Changing hearts and minds on controversial issues will not happen overnight.


Over the years, we have cultivated a wide and diverse network of national, regional, and local collaborators. Carpenter-affiliated students have been part of the Trans-seminarian Cohorts and Latinx Roundtable convenings at the Pacific School of Religion, for example. We regularly send delegations of staff and students to Creating Change and to Wild Goose. This past year, we co-hosted the sixth annual Souls A’Fire conference, the first national gathering of black queer theologians to meet in the South. We worked with SisterSong to organize and support the “Let's Talk about Sex” conference and the Public Rights, Private Conscience Project’s southern leadership summit (with Columbia University Law School). We collaborated with several local partners to bring adrienne maree brown, author of Emergent Strategies , to Nashville this spring for an inspiring and energizing workshop. We are proud to announce a new partnership with Our Bible App, which will launch this fall.

Changing hearts and minds on these controversial issues, though, will not happen overnight. Key to long-term success, we believe, is creating robust and diverse cohorts of faith leaders equipped with the intellectual and practical resources necessary for that labor. At VDS, we pursue those goals year in, year out through our Certificate in Religion, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and our co-curricular programming. This work, too, is deeply collaborative and intersectional.

VDS graduates describe the Carpenter Program’s impact on them here.

Through our Summer Institute (2010-14, co-sponsored with the Human Rights Campaign’s Religion and Faith Program) and Justice Through Engagement Project (2014-2017, supported by the Arcus Foundation), we broadened and deepened our work on LGBTQI justice. Both programs brought students (from VDS and beyond, in the case of the Summer Institute) into sustained conversation with seasoned religious leaders. Graduates of both programs have gone on to become significant change makers on LGBTQI justice in a variety of creative ways and in various institutional locations. They continue to credit these programs for equipping them with vital skills, knowledge and confidence. They also credit the projects with giving them the robust network of colleagues necessary for sustaining this work over the long term.

Of course, there is still much work left to be done. In 2016, 200+ alums, current students, and potential students came together to celebrate the Carpenter Program’s 20th reunion. Here is our collective vision of the Program’s future. Come join us in making it real!


Ellen T Armour, PhD
Carpenter Associate Professor of Feminist Theology

Director, Carpenter Program in Religion, Gender and Sexuality
Vanderbilt Divinity School

Affiliated Faculty, Philosophy and Womens and Gender  Studies
College of Arts and Sciences

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Carpenter Program collective vision

Carpenter Program collective vision