Leah Gunning Francis


Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculty, and Associate Professor of Christian Education and Practical Theology

Phone: (317) 931-2308

Email: lgunningfrancis@cts.edu

Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, Evanston, IL
Doctor of Philosophy in Christian Education and Congregational Studies, May 2009
Dissertation:  Beyond Band-Aids and Bootstraps: Toward a Womanist Vision of Christian Education as Social Transformation

Candler School of Theology, Emory University, Atlanta, GA
Master of Divinity, 2001
Concentration in Christian Education and Pastoral Care
Recipient of the G. Ray Jordan Award in recognition of ministerial promise as demonstrated through excellence in integrating academic study with constructive leadership and service.

Hampton University, Hampton, VA
Bachelor of Science in Marketing, 1993
Marketing intern (Summer, 1990-93), Sun Company, through the INROADS internship and professional development program.


Ferguson and Faith: Sparking Leadership and Awakening Community, Chalice Press, 2015.

Transformative Mentoring as Redemptive Community in Educating for Redemptive Community, edited by
Denise Janssen, Wipf & Stock Publishers, Forthcoming 2015.

Bible Commentary, John 8:12 and 8:21 in Feasting on the Gospels, Westminster John Knox Press,
March 2015


Eden Theological Seminary
Associate Dean for Contextual Education, July 2014
Assistant Professor of Christian Education, July 2008-
Courses:  Theology and the Practices of Ministry (required), A Call to Oneness: A Practical Theology of Reconciliation, Teens and Tweens: Ministry with Youth in Church and Community, Sister Outsider?: Historical Perspectives and Contemporary Issues for Women in Ministry, Fanning the Flame: Children, Youth and the Faith that Fuels Their Lives, and Educating for Justice and Peace

Methodist Theological School in Ohio
Instructor of Practical Theology and Youth Ministry (2005-06), Adjunct Professor 2007
Courses:  Intergenerational Ministries, Theology and Practices of Ministry, Christian Education in the Urban Church and Adolescent World

Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary
Teaching Assistant (2002-2004)
Courses:  Loss and Grief, Practice of Ministry, Premarital, Marital and Family Counseling in Pastoral Care (Lecturer), and Christian Education in the African American Experience (Lecturer)

Candler School of Theology, Emory University
Youth Theological Initiative
Summer Instructor (2002)
Course:  The Whole People of God:  Caring for Mind, Body and Spirit as Practical

Brice United Methodist Church, Brice, OH
Pastor of Adult Discipleship, 2004-2008
Assisted the Senior Pastor in providing pastoral leadership for our congregation to include, but not limited to, preaching, education, outreach, pastoral care and hospitality.

Sherman United Methodist Church, Evanston, IL
Associate Pastor, 2002-2004
Provided pastoral leadership for the congregation through preaching, teaching,
worship design, counseling and leadership training.

St. Timothy United Methodist Church, Stone Mountain, GA
Director of Christian Education, 2000-2001
Provided pastoral leadership for the church’s educational ministry through
the development and implementation of holistic programs that sought to
meet the spiritual, intellectual and physical needs of this multicultural
congregation and community.

Ousley United Methodist Church, Lithonia, GA
Student Minister, 1999-2000
Assisted the pastor with the congregational transition through worship leadership, counseling, preaching and teaching.

General Board of Global Ministries, United Methodist Church, Atlanta, GA
Training Coordinator and Facilitator, 1999
Staff Coordinator, spiritual director and facilitator for preparing US 2’s,
Mission Interns, Summer Interns and World Missionaries for leadership and
service in domestic and international mission fields.  Developed and implemented
leadership training sessions, organized spiritual retreats, and counseled missionaries.

Aetna US Healthcare, Blue Bell, PA
Senior Account Executive, 1997-1998
Maintained existing and recruited new corporate health insurance accounts for
the retiree health benefits division.  Collaborated with active employee account executives to develop marketing strategies for our clients.  Delivered formal presentations to corporate executives and retired employees.  Corporate clients ranged from 20-4,000 retirees.

