The Spirituality and Social Justice Cohort, a new project at the Rothko Chapel in Houston, TX, will convene eight newly announced leaders from the arts, academic, religious, and social justice sectors to further understanding of the relationship between spirituality and social justice advocacy.
The Rothko Chapel has announced a new Spirituality and Social Justice Cohort, a strategic planning project funded by the Henry Luce Foundation. The cohort, a group of eight change leaders, will begin convening virtually this summer and in person in 2021, to help further contemporary understandings about the spirituality-social justice relationship and how these can inform future directional aspects of the Chapel's programming and community engagement efforts.
Since its founding in 1971, the Rothko Chapel has operated at the vanguard of social justice, hosting symposia for scholars, activists and religious leaders from around the globe to engage in discussions on issues affecting human rights, and to work towards a culture of mutual understanding. Central to the Chapel’s mission is a deep commitment to support those who are marginalized and to strengthen collective efforts to address the world’s most divisive and difficult problems while also affirming the importance of spirituality as the bedrock for social transformation. The Rothko Chapel ensures that a diversity of religious and spiritual representatives, artists, and social change leaders representing distinct issues and community sectors are engaged in the design and presentation of its programming and community engagement initiatives.
Today, the Chapel is acutely aware that spirituality has diverse meanings and takes on many forms especially within the context of religious pluralism and the growing sector of ethically committed and socially engaged people who identify as "spiritual but not religious," as well as those who have no religious or spiritual belief. The Chapel’s commitment to supporting social change involves facilitating strategic dialogue on the connections between spirituality and social justice, including fostering discussions among different groups and community sectors. The Spirituality and Social Justice Cohort will allow the Chapel to continue to develop its role as a cultivator of the exchange of ideas, aimed at contributing to the growth of social justice efforts in Houston and beyond. The timing for the query is important as the Chapel celebrates its 50th Anniversary and prepares for an expanded campus as part of the Opening Spaces site development plan that includes the addition of a new program center.
The eight members of the cohort are recognized leaders in the arts, academic, religious and social justice sectors who will bring insight and experience to the interplay between spirituality and social justice movements. The project is being organized by Rothko Chapel’s Executive Director, David Leslie, MDiv, and Director of Programs and Community Engagement, Ashley Clemmer, MA, in collaboration with Rothko Chapel Advisor, Anthony B. Pinn, MDiv, PhD, the Agnes Cullen Arnold Professor of Humanities and Professor of Religious Studies at Rice University. The Chapel will share the results from the cohort efforts at the Chapel’s 2021 Spring Symposium, focused on the state of human rights in the US, and engage symposium participants in the ongoing framing of spirituality-social justice connections.