently, he is entering his 3rd year as a seminarian at Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California, pursuing a Masters of Divinity degree. After graduation he plans to plant a new church in Houston, TX, this community will continue the ongoing work of reconciliation around faith and sexuality.