MEET OUR

FACULTY

Ask any Columbia alum what they value most a few years after graduating, and you are likely to hear the name of a faculty member who made a profound impact. Our faculty play an enormously important role in every student’s journey. Through their teaching, mentorship, and constant encouragement, Columbia’s professors work each day to cultivate the knowledge and skills necessary for their students to lead meaningful lives and pursue impactful vocations. Our faculty represent a diverse array of backgrounds, academic interests, and denominational identities, but they all share a common calling to form the next generation of leaders for the church and world.

You can find a comprehensive directory of Columbia’s faculty here, but read below for introductions to a few of the world-class scholars, wise mentors, and passionate teachers who comprise the Columbia faculty. Each and every one is eager to meet you.

Meet Our Faculty!
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Dr. Brennan W. Breed

Associate Professor of Old Testament

Dr. Breed’s vocational journey began in a rather inconspicuous place: a local bookstore in Virginia Beach. As a recent college graduate and part-time youth minister, Dr. Breed was searching for a resource to help him develop a Bible study and happened upon a commentary on Genesis written by Walter Brueggemann, a now-retired professor at Columbia Theological Seminary. “I ordered a coffee and started to skim,” Dr. Breed recalls. “A few hours later, I realized that I had read most of the book – and that the restless employees were ready to close the store!” Those few hours helped to clarify God’s call for Dr. Breed. “I realized that I wanted to dedicate my life to learning to read the Bible, to write about it, and to teach it like Brueggemann did – namely, with a deep conviction that the Bible speaks to our contemporary world, both diagnosing many of our ills and offering an alternative path of generative liberation and true peace.” Now teaching at the same institution Dr. Brueggemann called home many years before, Dr. Breed’s genuine love for his work is evident to the students with whom he works. “I strive to bring an energy to the classroom that helps the seemingly outdated, dusty and droning words of the Old Testament spring to life,” he says. “I hope that students emerge with the tools they need to read and teach the texts of the Bible as the vibrant, passionate witness of many different voices that are all straining to describe their encounters with the God of all creation.”

Dr. Brennan W. Breed

Associate Professor of Old Testament

Dr. Breed’s vocational journey began in a rather inconspicuous place: a local bookstore in Virginia Beach. As a recent college graduate and part-time youth minister, Dr. Breed was searching for a resource to help him develop a Bible study and happened upon a commentary on Genesis written by Walter Brueggemann, a now-retired professor at Columbia Theological Seminary. “I ordered a coffee and started to skim,” Dr. Breed recalls. “A few hours later, I realized that I had read most of the book – and that the restless employees were ready to close the store!” Those few hours helped to clarify God’s call for Dr. Breed. “I realized that I wanted to dedicate my life to learning to read the Bible, to write about it, and to teach it like Brueggemann did – namely, with a deep conviction that the Bible speaks to our contemporary world, both diagnosing many of our ills and offering an alternative path of generative liberation and true peace.” Now teaching at the same institution Dr. Brueggemann called home many years before, Dr. Breed’s genuine love for his work is evident to the students with whom he works. “I strive to bring an energy to the classroom that helps the seemingly outdated, dusty and droning words of the Old Testament spring to life,” he says. “I hope that students emerge with the tools they need to read and teach the texts of the Bible as the vibrant, passionate witness of many different voices that are all straining to describe their encounters with the God of all creation.”

Dr. Anna Carter Florence

Peter Marshall Professor of Preaching

As a teacher, there are three things Dr. Anna Carter Florence is most passionate about: preaching, Scripture, and helping students fall in love with both. Approaching Scripture as a living and dynamic word, Dr. Carter Florence wants her students to experience the text with their whole bodies every time they gather together and read it. "Preaching classes at Columbia are workshop environments, and we set a big table," she says. "Everyone is working on the particular skills they need, whether they're seasoned preachers or brand-new ones, to become the authentic proclaimers God has called them to be." While the biblical text is central to that task, Dr. Carter Florence acknowledges and celebrates the rich diversity of experiences and expectations her students bring with them into the pulpit. "Everything begins with Scripture and grows from there. What that means may look different for each one of us; what that looks and sounds like in our sermons will be different for each one of us; but it underscores a commitment, a hope, a sure knowledge that when Scripture is the starting point, we have a strong place to build and a strong partner to wrestle with."

Dr. Anna Carter Florence

Peter Marshall Professor of Preaching

As a teacher, there are three things Dr. Anna Carter Florence is most passionate about: preaching, Scripture, and helping students fall in love with both. Approaching Scripture as a living and dynamic word, Dr. Carter Florence wants her students to experience the text with their whole bodies every time they gather together and read it. "Preaching classes at Columbia are workshop environments, and we set a big table," she says. "Everyone is working on the particular skills they need, whether they're seasoned preachers or brand-new ones, to become the authentic proclaimers God has called them to be." While the biblical text is central to that task, Dr. Carter Florence acknowledges and celebrates the rich diversity of experiences and expectations her students bring with them into the pulpit. "Everything begins with Scripture and grows from there. What that means may look different for each one of us; what that looks and sounds like in our sermons will be different for each one of us; but it underscores a commitment, a hope, a sure knowledge that when Scripture is the starting point, we have a strong place to build and a strong partner to wrestle with."

