After he preached for and moved us so deeply back in February, we knew we wanted to hear more from Marvin K. White. So we asked him to be our Public Theologian-in-Residence for 2017-2018, starting this fall, and he said an enthusiastic yes!
Molly: What is a public theologian?
Marvin: 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.
Molly: What will it mean that we have a public theologian in residence?
Marvin: It will mean “SO MUCH FUN!!!” I will facilitate quarterly “workship” services during the adult ed hour throughout the year. The “workship” (workshop + worship) services are creative writing/creative conversation workshops that deploy a Theopoetics that asks participants to find God through their creative and poetic strivings. Publicly accessing the inherent poetry in people, is accessing the inherent God in people.
On the Sunday following each “workship” service, I will be the guest preacher for the day, preaching sermons that are “public practice,” that allow us to see in real time meaning-making out of the stories and encounters I have encountered in this community.
Molly: Tell me more about Marvin K. White!
Marvin: Well… I earned a Masters of Divinity from the Pacific School of Religion Berkeley in 2016. While in school I was also a pastoral intern and Pastor Associate, at Glide Memorial Church in San Francisco. I have over 25 years of experience as a published poet and am the author of four collections of poetry. I am currently a YBCA (Yerba Buena Center for the Arts) Fellow, and I continue to be a performer, playwright, visual artist, community arts organizer, preacher and speaker. I am articulating a vision of social and creative justice through being a writer, artist, activist, community organizer, public theologian, preacher, homemaker, cake baker, caregiver and Facebook statistician.