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Kentina Washington-Leapheart

Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary 2013

Director of Programs for Reproductive Justice and Sexuality Education at the Religious Institute; Former Chaplain, Presbyterian Homes, Evanston, Illinois

Kentina Washington-Leapheart is the Director of Programs for Reproductive Justice and Sexuality Education at the Religious Institute. In this role, she combines her love for justice and education with her experience in pastoral care and chaplaincy. Her passion is helping communities of faith be thoughtful, courageous, and responsible in the care of their minds, bodies, and spirits. She brings to the Religious Institute experience in the areas of LGBTQ advocacy, reproductive justice, and sexual health.

A self-identified womanist queer laborer for the Jesus Project, Kentina earned her Master of Divinity degree from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in 2013.  While at Garrett, Kentina was a Leadership Scholar and received awards for preaching and for her work advocating for the advancement of women in ministry.  A former co-chair of the Garrett Black Seminarians organization, Kentina was recently recognized by the Center for the Church and the Black Experience as one of Garrett’s 45 Outstanding Alums.

 A “second career” minister who followed the call to seminary after seven years working in the financial services field, Kentina has previously worked as a chaplain in hospital, hospice, and long-term care facilities. She has earned 4 units of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) and completed an internship and residency at hospitals in Atlanta, GA, and on the Near West Side of Chicago. Kentina also holds a bachelor’s degree in Public Administration from Miami University (Oxford, Ohio).

“What is most important is to embody all of me in preaching and teaching . . . to live faithfully in my skin. When I feel most faithful is when I am operating in my most authentic self . . . sometimes those of us in ministry—whether pastoring, doing chaplaincy, teaching, or preaching—can feel the need to inauthentically conform to the context where we have been called.”

Several people who have inspired Washington Leapheart also are committed to this kind of authenticity, no matter what the cost—such as Dr. Pamela Lightsey, “a woman who lives and breathes authenticity”—and Dr. Stephen Ray, who “embodies what it looks like to be both a scholar and a pastor.” What she finds inspiring about these mentors is their ability to be “unapologetic and courageous, able to live in this world with a fair measure of grace and a fair measure of righteous indignation.”

Washington Leapheart credits Garrett-Evangelical with helping her find her place in ministry, opening her mind and her life to all the possibilities of serving: “Who I am now as a minister was really formed while I was at Garrett-Evangelical . . . preaching, serving communion, public prayer, pastoral care—you name it, I did it. That experience is so integral to my life as a minister now.”

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