The Poverty Consortium, a Connecticut-based, federally tax-exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit, is a nationwide network of scholars of religion, religious leaders, and activists working collaboratively to eliminate poverty and related civil inequities, in their multiple dimensions. Consortium members do top-flight research, both independently and in hubs we are growing in cities nationwide, on poverty and economics in relation to religion. We seek to produce knowledge that will effect poverty alleviation and equity. We also wish to increase our “public voice,” individually and collectively, in order to shift public understanding and practices toward poverty elimination and equity; to work with everyone, especially peoples of faith across the political spectrum, to encourage material transformation, for civil rights and justice, for those in poverty; and finally, to build “beloved communities” of deep solidarity, friendship, and uplift across the country. Our website povertyconsortium.org and twitter service @bostonpovertyc are open-source learning tools that also serve as clearinghouses for organizations and programs aimed at poverty alleviation and equity. Our focus is domestic.
The Consortium is an open network–all who are interested are welcome to join us (you can sign up at the bottom of the home page). You’ll receive our periodic newsletter of coming events and new content. We have chapters in Boston (our original hub) and New Haven and are seeding new centers for change nationwide. Please contact us if we you would like to write an article, do an interview with us, have a great idea you’d like to share, or wish to start a chapter of the Poverty Consortium in your city.
The Leadership Team:
Diana M. Swancutt, Ph.D. (Duke University), is President and Co-Founder of The Poverty Consortium. An award- and grant-winning professor of religion and history, Dr. Swancutt is also a cultural commentator and a human rights activist. Faculty in New Testament and Christian origins at Yale Divinity School from 2000-2012, she served as Visiting Associate Professor of New Testament at Boston University School of Theology (BUSTh). She is now Research Associate Professor of Bible, Religion, and Global Justice at BUSTh, and a Global Justice Fellow at the Global Justice Program at Yale University. Dr. Swancutt earned the doctorate in New Testament and Early Christianity (with a certificate in Women’s Studies), summa cum laude, from Duke University in 2001. Her historical academic work has focused on the impact of imperialism, ethnic identity, enslavement, and economic relations in emergent Christianity. As a cultural commentator and human rights activist, she has been especially interested in the power and use of the Bible and religious discourses in politics, the culture wars, the wider society, and within religious communities. Her current research focuses on poverty, economic injustice, and ethics. Contact: email@example.com; 203-824-8509.
Richard A. Horsley, Ph.D. (Harvard University), is Co-Founder and Director of Program Strategy for the Boston Poverty Consortium. Distinguished Professor of Liberal Arts and the Study of Religion at University of Massachusetts, Boston (emeritus). Dr. Horsley is a visionary thinker, political activist, and decades-long community organizer who has worked vigorously for the people of Boston, especially his native Jamaica Plain, while writing over 25 books (and counting) on the history of the Jesus movement, politics, the Roman empire, poverty, and economics, including his critical recent volumes Jesus and the Powers and Covenant Economics. In addition to these volumes, those most directly pertinent to poverty are Bandits, Prophets, and Messiahs, Jesus and the Spiral of Violence, The Liberation of Christmas, The Message and the Kingdom, Jesus and Empire, and Jesus and the Politics of Roman Palestine. Of the many books he has edited, most pertinent are The Bible and Liberation (revised edition), Slavery in Text and Interpretation (Semeia 83), Hidden Transcripts and the Arts of Resistance, and Christian Origins: vol. 1 of A People’s History of Christianity. He has also been a primary architect of the revolution of studies (of politics, imperialism, poverty, and economics) within the Society of Biblical Literature. In Jesus and the Spiral of Violence, he aptly said that the focal concern of the Jesus movement is the “liberation and welfare of the people…restoring the life of the society,” which includes restoration of the poor and oppressed and the judgment of those who caused them harm. “In modern parlance that would be labeled a ‘revolution.'” (207-208).
Gerald Ellis, Jr., Ph.D
Melissa M Matthes, Ph.D
Matthew J.M. Coomber, Ph.D. Dr. Coomber is Assistant Professor of Biblical Studies at St. Ambrose College and Director of The Center and Library for the Bible and Social Justice. Dr. Coomber’s teaching and research examine the ways biblical texts interact with the cultures and societies into which they are adopted – particularly in relation to economics, social justice movements, and the arts. He has studied and taught in Europe and Asia and will be teaching a study abroad course in the winter of 2014-15, entitled “Genocide, Rebellion, and God in Nazi Germany.” Coomber is an ordained priest in the Episcopal Church. Among his other works, he is the author of Rereading the Prophets through Corporate Globalization (2010) and the editor of Bible and Justice: Ancient Texts, Modern Challenges (2011).
