The Reverend Lorena M. Parrish, Ph.D., is an associate professor of Urban Ministries and the director of the Community Engagement Institute and Center for Public Theology at Wesley Theological Seminary. She is co-founder and co-director of Wesley’s Specialization in Children and Youth Ministry and Child Advocacy Certificate Program. An ordained American Baptist minister and scholar-activist, Dr. Parrish is a womanist theologian, urban ministry scholar, and staunch advocate for the just treatment of God’s most disenfranchised communities. Her teaching prepares students to provide transformative and innovative modes of community engagement; initiate ministries that advance inclusion, justice, and equity; start new nonprofits and entrepreneurial initiatives; and develop curriculums that transform the Church’s teachings about spirituality, justice, inclusion, and the politics of Jesus. Her research interests include womanist, Black, and liberation theologies, urban ministry, public square theology, and fostering transformative justice and leadership. Her commitment to connecting faith, race, gender, economics, and social justice has led her to provide nuanced understandings and new ways of addressing marginalization and disenfranchisement with a particular focus on urban environments.
Dr. Parrish has over 16 years of nonprofit experience and has worked in multicultural and multi-racial congregations, including on the ministerial staff of the Collegiate Church Corporation, The Riverside Church in New York City, Trinity Baptist Church in Brooklyn, N.Y., and Claryville Reformed Church in Claryville, N.Y. She also served as chief executive officer of Girls Incorporated of NYC, a nonprofit committed to advocating for and serving young women and girls in underserved communities.
She earned her Ph.D., M.Phil., and M.Div. at Union Theological Seminary in New York. She also holds a Master of Science in Social Work from Columbia University School of Social Work. Her published works include articles in The Huffington Post and the journal Liturgy. She is a contributor to the text, Let Your Light Shine: Mobilizing for Justice with Children and Youth (Friendship Press, 2019. Reginald Blount and Virginia A. Lee, editors).