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Dr. Iva Elaine Carruthers

Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary 2001

General Secretary, the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, Inc., Chicago, Illinois

In her role as founding member and General Secretary of the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, Dr. Iva Elaine Carruthers develops and implements programs to address critical social-justice needs in diverse communities. She describes her ministry as enabling the Black church “to engage in advocacy for global social justice, to build infrastructure and provide resources to that end, and to initiate new and stronger collaborations.” In seeking a more equitable distribution of global resources and more humane responses to marginalized communities and their experiences, Dr. Carruthers continues the rich legacy of the Black faith community’s prophetic witness and engagement in social-justice issues.

Her profound commitment to social-justice issues reflects her idea of faithfulness in ministry: “pressing through even when there is no evidence that what you think God is calling you to do can manifest itself.” She believes in being a good steward over the little things, being willing to sacrifice time, resources, and effort, and being able to subordinate individual interests—these are what allow her to stay focused and sustain her ministry.

Dr. Carruthers finds inspiration in the legacy of Samuel Proctor, for whom her organization is named, as well as “the lineage of strong Black women who have taken up the mantles of leadership and proclamation of the Word in speech and action.” Early ministry inspiration came from learning and working with leaders such as Jeremiah Wright, Yvonne Delk, Gayraud Wilmore, James Cone, Dennis Wiley, Jackie Grant, Forrest Harris, Bernice Powell Jackson, and Larry Murphy—some of the most significant Black faith leaders of the prophetic tradition. Dr. Carruthers also finds hope in the generations following hers, younger leaders who have stepped up to demonstrate a commitment and faithfulness to this kind of ministry: “They motivate me to build a strong infrastructure to leave them with.”

Dr. Carruthers credits Garrett-Evangelical for contributing to “a theological lens with which to strengthen my interpretation, the resolve to address the complex issues of injustice, particularly around race and gender that I had been grappling with, a way to contextualize the eternal quest about what it means to be human, and an understanding of African-centered identity and Christian witness.” Her hope is that CBE can find ways to integrate into the seminary curriculum the legacy of various spiritual and religious expressions of the African diaspora—thereby giving voice to the authenticity of African and Black sources of well-being and validation.

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