Rev. Dr. Waltrina N. Middleton
Community Renewal Society
Community Renewal Society’s 13th Executive Director, Rev. Dr. Waltrina N. Middleton, a passionate preacher and keynote speaker, has shared a vision and message of faith, love and justice in diverse settings across the world, including the World Council of Churches Forum on Peace and Justice in Trondheim, Norway; National Council of Churches; The Carter Center; Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, Churches Uniting in Christ, Coalition of Black Trade Unionists; Ecumenical Advocacy Days; and as a part of a United Nations delegation addressing U.S. drug policies and mass incarceration.
Maintaining a commitment to human rights advocacy and social justice activism, Rev. Middleton established Walk on Water Global Ministries, Diaspora Dialogues, and Cleveland Action, respectively, in response to systemic needs in their community and society at-large. Cleveland Action, a bridge organization and resource in solidarity with Black Lives Matter's Movement for Black Lives, traveled with World Council of Churches to bear witness at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland on police brutality and state sanctioned violence against Black and Brown people in the United States. Diaspora Dialogues provide cultural immersion "Come and See" experiences, linking students, organizers and activists from the United States to their global counterparts in the occupied State of Palestine. Rev. Middleton’s advocacy work engages marginalized communities from Black Hills, SD and Charleston, SC to Hebron, Palestine and Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Rev. Middleton was appointed as the third Associate Dean of the historic Andrew Rankin Memorial Chapel, with an emphasis on community building and expanding the chapel’s social justice engagement beyond the campus. This was demonstrated in their co-leading Howard University students on a sojourn of healing to Charlottesville, VA in response to acts of racialized violence there that resulted in the loss of life by white supremacist groups. Rev. Middleton introduced inclusive language and an emphasis on womanism and radical hospitality at Rankin, creating safe spaces for LGBTQi students and insisting on more visible roles for women and LGBTQi preachers on the chapel’s academic roster of speakers. Rev. Middleton fostered ecumenical and interfaith partnerships and dialogues and helped to expand the University’s Alternative Spring Break program to include the Lumbee Nation in Lumberton, NC (Water Justice and Human Rights) and the Middle East (Apartheid and Militarized Occupation).
Honors bestowed upon Rev. Middleton include recognition by Rejuvenate Magazine's "40 Under 40 Professionals to Watch in Non-Profit Religious Sector", Center for American Progress’ “16 to Watch in 2016” and the "Jonathan M. Daniels Memorial Fellowship" by the Episcopal Divinity School in support of research on the parallels between activism and lament in the Black Lives Matter Movement in the US and anti-apartheid movement in Palestine. Rev. Middleton is the inaugural Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr. Fellowship Scholar and one of the inaugural William “Bill” Lucy Social Justice and Globalization Fellows, both received while matriculating as a Master of Divinity Student at Chicago Theological Seminary where they graduated with distinction. Their Master’s thesis explored “Reconciling a God of the Oppressed: A Look at Sexual Abuse, Rape, Incest and Other Forms of Sexual Exploitation Within the Black Church.” They earned a Doctorate of Ministry from the historic Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School of Rochester, NY.
Dr. Middleton served in the national setting of the United Church of Christ (Cleveland, OH) for six years as its National Minister for Youth Advocacy and Leadership Formation and the Program Director for the denomination’s National Youth Event, which brought together nearly 4,000 youth from across the country and four continents. In that role, Rev. Middleton helped transform the youth conference, centering not only on faith and leadership; but also service and social justice, challenging youth participants (ages 13 to 18) to imagine themselves as the future today and not just tomorrow. The program witnessed significant growth in attendance under Middleton's tenure, challenged and influenced the national setting’s involvement on issues including race, poverty, systemic violence, global human rights advocacy issues and the intersections of LGBTQi rights and race.
Dr. Middleton served on staff of Trinity United Church of Christ, Chicago and led efforts around earth justice, creation care and its connection to urban centers and food deserts.
As a poet, activist, vocalist, social critic, community organizer and healer committed to actualizing the vision of a Beloved community; Middleton holds fast to the principles of Ubuntu, which declares, “I am because we are. We are because God is.”