Connections. Ministry is all about connections. For the Rev. Michael-Ray Mathews, Week Three chaplain-in-residence at Chautauqua Institution, it is about making connections between communities that, in turn, work to build communities of belonging, that uphold sacred resistance to injustice and work to heal the world.
Mathews, a public theologian, senior pastor, grassroots leader, community organizer and psalmist, will use “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” the Black National Anthem, to guide his sermon series for the week. He will use his over 30 years of leadership to make the connections between faith and the longing for justice.
At the 10:45 a.m. ecumenical service of worship and sermon Sunday, July 10, in the Amphitheater, Mathews will preach on “Lift Every Voice.” His sermon titles for the 9:15 a.m. morning worship services Monday through Friday in the Amp are “Facing the Rising Sun,” “The Place for Which the People Sighed,” “Treading Our Path Through Blood,” “Weary Years, Silent Tears,” and “May We Forever Stand.”
Mathews is host of the “Prophetic Resistance Podcast,” where he engages leaders from multiple faiths in conversations about building community and sacred resistance to injustice. The podcast is part of the work of Faith in Action initiative, where Mathews serves as deputy director. The purpose of the podcast is to explore “what it means to embody love in the face of fear, to show up like hope in seasons of despair, to stand ready to be light in the darkness and water in a parched land. … And together, we are investigating how — in this moment — leaders of faith and moral courage can cultivate prophetic resistance rooted in revolutionary love.”
The “Prophetic Resistance Podcast” has a first cousin, “The Four,” described on Apple Podcasts as a “fearsome faith foursome talkin’ Black life, love, power and joy … a podcast for everyone.”
Mathews is the co-host with a variety of “dear friends who have all been guests on the ‘Prophetic Resistance Podcast’ ”: the Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis of Middle Collegiate Church in New York, (an Interfaith Lecturer in 2017) Lisa Sharon Harper of Freedomroad.us in Philadelphia, (a 2021 chaplain of the week) and the Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago (a long-time Chautauquan and favorite preacher.)
Mathews is president of the Alliance of Baptists, a progressive movement for justice and healing that came out of the Southern Baptist Convention, and is the co-editor of Trouble the Waters: A Christian Resource for the Work of Racial Justice. He is co-founder and public theologian-in-residence of Sympara, a multifaith and interspiritual community, repurposing spiritual assets for the common good. Mathews is a visiting professor of public theology at Berkeley School of Theology, and he’s a senior fellow at Auburn Seminary in New York.
A native of Compton, California, Mathews earned a B.A. in social sciences and communications from the University of Southern California and a Master of Divinity degrees from Berkeley School of Theology, formerly American Baptist Seminary of the West, and the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California.