Katherine Shaner, Assistant Professor of New Testament and a Lutheran pastor, has been appointed by the Evangelical Lutheran Church of American to a four-year term on the Faith and Order Commission of the National Council of Churches. In 2012-15, the Commission will candidly look at social and ecclesial issues that are challenging Christianity in the United States and seek to address the question, "How can the Church speak an authentic word of hope to itself even as it seeks to speak this same word of hope to the world?" The Commission has formed three study groups: Unity, Church Polity, and Divisive Issues; Violence; and Contextual Theologies from the Margins. Prof. Shaner is serving on this last study group addressing marginalization in the churches and the presence of multiple perspectives and voices within their common theologies.
According to the Commission, space is needed to explore the diversity of margins that exist within churches. These margins might be economic, social, cultural, ethnic, racial, gender, sexual, and religious. Globalization and immigration can impact these margins. Engaging margins can both divide and unite churches and communities. Over the next four years, the study group will examine how ecclesiastical communities create both center and margins theologically and ecumenically. Also, the study group will discuss and generate ecumenical resources on contextual theologies for use by congregations and other church organizations. "As someone who lives, teaches, and studies in an ecumenical context and as a scholar whose current work focuses on enslaved women in the earliest Christian communities, I value the work of this study group, which promises to find ways to bring theological perspectives that are often unheard into the center of our ecumenical work."