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Where Deep Joy Meets Deep Need
Sheryl Johnson is a scholar of economic ethics and a pastor in an economically and racially diverse congregation. Her research and ministry have been profoundly reshaped by the COVID-19 pandemic. Practically, this has included new initiatives to support and equip Latinx youth at the Congregational Church of San Mateo as they engage in distance learning. Sheryl's research examines the ethical rupture that exists between the stated commitments of North American mainline Protestant churches toward economic (and racial, gender, etc) justice and their internal financial and governance practices. She particularly examines the impacts of neoliberal values and economic structures as well as the sense of “crisis” and “exceptional” circumstances, fuelled by secularization and mainline decline.
Since the pandemic, Sheryl has focused her scholarship on Disaster Capitalism and how this present moment could serve to magnify the ethical rupture or could serve as an occasion that reveals long-standing inequality, leading toward reparations and transfers of wealth.
This research project intersects with her pastoral work which is situated in a religious context with a great deal of inequality (primarily class and racial) within one community with two worship services (in English and Spanish). The COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to a number of practical initiatives to support the most marginalized members of the community (particularly undocumented Latinx families) as well as for the more privileged members to undergo analysis of their own privilege, leading to conversations about reparations as a response to inequality. Both Sheryl's research and pastoral projects engage inter-religious analysis. She looks to non-Christian communities for alternative economic models and approaches and to offer a comparative perspective. In her pastoral work, the Congregational Church of San Mateo engages particularly Muslim counterparts as they host a Muslim preschool in their building and seek to build just relationships, although within a landlord-tenant structure, exemplifying embedded inequalities.
View Sheryl Johnson's interview below. Listen to the extended interview by clicking here.