Category: Ecumenical Institute News

Patty Rath to Retire in January 2019

With deep appreciation for her extraordinary service, Dean Laytham announces the impending retirement of Patty Rath on January 25, 2019. For fifteen years, Patty (MAT, 1999) has been the welcoming face of St. Mary’s Ecumenical Institute, assisting hundreds of prospective students with their entrance into theological education. Patty has been an able advocate for St. Mary’s, an hospitable recruiter with prospects, and an indefatigable and generous colleague. In retirement she plans to spend more time with her grandchildren, while continuing to support and participate in the public and alumni activities of St. Mary’s Ecumenical Institute. We thank her for her service, and wish her all God’s blessings.


Experience the Spirituality & Hospitality of the Taizé Community

St. Mary’s Ecumenical Institute is pleased to welcome Brother John of Taizé in January 2019. We invite you to join us for one of several opportunities to learn about the hospitality and spirituality of the Taize community from Brother John.

Taizé Prayer Service | January 18, 7 pm
Free and open to the public

Taizé Workshop | January 19, 2:30 – 7:30 pm
Registration required ($35, includes light dinner)

Taizé: Community, Spirituality Theology | January 7-22
January Intensive Course 
Led by professors Mark Gorman, ThD, Michael Gorman, PhD, & Brother John of Taizé.

For more information, contact Rebecca Hancock (410.864.4202).


Dr. Al Hathaway, Sr. Given William Donald Schaefer Award

Rev. Dr. Alvin Hathaway Sr., pastor of Union Baptist Church, was awarded the William Donald Schaefer Helping People Award for Baltimore City on November 1, 2018. Dr. Hathaway is a graduate of St. Mary’s Ecumenical Institute (MA in Church Ministries, 2001) and a member of the Executive Board for the EI. He is being recognized for his decades of civic leadership, for being a strong voice for social justice and civil rights, and for nourishing and strengthening the faith of his community.

Each year the William Donald Schaefer Helping People Award is presented by the Comptroller to the individuals and organizations in each county and Baltimore City best exemplifying William Donald Schaefer’s lifelong commitment to helping people. The William Donald Schaefer Helping People Award was created to honor the legacy of public service exemplified by former Governor, Comptroller, and Baltimore City Mayor William Donald Schaefer. One winner is selected from each of Maryland’s 24 jurisdictions.


Dr. Willie James Jennings to Give 2018 Dunning Lecture

This year’s Dunning Lecture, “Saving Christianity from the Racial State” will be given by Dr. Willie James Jennings on Thursday, November 8, 7:30 pm in Laubacher Hall. 

Dr. Willie James Jennings is Associate Professor of Systematic Theology and Africana Studies at Yale University Divinity School. Dr. Jennings is a systematic theologian who teaches in the areas of theology, black church and Africana studies, as well as post-colonial and race theory. Dr. Jennings is the author of The Christian Imagination: Theology and the Origins of Race, one of the most important books in theology written in the last 25 years and a standard text read in colleges, seminaries, and universities.  Dr. Jennings is also the recipient of the 2015 Grawemeyer Award in Religion for his groundbreaking work on race and Christianity. Dr. Jennings recently authored a commentary on the Book of Acts, which won the Reference Book of the Year Award from The Academy of Parish Clergy.

This event is free and open to the public. Registration is requested.

Download a flyer for the event here, or contact Rebecca Hancock (410.864.4202) for more information. 


New Director of MDiv Partnerships

Dean Brent Laytham is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Rebecca Hancock as Director of MDiv Partnerships for St. Mary’s Ecumenical Institute. Dr. Hancock will add this responsibility to her current portfolio as Coordinator of Communications, Operations, and Student Services. Students in the Ecumenical Institute have long known Dr. Hancock as an engaging professor of Old Testament. After she took on student services, students have also found her to be a wise and compassionate advisor. She will bring all of her academic experience and relational gifts to bear on the work of advising all MDiv bound students, and administering partner relationships. “I’ve experienced firsthand how transformative a strong MDiv program can be,” Dr. Hancock wrote, “and welcome the opportunity to support students seeking an accessible path to an MDiv.”


