Ventures courses explore Afrofuturism and theology, becoming more loving and inclusive church

By Kendra Flory

The April and May offerings from the Ventures in Christian Discipleship program at McPherson (Kan.) College will be:

— on April 2, 6:30-8:30 p.m. (central time), “Introduction to Afrofuturism and Theology” presented by Tamisha Tyler, visiting assistant professor of Theology and Culture and Theopoetics at Bethany Seminary; and,

— on May 7 and 9, 7-8:30 p.m. (central time), “Becoming a More Loving and Inclusive Church” presented by Tim McElwee, who served as moderator of the 2023 Church of the Brethren Annual Conference.

April: Afrofuturism and theology

Course description: Afrofuturism is described as the intersection between science fiction, Black culture, technology, the future, and liberation. Connecting a variety of genres including art, technology, literature, and science, Afrofuturism is also filled with religious and theological themes. This course will explore the world of Afrofuturism, paying attention to the theological themes throughout. Afrofuturism creates worlds that answer the questions, “What does a future that centers Black folk look like? What future conditions must exist for Black people to thrive?” The focus of this class is to dig into the theological themes that make up that world.

Tamisha A. Tyler (she/her/hers) is a visiting assistant professor of Theology and Culture and Theopoetics at Bethany Seminary in Richmond, Ind. Her research interests include theopoetics, theology and the arts, Afrofuturism, Black popular culture, and science fiction. Her dissertation, “Articulating Sensibilities: Methodologies in Theopoetics in Conversation with Octavia E. Butler,” explores Butler’s work in the Parable Series as an embodied, artistic, and theopoetic response to the theological, economic, and ecological upheaval in Butler’s dystopian world. She is part of the Level Ground artist collective in Los Angeles, and her work can be seen in Feminism in Religion’s blog and Fuller Magazine.

May: Becoming more loving and inclusive

Course description provided by presenter Tim McElwee: My conviction is that when we, as members of the church, refuse to see and affirm every sister and brother—no matter their sexual orientation—as equals in the eyes of God, we do violence to them and we harm ourselves. Regarding matters of human sexuality, the Church of the Brethren was not of one mind in 1983 when Annual Conference narrowly adopted our major statement on this issue. We are not of one mind more than 40 years later. Can we set aside our disagreements about matters of human sexuality and, with mutual respect, truly love one another? What impedes us from loving more inclusively? Are we protecting positions of power and privilege? Do we fear change? To become more loving and faithful disciples of Christ, are we willing to take on the task of bearing divine love and risk the possibility of unknown challenges? Are we willing to reflect God’s gift of unconditional love and yield to Jesus’s call of inclusive love?

In these sessions, McElwee will lead a discussion of the above and related questions. He first joined the church at age 16 at Warrensburg (Mo.) Church of the Brethren. He later served on the denominational staff as director of what is now known as the Office of Peacebuilding and Policy. At Manchester University in North Manchester, Ind., he served for four years as campus pastor, for eight years as a fundraiser, for five years on the faculty as director of the Peace Studies Institute, and for one year as administrator of the academic affairs department. He served as the 2023 Annual Conference moderator, and currently as immediate past moderator he is a member of the Standing Committee of district delegates to the Conference. He was an ordained Church of the Brethren minister for 12 years and was a part-time chaplain at Timbercrest Retirement Community in North Manchester, where he served a term on the board of directors. He also has served on the Eder Financial board and on the SERRV board and currently serves on the New Community Project board. He holds a bachelor’s degree in peace studies and religion/philosophy from Manchester University, a master of divinity degree from Bethany Seminary, and a master’s degree and a doctorate in international relations from Purdue University.

Continuing education credit (CEU) is available for $10 per course. The registration process includes an opportunity to pay for CEUs and give an optional donation to the Ventures program. For more information and to register, go to

— Kendra Flory is advancement assistant at McPherson College.


Find more Church of the Brethren news:

[gt-link lang="en" label="English" widget_look="flags_name"]