NashvilleBusiness.Net 100 Leading African Americans 2018 Recipient: Reverend Dr. Renita J. Weems

Click Here To Listen Nashville Business 100 Leading African Americans Rev Dr Renita J Weems

Reverend Dr. Renita J. Weems is a biblical scholar, a writer, an ordained minister, and a public intellectual whose scholarly insights into modern faith, biblical texts, and the role of spirituality in everyday lives make her a highly sought-after writer and speaker. She has numerous books, commentaries and articles on the Bible and prophetic religion to her credit. Among these are “Just A Sister Away” (1987 & 2005); “I Asked for Intimacy” (1993); “Song of Songs: A Commentary”, Interpreter’s Bible Series, Vol. 5 (Abingdon, 1997). Her 1999 book, “Listening for God: A Minister’s Journey Through Silence and Doubt” (Simon & Schuster), won the Religious Communicators’ Council’s prestigious 1999 Wilbur Award for “excellence in communicating spiritual values to the secular media”.

Reverend Dr. Weems accepted her call into Christian ministry in the 1980s and was ordained an elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church in 1984. Before entering the ministry, she worked in the corporate world as a public accountant and stockbroker. She left corporate America to pursue a career in writing and would eventually go on to write for Essence and Ms. Magazines. God’s call to ministry a few years later led her to Princeton Theological Seminary where she would go on to pursue studies that would prepare her for ministry, but studies that would lead her for a career as a professor and biblical scholar.

Reverend Dr. Weems received her B.A. from Wellesley College (Wellesley, Massachusetts) and her Masters and Ph.D. degrees from Princeton Theological Seminary (Princeton, New Jersey). Upon receiving her Ph.D. in 1989 from Princeton, she became the first African American woman to earn a Ph.D. in Old Testament studies. Invited by Yale University to deliver the prestigious Lyman Beecher Lectures in 2008, she became the first African American woman ever to give the Beecher lectures. She taught in the divinity school at Vanderbilt University for many years; she has served as the William and Camille Cosby Visiting Professor of Humanities at Spelman College and, more recently, the Vice President of Academic Affairs at American Baptist College in Nashville. These days she relishes being able to return to her first love which is writing. When she isn’t writing and enjoying her favorite two past times, biking and quilting, she co-pastors with her husband Rev. Martin Espinosa, the Ray Of Hope Community Church in Nashville, an inner city ministry founded 20 years ago.

Finally, Rev. Dr. Weems has spoken all over this country, and parts of the world, in a wide variety of settings, religious and nonreligious, talking about faith, prophetic religion, Christian ethics, biblical notions of justice, women’s spirituality, and the bible and human sexuality. Dr. Weems is featured in “Black Stars: African American Religious Leaders” (2008), a collection of biographies of some of the most important Black Religious Leaders over the last 200 hundred years, including such impressive figures as Adam Clayton Powell, Elijah Muhammad, Sojourner Truth, Howard Thurman, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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