Marketing Representative, 1994-1996
Corporate liaison to government and community initiatives for the promotion of
the statewide Children’s Health Insurance Program.  Developed and executed promotional strategies and delivered formal presentations to community and organizational leaders.

Remember to ACT – Commencement Speaker and recipient of Honorary Doctorate Degree, Fontbonne University, St. Louis, MO, May 16, 2015.

Ferguson and Faith: Academic reflections – Guest Lecturer,Candler School of Theology, Emory University, Atlanta, GA, February 18, 2015

Not Looking Away: Ferguson and the Faith Community – Presenter, Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice, Harvard Law School, Cambridge, MA, January 17, 2015

Narrative and the Quest for Justice in Ferguson and beyond – Paper Presentation, American Academy of Religion,
San Diego, CA, November 24, 2015

Young Black Men and the Hope for Survival in the Age of Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin and Jarvis Jones 
Guest Lecturer, Doane College, Lincoln, NE, October 20, 2014

The Power of Story: (En)Countering Narrative and Risk in the Age of Trayvon Martin– Spring Convocation Brugemann and Kulenkamp Lecturer, Eden Seminary, April 23, 2014

These A**holes, They Always Get Away: Young Black Men and the Hope for Survival in the Age of Trayvon Martin –
Association of Practical Theology at Vanderbilt University, Nashville TN, March 29, 2014

Foundations for Ethical Leadership – Guest Lecturer for the John B. Ervin Scholars Program at Washington University, St. Louis, MO, January 14, 2012

Roots, Shoots and Fruits: Issues in Faith Formation – Guest lecturer for the Southern Illinois Conference’s annual Christian Education Training, Columbia, IL, March 12, 2011.

Christian Education and the Contemporary Black Church – Three day guest lecturer for the Missouri Annual Conference Meeting of the AME Church, St. Louis, MO, October 27-29, 2010.

A Call to Oneness: Reflections on a Practical-Theological Approach to ‘Bridging’ the Academy and Faith Communities – Paper presentation, Association of Practical Theology Biennial Meeting, Boston, MA, April 10, 2010.

If it Wasn’t for the Women: St. Louis Women and the Civil Rights Movement – Keynote Address, St. Louis Art Museum’s MLK Commemorative Service, January 15, 2010

Beloved Disciples Building Beloved Community: Christian Education as Formation and Transformation – Guest lecturer, Beloved Community Conference, St. Louis, MO, November 6, 2009.

Ease on Down the Road: Transformation at the Intersection – Guest Lecturer for the Association of Clinical Pastoral Educators’ annual meeting, St. Louis, MO, July 9, 2009.

Telling the Story: Narrative and Faith Formation – Guest Lecturer, Wisconsin Conference of the United Church of Christ annual Christian Education training event, Fort Atkinson, WI, March 21, 2009

