Tell us about The Teacher Who Changed My Life – and why.
There are several teachers that have impacted my life greatly. I choose to highlight Rev. Dr. Valerie Bridgeman. Short in stature, strong in insight, inspiration and integrity; “Dr. Val” taught me the significance of exegeting the soul as well as the sacred scriptures. Because of this I have been able to find my prophetic voice; a voice that she continues to nurture to this day. She forced, in the most parental sense of the term, a group of young preachers we dubbed “Gideon’s Army” at Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church (of which I was one) to wrestle with an awkward, prophetic and perplexing Old Testament text for SIXTEEN WEEKS. And all those who endured the process are now able to proclaim the “sacred fire” from the depths of our soul.
She was my seminary professor and squeezed the intellectual, theoretical, theological and practical juices out of all of her students in Worship, Preaching, Hebrew Bible, Rhetoric and other classes that she led. Her courage is immeasurable. Her creativity and commitment to the arts is innovative and provides artists, poets, preachers and pastors with a fresh “fire” for spiritual practice and proclamation. Her compassion, which she extends to anyone willing to love fearlessly, is so impactful that I am sure several of her students from all ages, races, genders, classes, orientations and persuasions share the same sentiment I am expressing right now. Much of what I have become (and continue to develop into) in ministry and in academia I indebt to the Rev. Dr. Valerie Bridgeman… with #TribalLove