Amy Durfee West, J.D. is a PhD student at Boston University School of Theology. Before entering seminary she practiced law in Denver, Colorado for 28 years, concentrating in real estate and business transactions. In that time she also raised five children and was an active church and community volunteer, holding leadership positions in the Denver Bar Association, the Colorado Bar Association Real Estate Section Council, Commercial Real Estate Women of Denver, and the National Network of Commercial Real Estate Women. She headed the Second Century Foundation, her home congregation’s charitable endowment, for twelve years. She has taught courses at the Denver Paralegal Institute, Metropolitan State College, and the University of Denver College of Law. In 2008 she closed down her law practice and moved to Philadelphia to enroll in Palmer Theological Seminary as a Presidential Scholar. In the summer of 2010 she worked as an intern for the Children’s Defense Fund. While there she helped develop and deliver Young Advocate Leadership Training at the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Institute. That fall she transferred to Boston University School of Theology as a Dean’s Fellow. She completed her M.Div. in 2012 and is currently working as a research fellow for the Anna Howard Shaw Center, studying congregational leadership. Her area of concentration is religious ethics, with a focus on moral formation, moral decision making, social ethics and social change. Amy is a Provisional Elder in the United Methodist Church.
Amy has been deeply concerned about poverty, inequality, and injustice since she was a child. She reads extensively about economics, globalization, political science, critical race theory, political theology, leadership, education, and history.
Walter E. Fluker, Ph.D. Dr. Fluker is the Martin Luther King, Jr. Professor of Ethical Leadership at Boston University School of Theology (BUSTh), the editor of the Howard Thurman Papers Project, and a leading force in the Religion and Conflict Transformation Program at BUSTh. Before coming to Boston University, he was founding executive director of the Leadership Center and the Coca-Cola Professor of Leadership Studies at Morehouse College. Fluker is a featured speaker, lecturer and workshop leader for professionals and emerging leaders in public and private domains. His recent publications include two volumes of a multi-volume series entitled, The Papers of Howard Washington Thurman: volume I, My People Need Me and volume II, “Christian, Who Calls Me Christian?” (University of South Carolina Press, 2009, 2011); and Ethical Leadership: The Quest for Character, Civility and Community (Fortress, 2009). He is completing a manuscript entitled, The Ground Has Shifted: Essays on Spirituality, Ethics and Leadership from African American Moral Traditions. His prior academic experience includes professorial and administrative positions at Vanderbilt University, Harvard College, Dillard University and Colgate-Rochester Divinity School; and has served as visiting professor and scholar at Harvard University, The University of Cape Town in South Africa, Columbia Theological Seminary and Princeton Theological Seminary.
Joerg Rieger, Ph.D. Dr. Rieger is the Wendland-Cook Endowed Professor of Constructive Theology at Southern Methodist University and an internationally recognized activist and scholar addressing economics, theology, and liberation for over two decades. Among his several books are Occupy Religion: Theology of the Multitude (2012), No Rising Tide: Theology, Economics, and the Future (2009), and Christ and Empire: From Paul to Postcolonial Times (2007). He is also an Ordained Elder in the United Methodist Church, Editor of the Academic Book Series New Approaches to Religion and Power for Palgrave Macmillan Publishers, Advisory Board member for the Academic Book Series Religion and the Modern World, with Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Editorial Board member of Soma: An International Journal of Contemporary Theological Discourses and Counter-Discourses, and Editorial Board Member of Caminhando, Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Cathi Bosco, Creative Director (C&D Studios), provides total web presence, media, graphic campaign presentation and development for selected programs and organizations, including the Poverty Consortium. Ms. Bosco is a Merit Scholar and graduate of The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where her studies focused on Sculpture, Drawing and Time Arts. Ms. Bosco’s impressive body of work covers the breadth of a professional working artist, as well as illustrations, publishing, design, and award-winning journalistic photography (Her work has been recognized by the Connecticut Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists for annual excellence). Through C&D Studies she creates beautiful and cohesive graphic and web presence packages with powerful visuals that engage and convert audiences. She is the author and illustrator of the children’s picture book, Be The Kite! (ISBN 978-0-9855076-0-2).