David Emmanuel Goatley is Associate Dean for Academic and Vocational Formation, Ruth W. and A. Morris Williams, Jr. Research Professor of Theology and Christian Ministry, and Director of the Office of Black Church Studies at Duke University Divinity School.
1. What story, verse or passage from your faith tradition’s sacred texts has significantly influenced / shaped your life?
“But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies. For while we live, we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be made visible in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you” (Second Corinthians 4:7-12, NRSV).
2. Who are three people (other than your family) who have shaped your life and worldview? And why?
Deotis Roberts is one of the architects of Black Theology as a discipline. He is a philosophical theologian whose intellectual and ministerial project was lived with a both/and approach. He was firmly committed to the academy and the church. His seminal text was Liberation and Reconciliation: A Black Theology in which he argued that the cross calls Black and white Christians to do the hard work within their communities and, together, to work for both liberation and reconciliation that will happen in tension and tandem. He embraced, without rejection or romanticism, his European and African heritages as an American.
Marian Wright Edelman, founder and president emerita of the Children’s Defense Fund, has been an inspiration. She has given her life as an advocate for children which, while most may not refer to it as such, has been her vocation – God’s calling upon her life. Perhaps her work has led to my commitment to work for a world that is humane and habitable for children. If we do so, this will be a better world for all.
Wendell Clay Somerville, the legendary 55-year executive leader for the Lott Carey Baptist Foreign Mission Society, has helped to shape my life. I had the privilege of succeeding him during my 22-year tenure at Lott Carey and to “stand on his shoulders.” He became Lott Carey’s leader in 1940 and led it to be the leading global missions agency of African American Baptist heritage. I wrote a book on his missiology and came to “know” him better than anyone presently alive who knew him personally. Exploring his sermons, books, reports and the like produced over a half century helped me to be a better leader with a vision for the world.
3. List three of your “desert island” books, movies or TV shows.
“The Preacher’s Wife,” “It’s a Wonderful Life” and any book of sermons by Gardner C. Taylor.
4. What is one of the most critical issues people are facing today?
The tridimensional oppressions of racism, classism and sexism.
5. What are a few of your hobbies?
Music and low-impact athletics (because of football knees).
6. If you could freeze your life into an already-lived 10 seconds, what would they be?
The birth of my son.
7. Our tagline at Good Faith Media is, “There’s more to tell.” What’s your “more to tell”?
My father-pastor taught us, “Never give up on people, because you don’t know what God is going to do.” God is still moving in people’s lives throughout the world on God’s own time.
Reflection and resources at the intersection of faith and culture through an inclusive Christian lens.