Marcia Y. Riggs

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Marcia Y. Riggs is an author, the J. Erskine Love Professor of Christian Ethics and Director of ThM Program at Columbia Theological Seminary, and a recognized authority on the black woman’s club movement of the nineteenth century.


Riggs graduated from Randolph-Macon Woman’s College, Lynchburg, VA in 1980 with a Bachelor of Arts in Religion. She then proceeded with her education to Yale Divinity School, New Haven, CT where she graduated with a Master of Divinity in 1983. In 1991, she earned her Doctor of Philosophy in Religion(ethics) from Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN.

Professional Life[edit]

After she graduated from Yale Divinity School she began working at Vanderbilt University as a teaching assistant and later a teaching fellow. However she soon moved to Drew University Theological School-Madison in New Jersey where she fulfilled the position of Instructor and Assistant Professor of Religion and Society. She has also taught at Pacific School of Religion in Claremont, CA and Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. At the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago she was a Co-Teacher and ACTS Doctor of Ministry in Preaching. At Columbia Theological Seminary she is currently the J. Erskine Love Professor of Christian Ethics and also holds the position of Director of the ThM Program. She has also worked outside of academics as an Associate Minister at Hemphill African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church in Summerville, Georgia.

In addition to these she is also very active in the community and is a sought after speaker. She is the President and Founder of Still Waters: A Center for Ethical Formation and Practices, Inc., a Not-for-Profit Educational Organization in Stone Mountain, GA. This organization is offering a certificate program in religious ethical mediation as well as a DMin program in theories and practices of conflict transformation in collaboration with New York Theological Seminary. She is also the Chair of the North American Doctoral Fellows Selection Committee for Fund for Theological Education, as well as previously the Chair of Womanist Approaches to Religion and Society Group for American Academy of Religion.

Throughout her career Riggs has also developed an ethical theory and practice called “religious ethical mediation.” Religious ethical mediation prepares leaders to address religion, conflict, and violence in a transformative manner.


In addition to writer several books, Riggs has also published numerous scholarly articles and lectures. Her books include:

  • Ethics That Matters: African, Caribbean, and African American Sources. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2011.
  • Can I Get a Witness? Prophetic Religious Voices of African American Women, An Anthology. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1997. *Awake, Arise, & Act: A Womanist Call for Black Liberation. Cleveland, OH: The Pilgrim Press, 1994.
  • Plenty Good Room: Women Versus Male Power in the Black Church. Cleveland, OH: The Pilgrim Press, 2003.
  • Ethics That Matters: African, Caribbean, and African Sources. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, Fall 2011

Riggs has served on the editorial boards for the Encyclopedia on Women and Religion in North America, the Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics, and the Feasting on the Word Lectionary Commentary Series.