Deacon Joan Crawford
The Reverend Joan Crawford is a Spiritual Director, Deacon and Benedictine Oblate. I consider myself a “Methodist-Catholic-Quaker” having been christened in the African Methodist Episcopal Zion (AME) Church; baptized in the Roman Catholic Church; committed to a Benedictine community as an Oblate; and for many years an attender/member of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). When I shared my background with a leading pastor in the C.M.E. church she exclaimed, “Girl, you just like church!” I responded, “Yes, I guess I do.” Indeed, I have been formed and continue to be shaped by each of these denominations. And I feel so blessed to be able to worship and to commune with each.
Besides church I loved attending seminary. In 1999 I received a Masters in Theology with an emphasis in Spirituality from Northern Baptist Theological Seminary, Lombard, Illinois. My thesis was entitled a “Womanist Approach to Retreat Ministry”. This was followed by a Certificate in Spiritual Direction from the Siena Spiritual Guidance Training Program in Racine, Wisconsin. Years before I had received advanced degrees in Speech-Language Pathology and Education Administration
When I retired from special education administration in 2014 and relocated to Arizona, I thought it was solely to be closer to my grandchildren. I soon found out that God had additional things in mind for me.
• In 2017 I was ordained a deacon in the Ecumenical Catholic Communion (ECC) and since that time have led the ECC Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
• Facilitated Anti-Racism Workshops for White faith communities.
• Served as a board member with the Arizona Interfaith Network (AFN). Through AFN I have learned that interfaith collaboration is crucial for transformative justice.
• Presented Workshops on Howard Thurman to church groups.
So, what now for an African American woman (she/her) who finds herself an ordained Christian cleric? Is she a contemplative-activist or an activist with contemplative longings? Neither. I am a contemplative, visionary, and social justice advocate on a mission to bring what John Crossan calls, Malkuta* (a companionship of empowerment) to all communities regardless of Christian denominations or faith traditions. To teach others the various ways to love God and to love one another in the spirit of Malkuta has become my passion and calling.