Vanderbilt Divinity Breakfast will explore ‘Thurman’s habit of stillness’

Amy Steele
Amy Steele (Steve Green/Vanderbilt University)

Howard Thurman, a noted African American minister, author and spiritual adviser to Martin Luther King Jr., will be the focus of the April 1 Vanderbilt Divinity Community Breakfast.

The speaker will be Amy Steele, assistant dean of student life, whose talk is titled “Howard Thurman and the Habit of Stillness.” The breakfast will be from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. in the Vanderbilt Divinity School Reading Room.

Thurman, who was born in 1900 in Daytona Beach, Fla., was a prolific writer on religion and race. Among his books, The Greatest of These, Deep River and Jesus and the Disinherited. He was named one of a dozen outstanding American preachers in a poll by Life magazine.

“Mysticism and social justice are predominant themes consistent in Thurman’s writings,” according to Steele, an ordained Baptist minister who earned her master’s degree and a certificate in Black Church studies from Vanderbilt Divinity School in 2000.

“I plan to reflect on Thurman’s conception of the habit of stillness as a vital component of spiritual practice and as a sanction for resistance against injustice.”

Thurman, whose later years were spent in San Francisco at the Church for the Fellowship of All Peoples, died in 1981.

Steele recently defended her Vanderbilt doctoral dissertation, “The Mystical Aesthetic: Howard Thurman and the Art of Meaning.” She has scholarly interests in the areas of social ethics, spirituality, philosophical hermeneutics, homiletics, aesthetics and pragmatic theology.

After her talk, Steele will invite participants to practice stillness through quiet meditation as she reads excerpts from Thurman’s Meditations of the Heart.

To register for the breakfast, call 615-936-8453 or sign up online. The breakfast is $10 for the general public and free for students who register.