Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary 1978
Retired Professor; Retired Clinical Psychologist and Pastoral Care Counselor, Durham, North Carolina
Rev. Dr. Homer Ashby, Jr. characterizes his ministry as both caring and justice-seeking. As a professor of pastoral care at McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago, clinical psychologist, and pastoral care counselor, he recognizes the critical need for care in the lives of individuals, couples, families, and communities. Care is fundamental for healthy human development: “We all need caring persons to help us reach the potential God has in store for us.” But caring alone is not enough; it must be balanced with a seeking after justice—equality, mutual respect, and shared resources—“You can heal a person individually, but if they’re not surrounded by a caring and justice-loving community, then that has the potential to undo the healing.”
In Dr. Ashby’s ministry, caring and justice are inextricably connected—and necessary not only for healthy individuals but also for thriving communities: “as necessary as the air we breathe or the water we drink . . . without caring, communities have the potential to descend into prejudice, hatred, and violence.” An ethos of caring and justice is consistent with the Christian doctrine of living not for ourselves, but for God and others: “we’re called to work toward the common good.”
These ideas of caring, justice, and concern for the common good underlie Dr. Ashby’s understanding of faithfulness—which he defines as having the humility to trust in God and being willing to sacrifice for the good of others. He acknowledges that none of us is able to thrive on our own. Many have made sacrifices on our behalf—sharing not only material goods but also, and more importantly, things like hope, forgiveness, and reconciliation—in order to be faithful, we too must be we willing “to give up some things of our own in order to share them with others.” Dr. Ashby’s concern for caring, justice, and humility is drawn directly from Micah 6:8: “. . . and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” He is inspired by those—like Rev. Jeremiah Wright—who are willing to give of themselves without counting the cost and to speak with a prophetic voice without fearing the consequences.
As Dr. Ashby reflects on what is happening in the world today, especially in the U.S., he notes that white hegemony is giving way and, as those who have historically wielded power and control over structures and resources see that power slip away, they are resisting the change, demonizing and intimidating those they believe responsible. He sees the role of organizations like CBE as helping people of color understand and interpret these profound cultural shifts and, most importantly, helping them “strategize and be supported in the face of this onslaught . . . and deal with the rage and depression and trauma and other spiritual and mental challenges that go along with being engaged in this struggle.”