fred-bahnson-newFred Bahnson, Director

BA, Montana State University
MTS, Duke Divinity School

Bahnson’s research and teaching focus on the intersection of ecology, agriculture, and contemplative spirituality. In his co-authored book Making Peace With the Land, he explored how the scriptural vision of Christ’s reconciliation is not limited to people, but rather is cosmic in scope, which leads to practical implications for agriculture and ecological restoration. His book Soil and Sacrament tells the story of the church-supported community garden he co-founded in 2005, as well as describing his more recent pilgrimage among four agrarian faith communities—Trappist, Protestant, Jewish, and Pentecostal. Part spiritual autobiography, part narrative journalism, Soil and Sacrament was described by Kirkus in its starred review as “A profound, moving treatise on finding God in gardening.” He continues to explore the use of literary nonfiction as a distinct theological genre, and is currently at work on a book that will articulate a contemplative response to climate change.

Below is a video of Fred speaking at TEDx Manhattan, Changing the Way We Eat, in February 2013.


Program Faculty

jill-crainshaw-newJill Crainshaw, Blackburn Professor of Worship and Liturgical Theology, emphasizes in her writing and teaching how Christian worship and leadership arise from and return to human experience. Her current research includes visiting local bakeries, wineries, and community gardens to gain a deeper understanding of how worship’s sacramental elements are connected to local fields and farmers, waters and artisans. This research is the subject of a forthcoming book, Savoring Places, Saving Graces: Liturgy Distilled from Everyday Life (The Liturgical Press)Crainshaw’s teaching focuses on intersections between religious leadership and sustainability, social justice, and “grounded” human experiences. Crainshaw is the program director for the School of Divinity’s clergy leadership program, Clergy Making a Place: Early Career Pastors as Generative Community Leaders, funded through the Lilly Endowment, Inc. She is an ordained teaching elder in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Crainshaw is a regular contributor to Patheos’ Unfundamentalist Christians and The New Verse News, an online publisher of “politically progressive poetry on current events and topical issues.” Crainshaw recently edited Uncommon Words, Common Worship (Library Partners Press, WFU), a book featuring student liturgical writing completed as part of a course project.

Course taught with an emphasis on food, health, and ecology:

  • Roots and Branches: Eco-Judaism in Context


derek-hicks-newDerek Hicks, Assistant Professor of Religion and Culture, teaches and researches broadly in the areas of African American religion, religion in North America, race, the body, religion and foodways, theory and method in the study of religion, Black and Womanist theologies, and cultural studies. Currently he serves as co-chair of the Religion and Food Group at the American Academy of Religion. Dr. Hicks is the author of the book Reclaiming Spirit in the Black Faith Tradition (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012). He is currently working on a second monograph entitled Feeding Flesh and Spirit: Religion, Food, and the Saga of Race in Black America (under review with UNC Press). In addition, he served as assistant editor of the volume entitled African American Religious Cultures (ABC-CLIO Press). He also contributed chapters for the books Blacks and Whites in Christian America: How Racial Discrimination Shapes Religious Convictions (New York University Press, 2012) and to the edited volume Religion, Food, and Eating in North America (Columbia University Press, 2014). In support of his scholarship, Dr. Hicks has been awarded fellowships and grants from the Ford Foundation, the Fund for Theological Education, the Louisville Institute, the Henry Luce Foundation, and the Wabash Center.

Course taught with an emphasis on food, health, and ecology:

  • Culinary Culture in Black Religious Experience


mark-jensen-newMark Jensen, Teaching Professor in Pastoral Care and Pastoral Theology, completed PhD work was in Pastoral Care, Psychology of Religion, and Theology, and his current research and teaching interests lie at the intersections of faith, health, food systems, sustainability, and community. He helps lead the concentrations in Well-Being and Religious Leadership (Food and Faith, Faith and Health of the Public), is the faculty liaison for the joint degree in counseling, and leads the school’s annual travel course to Nicaragua in partnership with AMOS Health and Hope. Jensen is a Certified Supervisor with the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education and serves as a Chaplain Supervisor in the Division of FaithHealth at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.  He recently received a grant from Blue Cross Blue Shield North Carolina, along with colleagues in Public Health Sciences, to conduct asset mapping on food pathways in Forsyth County.  Jensen serves on the Executive Committee of the Forsyth County Food Consortium, a regional food policy council, and leads a Task Force on International Issues for the Association of Clinical Pastoral Education.

Course(s) taught with an emphasis on food, health, and ecology:

  • Food, Faith, Health & Community
  • Multicultural Contexts for Ministry: Nicaragua