Love Thyself: Black Bodies and Religious Space

A #BlackChurchSex Convening

“And whatsoever mine eyes desired I kept not from them, I withheld not my heart from any joy; for my heart rejoiced in all my labour: and this was my portion of all my labour.” –Ecclesiastes 2:10 (KJV)

A Convening for Clergy, Laypeople, Scholars, Activists, Healers and Community Organizers around Gender, Sexuality and Pleasure in the Black Church.

Co-sponsored by The Center for Black Church Studies at Princeton Seminary and Columbia University’s Center for African-American Religion, Sexual Politics, and Social Justice. 

March 4-5, 2016

Princeton Theological Seminary, Princeton, New Jersey

To watch the keynote conversation between Darnell Moore, Rev. Dr.  Kelly Brown-Douglas, and Rev. Dr. E. Dewey Smith,  please click here

ABOUT #BlackChurchSex Convening 

#BlackChurchSex began as an organic Twitter conversation on May 14, 2015 when Minister Ahmad Greene-Hayes (@_BrothaG) began tweeting about gender, sexuality, and sexual violence in the Black church. Hundreds joined in and the hashtag trended nationally. Scholars, clergy, laypeople and activists from all walks of life engaged in transparent conversation about trauma and pleasure through a theological lens. A more detailed history can be found here.

On June 12, 2015, a follow-up conversation exploring “Pleasure” discussed healthy, consensual sexual/body ethics among people of faith. Guiding questions included: Is sex/sexuality divine? What is pleasure? How should the church teach about pleasure? How do our understandings of pleasure and God’s desire for us to experience it, affect our relationships with the church? How has the church’s teachings shamed consensual sexual practices? What are the implications of sexually repressive theologies given the high rates of incest, rape and sexual abuse in the church? How do those same theologies affect the lives and livelihoods of queer, transgender and gender nonconforming Christians?

#BlackChurchSex organizes under a womanist theological framework. It urges Black church leaders, laypeople and community members to think critically about what wholeness means in a world that incessantly denies the power and purpose of Black love in all its forms.

Womanist theologian Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas writes in Sexuality and the Black Church, “A sexual discourse of resistance makes clear that there is no longer an excuse for the Black church behaving in such a way that compromises the humanity or mocks the sexuality of any individual. It is time for a transformation” (139). #BlackChurchSex calls for a sexual discourse in the Black church that engenders loving the Black body in religious space. It also calls for discursive conversations about the sexual politics of Black churches to think about trauma, healing and pleasure in tandem. It not only considers and critiques traumatic and violent theologies but also seeks to build a canon for exploring the politics of pleasure in Black churches.

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