Rev. Irene Monroe


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The Rev. Irene Monroe is a religion columnist, public theologian, and motivational speaker. Monroe was recently featured on the Caroline Myss's Show "The Journey" (February 2002) as women you "got the power", and in OPRAH Magazine (Sept. 2001) as " a phenomenal woman who has succeeded against all odds."

As an African American feminist theologian, she has spoken for a sector of society that is frequently invisible. Monroe has been a sought-after speaker, preacher and writer about women's and gender issues. She has conducted workshops on women's healing, bodies and spirituality. Her workshop "Sacred Sexualities" has been conducted across the country at places like The Institute for Body, Mind and Spirituality in Cambridge, and at the premier spirituality and holistic retreat center, Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, NY.

Monroe writes a biweekly column, "The Religion Thang", for In Newsweekly, a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender newspaper that circulates widely throughout New England, and a monthly column online "Queer Take" for The Witness magazine, an Episcopalian journal that examines church and society in light of faith and conscience. Monroe is also a contributing editor to The Witness.

Also Monroe has written a spirituality column for Venus Magazine, a magazine for people of African descent "in the life" and was the 2002 guest columnist for Open Hands, a religious queer magazine. Her writings have also appeared in The Advocate - "A Garden of Homophobia" (December 9, 1997 issue) and in The Boston Globe - "The Unacknowledged Roots of American Slavery" (March 15, 1998).

Monroe is a doctoral candidate in the Religion, Gender and Culture program at Harvard Divinity School in Cambridge, Mass., and a Ford Foundation fellow. She is also the head teaching fellow of the Rev. Peter Gomes, the Pusey Minister in the Memorial Church at Harvard University who is the author of the best seller, The Good Book.

Monroe has written extensively on African American gay and lesbian history, African American sexuality, and anti-Semitism in both the black Christian and black Muslim communities. Her award-winning essay, "Louis Farrakhan's Ministry of Misogyny and Homophobia", was greeted with critical acclaim.

Monroe has given talks on women's issues such as " Opening Communication: Talking Across our Differences as Women" at the National Association for Women in Education, "When Women Move to Connect, We Find Ourselves in a Dominant Culture of Disconnection" at the Theological Opportunities Program at Harvard Divinity School, and "Women's Ways of Reading Biblical Text: Subversive and Empowering Strategies for Marginalized and Oppressed People" at University of Massachusetts in Boston. She has also written, taught and spoken on women's topics such as women's healing, bodies, and spirituality. Monroe's workshops "Debunking the Notion of a Hierarchy of Oppressions" and "The Conceptual Trap of Whiteness" have been well received on college campuses, and at national conferences.

Monroe has been invited to speak or appear on panels at dozens of universities, events and conferences, including at Harvard with David Gergen, White House adviser to four presidents and former editor of U.S. News and World Report on the topic of "Moral Leadership in the 21st Century," MIT, Brandeis, the American Academy of Religion, Penn State, Brown, Yale, John Hopkins, and the National Conference of Christians and Jews. She gave a baccalaureate address at Vassar. In addition, she has preached in many churches, including Harvard's Memorial Church, The Riverside Church in New York City, and San Francisco's Metropolitan Community Church.

Monroe has received a number of honors and awards for her achievements. Examples include The Cambridge Peace and Justice Award, the Boston Certificate of Recognition for continued leadership and dedication to Boston's Gay and Lesbian Community, the Harvard University Certificate of Distinction in Teaching, and she was bestowed the honor of being grand marshal in the Boston Pride Celebration. Monroe was profiled in the September 2001 issue of O, Oprah Magazine. In 1998, she was profiled in Out Magazine as Out 100: The People Who Rocked 1998, profiled twice in The Boston Globe, in the Living Arts and The Spiritual Life sections, and in June 1999 she was profiled in the Gay Pride Episode of "In the Life TV" which was nominated for an Emmy. In 1997 Boston Magazine cited her as one of Boston's 50 Most Intriguing Women.

Also, Monroe was a board member for the Millennium March on Washington 2000, which took place on April 30, 2000, and she is a national speaker for the American Program Bureau. Her papers are at the Schlesinger Library at Radcliffe College's research library on the history of women in America.

A native of Brooklyn, Monroe graduated from Wellesley College and Union Theological Seminary at Columbia University, and served as a pastor at an African American church in New Jersey before going to Harvard. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

(This biographical statement provided by Irene Monroe.)

Additional Resources

Collection:  Monroe, Irene

Biography: August, 2002