Vanderbilt Divinity School’s Carpenter Program to broaden outreach

Carpenter Divinity Vanderbilt

Increased funding from the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation to Vanderbilt University Divinity School will expand religious training on issues concerning gender and sexuality.

The Carpenter Program in Religion, Gender, and Sexuality at Vanderbilt has received a $300,000 grant to broaden its training opportunities and resources for divinity students, local and regional congregations, and social service organizations.

[lquote]“This program has played a vital role in the local, regional and national conversation about some of the most challenging questions facing our religious life and culture,”[/lquote] said James Hudnut-Beumler, dean of Vanderbilt Divinity School and Anne Potter Wilson Distinguished Professor of American Religious History. “We are grateful for the foundation’s generous support of initiatives to support our students and others in their work to address these issues and to create a better informed public.”

Some of the additional funds will go toward developing practical training programs in the areas of marriage, divorce, gender, sexual identity and other issues that often face religious leaders and social workers, according to Ellen Armour, E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Associate Professor of Feminist Theology and program director.

“We will also host conferences that bring scholars and religious leaders in conversation on these sometimes controversial topics,” Armour said.

She noted the program will create educational materials for wider use in clergy and lay education in cooperation with community religious leaders. In addition, intensive workshops to better prepare divinity students to address these issues in their future careers will be offered.

Thanks to an endowed gift from the Carpenter Foundation in 1995, the Carpenter Program at Vanderbilt has built a strong reputation as a place for scholars and students to be in conversation on issues involving gender and sexuality in the context of religious belief and practice.