General Assembly (DOC) – Ferguson and Faith Workshop, Columbus, OH, July 19, 2015
Wild Goose Conference – Ferguson Panelist, Hot Springs, NC, July 11, 2015
General Synod (UCC) – Ferguson and Faith Workshop, Cleveland, OH, June 27, 2015
Missouri Annual Conference (UCC) – Ferguson Workshop, Columbia, MO, June 5, 2015
National Benevolent Association (DOC) – Keynote Address, St. Louis, MO, June 4, 2015
Bethel Lutheran Church, Clayton, MO – Adult Sunday School Class on Ferguson, April 26, 2015
Black Methodists for Church Renewal (UMC), Prayer breakfast speaker, St. Louis, MO, March 21, 2015
The Christian Church, Disciples of Christ, Regional Assembly – Guest lecturer, October 12, 2014
Christ Church Episcopal, St .Louis, MO – Lecture on the Toy Gun Buy Back Initiative, May 18, 2014
Christ Lutheran Church, Webster Groves, MO – Guest Sunday School lecturer on Children and Christian Education, October 21, 2012
Antioch Baptist Church, St. Louis, MO – Christian Education Workshop, July 9, 2011
First Congregational UCC, Webster Groves, MO- Adult Sunday School Class on Faith and Politics, April 10, 2011
First Presbyterian Church, Kirkwood, MO- Adult Sunday School Class on Youth and Spirituality, March 13, 2011
St. Paul UCC, Evansville, IN – Christian Education Workshop, October, 30, 2010
Webster Groves Presbyterian Church, Webster Groves, MO – Adult Sunday School Class on Youth Spirituality (3 weeks), September 2010
Central Baptist Church, St. Louis, MO – Panelist and Guest Speaker for Women’s Retreat, July 9-10, 2010
Shalom Church City of Peace, Florrisant, MO – Christian Education Workshop for Leadership Training Day, March 20, 2010

Second Presbyterian Church, St. Louis, MO – July 26, 2015
Mt. Zion Baptist Church, St. Louis, MO – February 8, 2015
Union Ave. Christian Church (DOC) – January 18, 2015
Second Presbyterian Church, St. Louis, MO – September 14, 2014
First Presbyterian Church, St. Louis, MO – January 19, 2014
Christ UCC, Belleville, IL- Community Thanksgiving Service, November 18, 2012
Eden Theological Seminary, Webster Groves, MO – Chapel – October 13, 2011
New Northside Baptist Church, St. Louis, MO – July 17, 2011
Antioch Baptist Church, St. Louis, MO – July 10, 2011
Washington Tabernacle Baptist Church, St. Louis, MO – May 8, 2011
Pilgrim UCC, St. Louis, MO – Joint MLK Service – January 16, 2011
Calvary Missionary Baptist Church, St. Louis, MO – November 21, 2010
Washington Tabernacle Baptist Church, St. Louis, MO – August 15, 2010
Sherman United Methodist Church, Evanston, IL – May 23, 2010
New Sunny Mount Baptist Church, St. Louis, MO – April 18, 2010
Cote Brilliante Presbyterian Church, St. Louis, MO – March 21, 2010
Unity United Methodist Church, Webster Groves, MO – December 27, 2009
Eden Theological Seminary, Webster Groves, MO – Chapel – September 28, 2009
Centennial Christian Church (DOC), St. Louis, MO – August 2, 2009
First United Methodist Church, Webster Groves, MO – Good Friday – April 10, 2009
St. John’s UCC, St. Louis, MO – February 8, 2009
Good Shepherd United Methodist Church, Willingboro, NJ – September 14, 2008

Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters, Fontbonne University, 2015
Summer Fellowship for Pre-Tenure Workshop for Theological School Faculty, Wabash Center, 2013
Engaged Scholars Fellow, Congregational Studies Fellowship, 2012-2013
Pre-Tenure Workshop for Theological School Faculty, Wabash Center, 2012-2013
The Fund for Theological Education, Doctoral Scholar, 2001-2004
Women of Color Scholar, United Methodist Church, 2001-2004
American Bible Society Christian Education Award, 2001
Georgia House of Representatives, Guest Chaplain, 2001
Middle East Travel Seminar, Participant, 2000
United Methodist Seminary Award, 2000
United Methodist Crusade Scholar Award, 1999
United Methodist Foundation Scholar Award, 1998

Board of Directors, Chair of Academic Disciplines for Religious Education Association, 2012-
Editorial Board, Journal of Childhood and Religion, 2010-
Workshop Assessor, Fund for Theological Education, 2010
Chair, Continuing Education Committee, Eden Seminary, 2009-
Admissions Committee, Eden Seminary, 2008

Association of Professors and Researchers in Religious Education
The American Academy of Religion
The Association of Practical Theology