Taylor Branch to Speak at EI Academic Convocation

St. Mary’s Ecumenical Institute is celebrating its 50th anniversary in the 2018-2019 academic year. The EI will begin its jubilee with an academic convocation on Wednesday, September 12, at 7 pm in our chapel. The convocation speaker is Taylor Branch, the Pulitzer Prize winning author of Parting the Waters: America in the King Years. Taylor Branch is especially well-positioned to remind us of the situation in 1968 when Cardinal Shehan and Episcopal Bishop Harry Lee Doll announced a new experiment in ecumenical theological education in founding the EI. Students, alumni, faculty, staff, and friends of the EI are invited to join us as together we commemorate a bold beginning, celebrate a faithful history, and anticipate an engaging future.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Rebecca Hancock at or 410.864.4202.


Dr. Arthur Sutherland Awarded Funding for “Prophet with a Pencil” Initiative

Dr. Arthur Sutherland was awarded funding by the University of Virginia’s Project on Lived Theology for an initiative studying the theological framework of Martin Luther King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” The initiative includes a task force of 10 scholars and practitioners who will meet in Birmingham in June for a three-day research retreat at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. After the June meeting, the task force will publish a collection of essays and host a public forum on the theological ideas and questions raised by King in 1963 that are still relevant today.

The mission of the Project on Lived Theology is to clarify the interconnection of theology and lived experience and promote academic resources in pursuit of social justice and human flourishing. The Project offers a variety of familiar and unconventional spaces where theologians, scholars, students, practitioners, and non-academics can demonstrate the importance of theological ideas in the public conversation about civic responsibility and social progress. The project was established in 2000 with a grant from the Lilly Endowment.

Find out more about the project HERE.


2018 Holocaust Memorial

This year’s Holocaust Remembrance Service was planned by students and faculty in the Richman-Linehan Course in Jewish Studies, which this year focused on Hospitality. The April 25th Service highlighted the hospitality shown to children who escaped the Nazis through the Kindertransport in the months leading up to World War II. Six stories of children were read, one for each of the candles on the Holocaust Menorah. Attendees were given a card with the name and picture of a child, and invited to participate by standing as  the name and story of the child was read.



Dr. Strait Accepts Faculty Position in Indiana

St. Mary’s Ecumenical Institute celebrates the appointment of Dr. Drew Strait as Assistant Professor of New Testament at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary. The AMBS announcement describes what every one of his EI students already knows: Dr. Strait is a masterful teacher, an excellent scholar, and a passionate follower of Jesus.

Arriving in 2013 as a doctoral candidate still completing his dissertation, Strait taught Greek, Orientation to Biblical Studies, and New Testament (13 classes in all), becoming Professor of New Testament (part-time) and receiving the Dunning Distinguished Lecturer award. Students have regularly penned accolades on their course evaluations such as brilliant, wonderful, excellent, fantastic, and exceptional. He will be sorely missed at St. Mary’s Ecumenical Institute, but his legacy will remain: students, colleagues, and alums whose understanding and love of Scripture grew deeper and stronger through Dr. Strait’s teaching.


Dr. Freeman Hrabowski Gives the 2018 Carroll Lecture

On April 12, 2018, the Central Maryland Ecumenical Council, St. Mary’s Seminary & University, and St. Mary’s Ecumenical Institute co-hosted Dr. Freeman Hrabowski for the 2018 Carroll lecture. This year’s lecture focused on where we are 50 years after Dr. King’s assassination. Dr. Hrabowski reflected on his participation in the 1963 Birmingham Children’s Crusade, and the impact of his childhood experiences on his philosophy of education. The audience was challenged by Dr. Hrabowski’s provocative question “What is our society doing for the least of us?” He also reminded us to hope, as Dr. King did, that we can learn to trust one another. In an era where language is often divisive, Dr. Hrabowski’s words stand as a prophetic call to embrace speech that unites by remembering our common humanity and our vocation to the office of citizen.