RCWMS is thrilled to welcome the Rev. Dr. Shonda Jones as the Facilitator for the 2023 cohort of Queer Clergy* Thriving in the South! Rachel Sauls, the RCWMS Special Assistant to the Executive Director, will serve as the Program Manager. Both the Rev. Dr. Jones and Rachel are returning to the program after leading the first cohort in 2021.
The third cohort of Queer Clergy* Thriving in the South has been made possible in part by generous support from the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation. All of us at RCWMS are grateful to the Carpenter Foundation for their support of the first, second, and third Queer Clergy* cohorts!
Queer (Women and Nonbinary) Clergy* Thriving in the South is a six-month, peer-supported cohort for queer women and nonbinary folks who have been religious/spiritual leaders for ten years or fewer. Eight applicants from a variety of spiritual traditions and professional backgrounds have accepted invitations to join the January–June 2023 cohort.
*The terms “queer,” “woman,” “nonbinary,” “clergy,” and “religious/spiritual leader” are all imperfect. We use these terms liberally and inclusively.
Rev. Dr. Shonda Jones
Rev. Dr. Shonda Jones is executive director of academic programs at the School of Professional Studies, Wake Forest University in Charlotte, NC and the Principal Investigator for The COMPASS Initiative® Faith Coordinating Center at the Wake Forest University School of Divinity. Dr. Jones is a much sought-after consultant for educational organizations, focusing on academic evaluation, intercultural practices, and equity and inclusion engagement. Before joining Wake Forest University, Dr. Jones served as Associate Dean at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology (Atlanta, GA) and Southern Methodist University’s Perkins School of Theology (Dallas, TX).
Dr. Jones spoke earlier this year at the 33rd annual GLAAD Media Awards in NYC to discuss her work as Principal Investigator of the Gilead COMPASS Initiative® Faith Coordinating which is focused on building the capacity of faith communities to address HIV/AIDS in the Southern United States. She also served as the facilitator for 2021 cohort of Queer Clergywomen Thriving in the South, a virtual, peer-supported cohort for queer clergywomen.
Dr. Jones’ interests include faith and health, the intersection of school choice and race, and her focus broadly examines intercultural practices that promote communal thriving with and among leaders and faith communities. She is an ordained elder in The United Methodist Church certified administrator of the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI), and trainer for intercultural communication. Her work as a theological educator and administrator has included teaching and global engagement in South Africa, Egypt, Israel, South Korea, Brazil, Ghana, and several countries throughout Europe.
Prior to her appointments in higher education, she served in the social service non-profit arena, particularly those focused on addressing HIV/AIDS. Dr. Jones served as Coordinator of Minority Outreach and Coordinator of Care Teams at AIDS Interfaith Network of Tarrant County. At AIDS Interfaith, she served clients from various socio-economic backgrounds impacted by the HIV/AIDS pandemic. She was an instrumental founding member of the African American Task Force for HIV/AIDS, a task force that formed a collaborative effort among service providers to render care in specific ways to impact the rising HIV infections in the African American community. As a result of her ongoing committed to those impacted by HIV/AIDS and has served as Vice-Chair as well as chaired the Program Services Committee on the Board of Directors for AIDS Arms (now Prism Health), the largest AIDS case management agency in the city of Dallas at the time and served on the Board of Directors of AIDS Survival Project in Atlanta.
Dr. Jones has been appointed to serve on several committees and boards within and outside higher education. These include Project Transformation, General Board of Higher Education & Ministry Georgia Harkness Scholarship team, Anti-Racism Team for the North Texas Conference of The United Methodist Church, Concerned Brothers and Sisters of Atlanta, and the Executive Women’s Golf Association.
Dr. Jones earned a Bachelor of Arts (BA) from Texas Christian University, the Master of Divinity (MDiv) from Brite Divinity School at Texas Christian University, and the Doctor of Education in Higher Education (Educational Leadership, Policy, and Technology Studies) from the University of Alabama.
We are deeply grateful for the experience, thoughtfulness, and vision that Rev. Dr. Jones brings to Queer Clergy* Thriving in the South, and for the generous support of the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation!