Alumni Spotlight: Kathleen Turner

December 9, 2013

In Their Own Words

Kathleen Turner (M.Div. ’08) writes

Following graduation from the ISM and YDS, I pursued the Ph.D. in religious education from the Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education at Fordham University., which was awarded last year. During that time, I taught a course entitled The Embodied Word at Drew Theological Seminary addressing the historical relationship between dance and the church.


My experiences have also included working as a religious education consultant for several churches,.  I have presented both scholarship and dance at several academic conferences, including the Religious Education Association (REA) Conference.  Last November, Yolanda Smith, Research Scholar at Yale Divinity School, invited me to perform liturgical dance before her presidential address at the REA gathering in Atlanta, GA.  Now I look forward to teaching full time, writing, and publishing, while continuing to pursue liturgical dance.


Among many cherished memories, the ISM study tour to the Balkans and Croatia in May 2008 stands out.  To witness diverse cultures, customs, churches, and a variety of sacred and musical forms was the chance of a lifetime, and I am grateful that the ISM provides this experience for its students. While on the tour, I had the opportunity to dance in one of the churches – an event made especially significant because so many of the congregants had never before seen liturgical dance.


My time at the ISM allowed me to study with incredible faculty members like Thomas Troeger and Margot Fassler.  Not only was I privileged to have them as professors for preaching and music history courses, but I had the great opportunity to work with both of them as a liturgical dancer for worship services in Marquand Chapel.  One fond memory is the service inaugurating the newly installed organ in Marquand.  The sermon was a collaboration between Professor Troeger as preacher, Martin Jean as organist, and me as liturgical dancer: The gifts of all three were incorporated to celebrate the new organ through word, music, and movement. Experiences such as these have helped me continue to push for creative collaborations and partnerships in my work.