Molly T. Marshall is president at United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities. She was featured in the Good Faith Media narrative podcast, “Brother Molly.”

1. What story, verse, or passage from your faith tradition’s sacred text has significantly influenced/shaped your life?

Second Corinthians 3:17-18 offers a theology of spiritual formation as it depicts how we are changed into the likeness of Christ through the Spirit.  With unveiled faces, we become what we behold.

2. Who are three people (other than your family) who have shaped your life and worldview? And why?

I must name a pastoral figure, a scholarly mentor (or two), and a winsome friend.

When I served on the staff of First Baptist Church, Comanche, Texas, John Wiles was the pastor who encouraged me to go to Southern Seminary.  His own experience there helped guide me to pursue theological education in Louisville. He was a wise pastoral figure in my life. He told me about a theologian named Dale Moody “who loved the Bible and would make you think.” It was true.

The scholarly mentor is harder to pinpoint as so many have helped form an ever-growing theological vision. So, I will mention only two. The one who most destabilized my sense of certitude was John A.T. Robinson, of blessed memory.  His own exploration into interfaith spirituality challenged my triumphalist views. Elizabeth Johnson’s She Who Is gave me a grammar to speak of God differently, moving beyond the masculinist hue of the patriarchal system of Christian theology.

The winsome friend is Babs Baugh, also of blessed memory.  Her generosity of spirit, her humor and her candid appraisal of pomposity in conservative Baptist circles inspired me to continue to enlarge the welcome table for all. She once said publicly in a decorous Baptist gathering that my name, “Molly Marshall,” sounded like a stripper. Coming from one named Babs!

3. List three of your “desert island” books, movies, or TV shows.

I would take Joan Chittister’s re-working of The Rule of St. Benedict (although the rules for community might not apply if alone), Ronald Rolheiser’s Holy Longing for its vision of the role of desire for God in shaping our identity, and the movie “Babette’s Feast” for its portrayal of great sacrifice for great love and eucharistic redemption.

4. What is one of the most critical issues people are facing today?

There are four intersectional areas of justice: racial justice, eco-justice, gender justice and economic justice.  They are all intertwined within the idolization of the free-market system that creates greater disparities.

5. What are a few of your hobbies?

I love to cook theological chili. It ranges from “Make your bed in Sheol,” which will revise your eschatology (you will believe in literal hell after eating it), to “Heart strangely warmed,” (the Methodist offering), to “I would that ye were hot or cold,” (Laodicean, rather mild) to “peaceable kingdom” (the vegetarian option). I also love watching tennis and listening to English Chorale music.

6. If you could freeze your life into an already-lived 10 seconds, what would they be?

Every time students had new ideas and clarity in class, I would rejoice. For nearly 40 years, I have witnessed the joy of theological awakening. The classroom has made my heart rise up, and my students are my “letters of recommendation.”

7. Our tagline at Good Faith Media is, “There’s more to tell.” What’s your “more to tell?”

I have begun a new ministry at United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities serving as president. We are a school given to the creating of justice, especially through public theology, interreligious chaplaincy, social transformation, and theology and the arts. We are seeking to create the beloved community both within the seminary and beyond. “We’ve a story to tell.”

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