Here's the third in a series of exposes on liberal protestant thinkers.
Education: BA at Randolph-Macon Woman's College. MA in Comparative Relgions at Columbia, M.Div. in Religion and Psychiatry at Union Theological. Ph.D. in Systematic Theology at Union Theological Seminary
Position: Howard Chandler Robbins Professor of Theology at the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts since 1975. Recepient of the 1988 Distinguished Alumni/ae Award from Union Theological.
Books: Heyward is the author of over a dozen books including Saving Jesus From Those Who are Right; Staying Power: Reflections on Gender, Justice, and Compassion; Touching our Strength: The Erotic as Power and Love of God; When Boundaries Betray Us: Beyond Illusions of What is Ethical in Therapy and Life and; The Redemption of God: A Theology of Mutual Relation.
Project: Carter Heyward is most commonly known as a trailblazer. She was one of 11 women who in 1974 were irregularily ordained to be priests, two years before the Episcopal Church voted to allow such an action. She was one of the first priests in the church to come out of the closet as a lesbian. Today, she works to bless gay and lesbian unions in Massachusetts and push for the expansion of the church to include people who have been historically left out.
For Heyward God is is the power which makes for relationships marked by mutuality and justice. A recent piece by one pastoral candidate summarizes Heyward's vision well:
God “is” our power in mutual relation. God “is” the power of connectedness. Our vocation in life is to find ways to embody that God-ness in our lives. We get to be the hands and feet, the point of connection between God and the world. We get to be the opportunity of dynamic, sparking movement when the still-creating-God births something in the world through our interactions with each other.
Heyward was one of the first authors I read when I started on my own religious journey. Her conception of God provided me some new and fruitful ways of looking again at the question of God. And now working as a student in the field of philosophy, I get surprised at how many times I keep coming back to her work, because it expresses so well what creative interaction with the other can look like.