Marvin K. White served as First Church’s Public Theologian in Residence for 2017-2018. Marvin is a poet, preacher/theologian, activist, and artist. Marvin had preached several times previously to great acclaim and was invited into this new, year-long role.
He led four Learning Hour events that he described as "workships" throughout the year and then preached on following Sundays. He also participated in events alongside other First Church guests including poet Christian Wiman and author Steve Almond.
He describes his work this way: “As a public theologian, I am listening and lifting up the unique stories that form the corporate public witness of organized churches. I want to hear the particular notes of the church’s justice and faith song that they are articulating, and combine it with a personal public witness. For me, being a public theologian is to lift up the ways that we are all ‘outsiders’ and vulnerable to the elements (meteorological, political, social, professional). Our communities, our publics, are calling us into the places where they feel most vulnerable, the streets: the streets where we all live, work, recover, die, socialize, make family, community, art, and faith. I am deploying and exploring ‘vernaculuar theologies,’ unapologetically using the languages and cultures of our people and our publics to get individuals and communities to the highest understanding of their divinity and God. I want us to have a relevant word and response to the day.”
You can still experience the power of Marvin's preaching online:
Read a written version of "Love and Belonging" from April 29, 2018
You will also find "Love & Belonging" on the First Church GodCast (downloadable audio files.)