Dr. Marcia Y. Riggs

J. Erskine Love Professor of Christian Ethics

As Columbia’s first Black tenured faculty member, Dr. Riggs’ impact on campus has been enormous. In fact, her legacy is literally carved in stone above the entrance to Marcia Y. Riggs Commons, a dormitory building renamed in her honor during the summer of 2020. It is fitting that the building adorned with Dr. Riggs’ name would serve as a place of connection and respite for students - she strives to cultivate a similarly inviting, authentic, and communal environment within her classroom. After experiencing covert and overt racism in her career, Dr. Riggs began to reimagine her work not as a lecturer but instead as a facilitator of learning. Doing so requires her to bring her full and authentic self into the classroom each day, and she encourages her students to do the same. “For me, teaching and learning are interdependent and interconnected,” Dr. Riggs says. “Theologically, I release my control of who I am as a teacher and allow the Holy Spirit to guide me and the classroom as a space of co-learning”. Countless generations of Columbia students can attest to the transformational impact of learning and laboring alongside Dr. Riggs.

Dr. Marcia Y. Riggs

J. Erskine Love Professor of Christian Ethics

As Columbia’s first Black tenured faculty member, Dr. Riggs’ impact on campus has been enormous. In fact, her legacy is literally carved in stone above the entrance to Marcia Y. Riggs Commons, a dormitory building renamed in her honor during the summer of 2020. It is fitting that the building adorned with Dr. Riggs’ name would serve as a place of connection and respite for students - she strives to cultivate a similarly inviting, authentic, and communal environment within her classroom. After experiencing covert and overt racism in her career, Dr. Riggs began to reimagine her work not as a lecturer but instead as a facilitator of learning. Doing so requires her to bring her full and authentic self into the classroom each day, and she encourages her students to do the same. “For me, teaching and learning are interdependent and interconnected,” Dr. Riggs says. “Theologically, I release my control of who I am as a teacher and allow the Holy Spirit to guide me and the classroom as a space of co-learning”. Countless generations of Columbia students can attest to the transformational impact of learning and laboring alongside Dr. Riggs.

Dr. Lisa M. Weaver

Assistant Professor of Worship

For Dr. Lisa Weaver, the focus of her research and teaching – worship in the Christian church – is also her life’s passion. Much of her current scholarship focuses on the liturgical practices of enslaved people of African descent during the American colonial period, and she employs the fruits of this research both within and beyond the classroom. “I am interested in how the embodied rituals of these communities might inspire or inform our practice of worship in the 21st century” she says. Working as an advisor and liturgical consultant with numerous ecumenical organizations, Dr. Weaver assists worshiping communities “in serving this present age” by helping them to reimagine worship in more theological, catechetical, formative, and inclusive ways. She also works directly with pastors and congregations to examine and analyze their worship practices, making theological and pedagogical recommendations for strengthening those practices. These real-world experiences help to shape her teaching inside the Columbia classroom, where she’s committed to forming a new generation of rooted and innovative worship leaders.

Dr. Lisa M. Weaver

Assistant Professor of Worship

For Dr. Lisa Weaver, the focus of her research and teaching – worship in the Christian church – is also her life’s passion. Much of her current scholarship focuses on the liturgical practices of enslaved people of African descent during the American colonial period, and she employs the fruits of this research both within and beyond the classroom. “I am interested in how the embodied rituals of these communities might inspire or inform our practice of worship in the 21st century” she says. Working as an advisor and liturgical consultant with numerous ecumenical organizations, Dr. Weaver assists worshiping communities “in serving this present age” by helping them to reimagine worship in more theological, catechetical, formative, and inclusive ways. She also works directly with pastors and congregations to examine and analyze their worship practices, making theological and pedagogical recommendations for strengthening those practices. These real-world experiences help to shape her teaching inside the Columbia classroom, where she’s committed to forming a new generation of rooted and innovative worship leaders.

Dr. William Yoo

Associate Professor of American Religious History

As a historian, Dr. Yoo believes that examining the insights and experiences of so-called “common” persons is just as important as investigating the documents and narratives of the “great” men holding power in government, industry, and religious institutions. With an eye to those on the margins, he describes the practice of studying history together in a seminary classroom as both inspiring and heartbreaking. “It is a joy to introduce my students to the myriad ways some Christians in previous eras proclaimed good news to the poor and enacted liberation for the oppressed. But we also must confront the deep wounds of racism, sexism, classism, nativism, and heterosexism, and the responsibility of other Christians in propagating and exacerbating these terrible injustices.” Given these tensions and possibilities imbedded within the study of Christian history, Dr. Yoo describes his teaching as a “long and hard journey” which he and his students travel together. “Some of the pathways we trod are exhilarating whereas other parts of the journey require courage and determination. Although the journey is not for the faint of heart, what I love most about teaching is the wondrous opportunity to learn together. Every student is a new companion and I am constantly gleaning new insights from their observations, perspectives, questions, and testimonies.”

Dr. William Yoo

Associate Professor of American Religious and Cultural History

As a historian, Dr. Yoo believes that examining the insights and experiences of so-called “common” persons is just as important as investigating the documents and narratives of the “great” men holding power in government, industry, and religious institutions. With an eye to those on the margins, he describes the practice of studying history together in a seminary classroom as both inspiring and heartbreaking. “It is a joy to introduce my students to the myriad ways some Christians in previous eras proclaimed good news to the poor and enacted liberation for the oppressed. But we also must confront the deep wounds of racism, sexism, classism, nativism, and heterosexism, and the responsibility of other Christians in propagating and exacerbating these terrible injustices.” Given these tensions and possibilities imbedded within the study of Christian history, Dr. Yoo describes his teaching as a “long and hard journey” which he and his students travel together. “Some of the pathways we trod are exhilarating whereas other parts of the journey require courage and determination. Although the journey is not for the faint of heart, what I love most about teaching is the wondrous opportunity to learn together. Every student is a new companion and I am constantly gleaning new insights from their observations, perspectives, questions, and testimonies.”

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