UUCWC welcomes to the pulpit Pastor Tabatha Holley of the New Day Church, Bronx, NY. She/they shares, “In this post-election moment, I hope to call our attention to our collective capacity to sit in discomfort and disbelief, grandeur visions and unrealistic dreams . Calling attention to a piece from Walter Wink’s book My Struggle to Become Human: God In the World, we can be attentive to what we know to be true in this moment, rather than some contrived notions of faith, hope, and possibility. What does it mean to sit in the moment instead of rushing to the next? What is possible when we can name our “unrealistic” hopes, dreams, and wishes for the world? “
Born in Albany, Georgia, and raised in Dawson, Georgia, Tabatha (she/they) grew up in the home of her parents, the Reverend Ezekiel Holley and the late Mrs. Pauline J. Holley, who were community organizers and faith leaders of Southwest Georgia. She was a junior usher board member, choir member, and young liturgist at the Zion Hope Missionary Baptist Church of DeSoto, Georgia, and developed an interest in public speaking, organizing and advocacy within the Georgia State Conference of the NAACP, the Terrell County Branch of the NAACP, and the General Missionary Baptist Convention of Georgia (GMBC) .
After graduating Valedictorian of the Class of 2012 from the Terrell Middle High School, Tabatha pursued a Bachelor of Arts in Comparative Women’s Studies at the illustrious Spelman College in Atlanta. Tabatha listened to the voice of the spirit calling her to the pulpit while sitting in the pews of Sisters Chapel during her first week of college orientation. She became a Chapel Assistant on campus and did not look back. In her time at Spelman, she was a Bonner scholar, a WISDOM scholar, an intern for the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus, a UNCF Mellon Mays Fellow, and a volunteer at the Open Door Community. She traveled abroad and did service learning trips in the Bahamas, Ghana, and India. Two of the most meaningful experiences of her time in college was being her father’s campaign manager in his bid for State House Representative (D-151) and serving as a volunteer at the Open Door Community in Atlanta, GA. Both of these experiences challenged her to deepen her solidarity with the Southern working class, homeless folx, addicts, immigrants, prisoners, and folx on death row. It was in these experiences that Tabatha came to know Jesus Christ in a new and much more profound way—through the lens of the oppressed and through the lens of her own identity as a black, queer, cash-poor person from the rural South. As a first generation college student, Tabatha was inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society, and graduated from Spelman in 2016.
After graduation, she moved to New York City and enrolled at Union Theological Seminary where she received her Masters of Divinity degree with a concentration in Preaching, Worship, and the Arts. During the 2018-19 school year, her time as an intern with United Methodist Women gave her the confidence and tools to be a thoughtful and meaningful Christian educator. Tabatha founded the Practical Theology Caucus at Union and was recipient of the 2020 Karen Ziegler Feminist Preaching Prize.
Tabatha is passionate about preaching, teaching, and building power with friends and political comrades on the margins. In her spare time, she enjoys reading novels, discovering the best foods in the city, and traveling.
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