THE REVEREND WALTRINA N. MIDDLETON was appointed as the third Associate Dean of the historic Andrew Rankin Memorial Chapel, with an emphasis on community building and expanding the chapel’s social justice engagement beyond the campus and in the world. This was demonstrated in her co-leading Howard University students on a sojourn of healing to Charlottesville, VA in response to acts of racialized violence there that resulted in the loss of life by white supremacist groups. Rev. Middleton introduced inclusive language and an emphasis on womanism and radical hospitality at Rankin, creating safe spaces for LGBTQi students and insisting on more visible roles for women and LGBTQi preachers on the chapel’s academic roster of speakers. Rev. Middleton fostered ecumenical and interfaith partnerships and dialogues and helped to expand the University’s Alternative Spring Break program to include the Lumbee Nation in Lumberton, NC (Water Justice and Human Rights) and the Middle East (Apartheid and Militarized Occupation). Rev. Middleton, an alumna of Howard University, proudly built upon that legacy and served passionately for and with students.
Maintaining her commitment to human rights advocacy and social justice activism, Rev. Middleton is founder and organizer of Walk on Water Global Ministries, Diaspora Dialogues, and Cleveland Action, respectively.
Cleveland Action, a bridge organization and resource in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, traveled recently with the World Council of Churches to bear witness at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland on police brutality and state sanctioned violence. Diaspora Dialogues is launching cultural immersions to Palestine, Brazil, and Cuba beginning in the spring of 2018.
Rev. Middleton’s advocacy work addresses systemic cultures of violence and racism against marginalized communities from Charleston, SC and Cleveland, OH to Hebron, Palestine and Sao Paulo, Brazil. She is a griot poet, activist, vocalist, social critic, community organizer and healer committed to actualizing the vision of a Beloved community.
Rev. Middleton, a passionate preacher and keynote, has been invited to share this vision and message of faith, love and justice in diverse settings across the world including the World Council of Churches Forum on Peace and Justice in Trondheim, Norway; National Council of Churches; The Carter Center; Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference; Ecumenical Advocacy Days; Churches Uniting in Christ; Coalition of Black Trade Unionists; and as a part of a United Nations delegation addressing U.S. drug policies and mass incarceration.
Recently, Rev. Middleton was recognized by Rejuvenate Magazine as one of its 40 Under 40 Professionals to Watch in Non-Profit Religious Sector and Center for American Progress’ “16 to Watch in 2016”. In the summer of 2015, she was awarded the Jonathan M. Daniels Memorial Fellowship by the Episcopal Divinity School to support a research project on the parallels between activism, arts and lament in the Black Live Movement in the US and anti-apartheid movement in Palestine.
She is the inaugural Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. Fellowship Scholar and one of the inaugural William “Bill” Lucy Social Justice and Globalization Fellows, both received while matriculating as a Master of Divinity Student at Chicago Theological Seminary where she graduated with distinction. Her Master’s thesis explored “Reconciling a God of the Oppressed: A Look at Sexual Abuse, Rape, Incest and Other Forms of Sexual Exploitation Within the Black Church”.
She is a proud alumna of DePaul University (MS, 2007)and Howard University (BA,2002).
She served in the National Setting of the United Church of Christ (Cleveland, OH) for six years (2010-2016) as its National Minister for Youth Advocacy and Leadership Formation and the Program Director for the denomination’s National Youth Event which brought together 4,000 youth from across the country and four continents. In that role, Rev. Middleton helped transform the youth conference to go deeper, centering not only on faith and leadership; but also service and social justice, challenging youth participants(ages 13 to 18) to imagine themselves as the future today and not just tomorrow.
The program witnessed significant growth in attendance under Rev. Middleton’s tenure, challenged and influenced the national setting’s involvement on issues including Black Lives Matter and racialized violence, Same Gender Loving Families and their children and global human rights advocacy issues such as Immigration and HIV/AIDS and “Bring Back Our Girls” in Nigeria. Rev. Middleton produced three biennial General Synod programs for youth and young adults (Tampa, Long Beach, and Cleveland) and two quadrennial National Youth Events (Purdue University and Walt Disney World), respectively.
As a minister in the local church setting, Rev. Middleton served on the staff of Trinity United Church of Christ under the leadership of Senior Pastor, Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III and Pastor Emeritus, Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr.
Additionally, she is proud of the mentorship of the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference and its General Secretary, Dr. Iva E. Carruthers.
She holds fast to the principles of Ubuntu which declares, “I am because we are. We are because God is.”