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Author’s ‘brilliant flashes of insight’

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Awards ceremony: Rev Dr Willie James Jennings was honoured for his book The Christian Imagination: Theology and the Origins of Race

A delegation of Bermudians recently travelled to Kentucky for a special honour linked to one of our own.

They were there to see Rev Dr Willie James Jennings awarded the 2015 University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award in religion.

The associate professor of theology and black church studies at Duke Divinity School is the husband of well-known Bermudian Dr Joanne L Browne Jennings.

Her husband earned the award for explaining how Christianity contributed to segregation and racism in America in his book, The Christian Imagination: Theology and the Origins of Race.

Rev Dr Jennings names broken relationships between people and land and rifts between Christianity and Judaism as key factors. He insists that a renewal of Christian imagination must take place to heal those divides.

His wife is the daughter of Elsie and Patrick Browne, granddaughter of the late Rev Patrick Browne and niece of the late Dame Lois Browne Evans. Her daughter, Njeri Jennings, and uncle, Icen Patrick, were among the delegation of family members and friends that journeyed to Louisville for the awards ceremony.

Shannon Craigo-Snell, a Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary professor who directs the award, had this to say of its recipient: “Dr Jennings book contains brilliant flashes of insight into Christianity and racial oppression. He also sheds light on how Christianity has the potential to foster more just and respectful relations between religious and racial groups.”

The Grawemeyer Awards and monetary prizes are presented annually for outstanding works in music composition, ideas improving world order, psychology, education and religion.

Dr Jennings is an ordained Baptist minister. He teaches courses in systematic theology and black church and culture studies. His research interests include liberation theologies, cultural identities and anthropology. He maintains an active teaching and preaching ministry and has been interim pastor of several North Carolina churches.

He also serves as an executive member of Scholars for the Future of North Carolina, an academic alliance working to benefit communities through scholarship, and has been closely involved in “Moral Mondays”, a coalition the NAACP launched in North Carolina two years ago to protest unfair treatment and discrimination in government.

Dr Jennings is also a consultant for the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Religion and Theology and the Association of Theological Schools. He takes part in cross-disciplinary academic initiatives such as University of Virginia’s Project for Lived Theology and Yale University’s Joy and Religious Traditions Project.

He has a doctor of philosophy degree from Duke University, where he received the Julian F Abele Achievement Award for outstanding teaching and mentoring of graduate students, and a master of divinity degree from Fuller Theological Seminary, where he was a Huntington Scholar and received the Desk and Altar Award for Outstanding Seminarian. He was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and has a bachelor’s degree from Calvin College, where he was president of the Black Student Union.

Yale University Press published Dr Jennings first book, The Christian Imagination, in 2010. The American Academy of Religion named it the best book for constructive theology in 2011. Dr Jennings is working on two new books, one examining sexuality, climate change, land use and cultural identity from a creation doctrine perspective and another exploring the meaning of Christian education amid current public and private education funding debates.


Officers and Members of Alexandrina Lodge No 1026 of the Grand United Order of Odd Fellows were absolutely “spiffy” when they turned out Sunday for the annual Thanksgiving Service and Peter Ogden Celebration.

They were attired for the first time in their distinctive gold-plated regalia, replacing the old-fashioned cloth-like regalia with its attached golden tassels.

Sunday was the 163rd anniversary of the founding of GUO of Odd Fellows in America by Peter Ogden in 1842.

An in-house service and luncheon was held on the top floor of the landmark building on Court Street. Guest speaker was the Rev Charles A Smith, pastor of Heard Chapel AME Church.

Peter Ogden was born in the West Indies. He migrated to the United States and made an effort to join an existing Odd Fellows Lodge in New York but was not allowed because it was a white-only institution.

Ogden became a seaman aboard ships plying trade between New York and Liverpool, England. He was initiated in a lodge there, became a Grand Master and, by virtue of a warrant granted to him through Victoria Lodge No 448, he was able to establish the first lodge in the United States of the GUO of Odd Fellows on March 1, 1843.

The Order was brought to Bermuda nearly a decade later with the first in St George’s, followed in short order by Alexandrina in Hamilton and the Odd Fellows lodge in Somerset situated not far from the St James parish church.

The celebration on Sunday was attended by representatives from other local lodges including the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, which is a Scottish-based Order. First to give salutations to Alexandrina was Brother Norbert Simmons, the recently installed Provincial Grand Master of Hamilton District of the Interdependent Order.


Two of this year’s top Bermuda College graduates were roundly saluted by the congregation of Allen Temple AME Church this past Sunday for their achievements.

Randi Doers, 21, was cited as this year’s most outstanding graduate with merit. Her 21-year-old cousin, Bryson Doers, was cited as the College’s most outstanding management graduate with merit.

The two are active members of Allen Temple along with their elders. Bryson is the long-serving and accomplished drummer of the church. He and another church friend, Mathias Dickenson, along with four other young locals are set to go to Malaysia as part of a Raleigh International team working on community projects for ten weeks. He travelled to Thailand in 2011/2012.

Randi is youngest of the three children of Randolph and Laquita Doers of Cambridge Road, Somerset. She is to attend Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax in September. Her sister Lakeisha is a graduate of Sheridan College, Toronto and is an executive secretary at Appleby. Their brother Jason attended New England Tech in Rhode Island and is an electrician at Besco. The company plans to send him to Illinois next month to study generators. Their father, incidentally, is a superintendent at Besco/Universal Electric.

Bryson and Randi said they had no idea when they attended the college graduation that they would be singled out for their honours.

Odd Fellows: (Left) The noble grand or presiding officer of Alexandrina Lodge, Bro Leopold Mills (centre, front) flanked by his officers vice grand, Bro Stanford Hart and (front right) permanent secretary Bro Eugene Creighton. Standing (from left) are Bro Goldwyn Lambert; Secretary, Bro Burton Butterfield; Bro Andre Symonds; Bro Angelo Curtis and Bro Ken Henry. (Right) Bryson Doers, cited as Bermuda College’s most outstanding management graduate with merit, his grandmother, Monica Doers, and Randi Doers, this year’s most outstanding management graduate with merit, with her mother Laquita Doers