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Columbia Theological Seminary faculty members awarded Lilly Theological Research Grants



Decatur, GA. The Association of Theological Schools (ATS) has awarded Lilly Theological Research Grants to Kimberly Bracken Long and Haruko Nawata Ward of Columbia Theological Seminary. Supported by the Lilly Endowment, the grants program is in its fourteenth year. Twenty-two grants were awarded this year.

Dr. Ward is associate professor of church history. In her research project, she will study the Christian theology of martyrdom as manifested among women martyrs in the Jesuit mission in Japan (1549-1650). Through the analysis of primary source texts, both published and archival, she will examine how women martyrs in Japan appropriated the Jesuit missionary theology of martyrdom in their Shinto-Buddhist-Confucian contexts. Her project expands the comparative study of early modern martyr theology beyond Europe to Japan where the state executed 20,000 Christians. She will conduct some of her archival research in Rome and Portugal. 

Through her research, and informed by current sociological analyses of marriage and civil unions, the history of Christian marriage rites, and important Protestant and Roman Catholic theologies of marriage, Dr. Long will construct a practical theology of Christian marriage for churches in North America. Through bibliographic and ethnographic research, she will re-think the church’s involvement in weddings and offer a distinctively Christian understanding of marriage that is rooted in baptismal vocation and is eschatological in nature. 

Columbia Theological Seminary, located in Decatur, GA, was established in 1828 and is one of 10 theological institutions of the Presbyterian Church (USA). The seminary offers seven graduate degree programs: Master of Divinity, Master of Arts (Theological Studies), Master of Arts in Practical Theology, Master of Theology, Doctor of Ministry, Doctor of Educational Ministry, and Doctor of Theology in Pastoral Counseling. Currently 421 students are enrolled, representing 30 denominations, 34 states, and 10 countries. For more information, visit

Michael Thompson
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