The Search for Common Ground: Howard Thurman's Theological Vision and the Post-Pandemic Episcopal Church

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Greer, Hilary Anne
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School of Theology Thesis 2023 , University of the South , School of Theology , Howard Thurman , Post-Pandemic , Episcopal Church
For decades, The Episcopal Church has been experiencing seismic change. In many 'ways, the COVID-19 pandemic intensified and accelerated trends already long underway, while also laying bare the social divisions of race and wealth that mark our nation and our world. How our society reorders itself in the wake of the pandemic is not morally or theologically neutral. The stakes are high, and so is the call for faithful witness and moral leadership. The Episcopal Church is called today to cast a theological vision that frames the fundamental questions of our time: who are we meant to be — as people, as a nation, and as a world? What does collective human flourishing look like? How do we move forward together to achieve it? Howard Thurman devoted his life to seeking the thread of the eternal God that bound together humanity and could lead to common ground. The upheavals of war, pandemic, white supremacy, and social change marked his time as they do our own. This thesis aims to sketch the history and trends that shape our nation and The Episcopal Church in 2023. It then considers Howard Thurman's life, context, and creation theology in his mature work The Search for Common Ground as sources of wisdom for our own quest for common ground in today's divided world. Finally, it adapts Howard Thurman' s creation theology as a framework for theological reflection on the experience of the pandemic, considering the theological vision The Episcopal Church is called to proclaim and embody today.