I am Professor of Urban and Interdisciplinary Studies at Eastern University where I have been since 1997. I worked as an urban youth worker, an American Baptist pastor, an adult educator and now a professor of Urban Studies. My areas of focus are urban theology, race and ethnic relations, leadership, social activism, and popular education. I have been involved in the West Philadelphia area for many years doing community based leadership development and seeking to build relationships across differences of race, ethnicity, class, religion and sexual orientation. Through offering short and long term trainings and through my writing seek to help people discover their own inherent power and wisdom to transform their communities
I am particularly focused on community issues of gun violence prevention, urban education and interfaith and inter-racial coalitions for addressing city issues. I am a member of the Education Task Force for POWER (Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Empower and Rebuild) and NewCORE (New Conversations for Race and Ethnicity). I am also a founding member and regular participant in Heeding God’s Call.
In 2002 after 21 years as a pastor and member of the American Baptist Churches, I joined West Philadelphia Mennonite Fellowship, to reconnect to my Anabaptist roots. The Anabaptist commitments to nonviolence, intentional community and seeking to live out the Christian faith in concrete ways are the bedrock of what it means for me to be a person of faith. However, I have spent most of life working with Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists and people of other faith traditions committed to bring hope, healing and justice to a hurting world. Thus despite my Christian identity I am deeply committed to interfaith dialogue and cooperation.
In 1980 I was introduced to work of Paulo Freire in his classic work Pedagogy of Oppressed. His emphasis on praxis (action-reflection and experience-based learning) have informed my approach to education and community work ever since. Like Freire, Myles Horton, founder of Highlander Research and Education Center in east Tennessee has had a profound impact on my commitment to community-based, grass roots social change. The perspectives of Freire and Horton guide the work I do whether teaching, working with community groups or writing.
On a personal note I am married and have three adult children. I am a cycling enthusiast, a sports fanatic, a lover of books, and a guitar player. In my free time I like to ride my bike, go to movies and the theater, and spend time with colleagues, friends and family.