Pamela Lightsey is a scholar, social justice activist, and military veteran whose academic and research interests include classical and contemporary just war theory, Womanist theology, Queer theory and theology, and African American religious history and theologies. Dr. Lightsey is currently the only out, African American, queer lesbian ordained as an elder in full connection in the United Methodist Church. Pamela served as Associate Pastor of a church in south Georgia, as Senior Pastor of an urban church on the south side of Chicago, and has done work for several United Methodist general agencies.
As an activist, Dr. Lightsey has worked within the LGBTQ community to end Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell military policy, and to ensure marriage equality; she continues to critique churches for homophobic polity, liturgy, and homiletics. Pamela was on the ground protesting against excessive police force during the first 21 days of unrest in Ferguson, Missouri and was one of several livestreamers providing ongoing broadcasts across a one year period. She also worked in Orlando in the weeks following the Pulse shooting. Dr. Lightsey has consistently collaborated with activist-colleagues in the movement for the liberation of black lives, those addressing violence against black transwomen, and institutional racism on college campuses.
Currently serving as co-chair of the American Academy of Religion’s Womanist Approaches to Religion and Society Group, Dr. Lightsey helps lead the work of the steering committee to develop their annual conference sessions dedicated to privileging the theological and ethical scholarship and experiences of black women in America. She was among the first members of the Executive Committee for the Soul Repair Project which studies the role of moral injury in veterans. The project is funded by several sources, including a Lilly Endowment grant, and is directed by feminist scholar Dr. Rita Nakashima Brock. The story of her son Dweylon’s experience as an Iraq war veteran is included in Nakashima Brock and Lettini’s Soul Repair: Recovering from Moral Injury after War.
Pamela’s several publications include the full manuscript, Our Lives Matter: A Womanist Queer Theology (Wipf and Stock), “Reconciliation,” in Radical Evangelical (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company), and “Is Necessary Violence a Just Violence?” a review of Meagher’s "Killing From the Inside Out: Moral Injury and Just War" in Syndicate September/October 2015 (Cascade Books) and “If There Should Come a Word” in Black United Methodists Preach!