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The Reverend Dr. Dennis W. Wiley, a native of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, recently retired from pastoring the Covenant Baptist United Church of Christ in Washington, DC for thirty-two years. A prominent community activist, distinguished liberation theologian, and gifted musician, this pastor/scholar has consistently sought to bridge the three-way divide between the church, the academy, and the community. He believes that if the church, or any other entity, is serious about building “the Beloved Community” in society, it must model it within its own fellowship.
As a prophetic trailblazer for freedom, justice, and equality for all, Dr. Wiley believes that the intersectionality of oppression compels him to confront not only racism, but all forms of oppression, including ethnocentrism, classism, sexism, heterosexism, transphobia, ageism, ableism, and religious bigotry. Having successfully co-chaired D.C. Clergy United for Marriage Equality, he is currently a member of the Community Advisory Group of the Center on African American Religion, Sexual Politics, and Social Justice at Columbia University and the Racial Justice Advisory Committee of the Washington National Cathedral.
Dr. Wiley received the Bachelor of Arts degree magna cum laude from Harvard University, the Master of Divinity degree cum laude from Howard University, and the Master of Philosophy and Doctor of Philosophy degrees from the Union Theological Seminary in New York City. As a member of the American Academy of Religion, the Society for the Study of Black Religion, and the Black Religious Scholars Group, he has rendered theological presentations throughout the nation. He has also taught at Howard University School of Divinity and served as a member of the Board of Commissioners for the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada. Published in several major religious books, magazines, and journals, he is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including the “Beautiful Are Their Feet” award bestowed by the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference.
A gifted pianist, composer, and director, Dr. Wiley co-founded the acclaimed Kuumba Singers of Harvard College and organized the Voices of Unity of Covenant Church, culminating in the choir’s recording of a “live” album of his original gospel music. He was also a founding staff member of Washington’s celebrated Duke Ellington School of the Arts. In his quest to help all people realize their full potential, however, he considers his greatest gifts to be his beloved wife and partner in ministry, the Rev. Dr. Christine Wiley, and their three incredible children, Aiyana, Samira, and Joshua.