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Activists-in-Residence Join Scarritt Bennett’s Education Team

In September 2016, Scarritt Bennett Center launched the Activist-in-Residence program developed out of consultation with the Faith Matters Network, whose two Nashville based team members, Rev. Jennifer Bailey & Micky ScottBey Jones, also serve as the first Activist-in-Residence team.

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The Faith Matters Network equips leaders of faith and moral courage to harness the power of story to amplify their collective impact in ending structural inequality. Read more about their work here.

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Rev. Jennifer Bailey, Founding Executive Director, is an ordained itinerant elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, public theologian, and emerging national leader in multi-faith movement for justice. A Truman Scholar and Nathan Cummings Foundation Fellow, Jennifer earned degrees from Tufts University and Vanderbilt University Divinity School where she was awarded the Wilbur F. Tillett Prize for accomplishments in the study of theology. Named one of 15 Faith Leaders to Watch by the Center for American Progress, Jennifer comes to this work with nearly a decade of experience at nonprofits combating inter-generational poverty.

mickyMicky ScottBey Jones, Director of Healing Justice Initiatives, is a womanist contemplative activist, healer, nonviolent direct action organizer and consultant who facilitates conferences, workshops, international trips, retreats and online conversations. She writes & speaks on a variety of topics including healing justice, communal self-care, contemplative activism, intersectionality and theology from the margins. Micky has an M.A. in Intercultural Studies and is an Associate Fellow of Racial Justice with Evangelicals for Social Action. She is a collaborator with Faith Matters Network and Children’s Defense Fund. Micky was named one of the Black Christian leaders changing the world in Huffington Post.

Activists-in-Residence receive space and resources to “incubate” experimental work that supports and is aligned with the Center’s mission of providing transformative educational opportunities that are rooted in spiritual traditions and aimed toward creating a more just world. The program is intended to give activists room to foster their spiritual practice; to explore different pathways to spirit and faith-rooted activism; to form new strategies and formations for faith-rooted racial justice work; and to reimagine their current work within a faith-rooted movement building framework. Applicants to the program can apply as individuals or as teams (as resources allow) and serve for an agreed upon duration of time. The hope is that Activist-in-Residence experimentation leads to innovation at the intersection of movement building and spiritual traditions. The Activist-in-Residence program, among other residency offerings including the Belle H. Bennett Fellowship and Laywoman-in-Residence programs, offers the Center an opportunity to participate in the sustainability, self-care, and longevity of activists in critical social justice movement work.

Activist-in-Residence programming currently includes the Hush Harbor Initiative. During Antebellum America, Hush Harbors were a place where black slaves could meet secretly to practice their religious and Indigenous African spirituality with freedom to mourn, weep, wail, dance, sing and tell the truth. Even in places where Christianity could be openly shared with slaves, they were not allowed to meet in secret out of fear that they would plot rebellions if allowed to meet alone.

In that spirit of resilience, this sisterhood circle will be a continuance of our ancestors’ political and spiritual resistance and consist of two primary components:

1) Monthly Sisters of the Yam Meetings: The cohort will meet together in secret once a month so that we can tell our stories without fear of dismissal, reproach or backlash. We meet together in our own space to share our joys, support each other through challenges and know without a doubt that we are never alone. Our guiding text for this time will be Sisters of the Yam: Black Women and Self-Recovery by bell hooks. Cohort members must be nominated to participate.

2) Embodied Resilience Seminars: Led by local black women artists and spiritual teachers, these gatherings supplement the truth-telling, story-based work of the Sisters of the Yam meetings by allowing participants the space to practice the liberative work of healing by introducing creative tools to help guide their process.

The 2016 Embodied Resilience Seminars are open to the public, whereas monthly Yam Meetings are closed.

For more information about the Activist-in-Residence program, contact the Education team at education@scarrittbennett.org.