Claudia May

Job Titles

  • Professor of Reconciliation Studies, Program Director
    Reconciliation Studies , College of Arts and Sciences


Dr. Claudia May is a sought after specialist in Reconciliation Studies and has more than two decades of experience working alongside, teaching, and learning from global and national practitioners and leaders in the practices, principles, and theology of reconciliation. Through her writing and teaching, Dr. May examines how Jesus and those he encountered live out reconciliation. She pays particular attention to the agency of those dismissed as irrelevant. She probes how Jesus co-builds relationships with the despised, the disinherited, and the wounded while confronting injustice, challenging abusive systems, and engaging with conflicting histories, beliefs, and cultures. Dr. May's work stresses that reconciliation acknowledges that the relational disparities and conflicts Jesus confronts can present us with practical approaches to dismantling the inequities and divisions that undermine our relationship with God and others. Through her analysis of psychological studies Dr. May also mines how the lives of Jesus and biblical characters interface with stories of trauma and our complex humanity. God, the Creator of love, inspires her work. Love drives reconciliation and stands at the heart of Jesus’ ministry. This extraordinary love transforms lives, liberates peoples, and sustains the healing pulse of reconciliation.

Started at Bethel



  • University of York, UK - B.A. in History, Politics, 1988
  • University of California - M.A. in Ethnic Studies, 1992
  • Pacific School of Religion/Graduate Theological Union - M.A.T.S. in Theological Studies, 2016
  • University of California - Ph.D. in Ethnic Studies, 1996

Courses Taught

Introduction to Reconciliation Studies

Principles and Methods of Intercultural Leadership

Fannie Lou Hamer, Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and Our Multicultural World

The Power of Story and Reconciliation

Hip-Hop, Spoken Word, & Reconciliation

Senior Seminar in Reconciliation Studies


Chapters in books:

2014 May, C. "'Roots and Rootedness': Unearthing (En)gendered Identities in Donna Weir-Soley's First Rain." in Diasporic Women's Writing of the Black Atlantic: (En)Gendering Literature and Performance. ed. By Almarza, D. L., and Lopez, E. A. London: Routledge

2011 May, C. "Railroad Blues: Crossing the Tracks of Gender, Class and Race Inequities In the Blues and Ann Petry's The Street." in Trains, Literature, and Culture: Reading and Writing the Rails. ed. by Spalding, S. and Fraser, B. Lanham: Lexington Books, 2-38

Entries in encylopedias/anthologies:

2013 May, C. "Ellison, Ralph." in Encyclopedia of the Bible and Its Reception. vol 7.ed. by Klauck, H.J., McGinn, B., Leong Seow, C., Spieckermann, H., Dov Walfish, B., and Ziolkowski, E. (eds.) Berlin: Walter de Gruyter

1997 Foster, F. S. and May, C. "Class Formation in African American Literature." in The Oxford Companion to African American Literature. ed. by Andrews, W. L., Foster, F. S., and Harris, T. New York: Oxford University Press, xliii and 2227-2228

Peer-reviewed journal, literary publications:

2021 May, C. “Friend or Foe: Can Flattery Be Befriended?” Radix: Where Christian Faith Meets Contemporary Culture 42 (2)

2019 May, C. “Slice.” Families, Systems, & Health, 37, [3], 270-272

2018 May, C. “A Mother’s Song: Remembering Psalm-Like Trauma Stories of Gun Violence.” The Institute For Youth Ministry. Princeton Theological Seminary, December 15, 2018.

2017 May, C. "Yesterday, Today, and Forever?" Radix: Where Christian Faith Meets Contemporary Culture 39 (4)

2015 May, C. "Airing dirty laundry: Representations of Domestic Laborers in the Literature of African American Women Authors." Feminist Formations 27, (1)

2015 May, C. "In the Garden." Radix: Where Christian Faith Meets Contemporary Culture 38 (2)

2014 May, C. "Walking on Water." Radix: Where Christian Faith Meets Contemporary Culture 38 (1), 28-30

2013 May, C. "Prisms and Refractions: Portrayals of Domestic Laborers in Ann Petry's The Street and Alice Childress' Like One of the Family: Conversations from a Domestic's Life." Reconstruction: Studies in Contemporary Culture, 13 (2)

2012 May, C. '"Nothing Powerful like Words Spoken': Black British 'Femcees' and the Sampling of Hip Hop as a Theoretical Trope." Cultural Studies 27 (4), 611-649

2010 May, C. "'What's Love Got To Do With It?': (Un) Bending Identities in Gurinder Chadha's Bend it Like Beckham.'' Culture and Religion 11 (3), 247-276

2009 May, C. "The Genesis of Eden: Scriptural (Re) Translations and the (Un) Making of an Academic Eden in Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man." Literature and Theology 23 (4), 421-441

2008 May, C. "Book review of Theology Goes To The Movies: An Introduction to Christian Critical Thinking by Clive Marsh." Journal of Implicit Religion 11 (2), 208-211

2008 May, C. "The Spirit of Gospel and the Feeling of the Blues: The Spiritual Dimensions and Purposes of the Blues Part Two." Ars Magna. ISSN: 1237-2714

2007 May, C. "The Spirit of Gospel and the Feeling of the Blues: The Spiritual Dimensions and Purposes of the Blues Part One." Ars Magna. ISSN: 1237-2714

2006 May, C. "Editorial: Report of the Denton Conference 2006 Implicit Religion."Implicit Religion: Journal for the Study of Implicit Religion and Contemporary Spirituality 9 (2), 133-135

Book Reviews:

2016 May, C. "Review of Elisabeth T. Vasko's Beyond Apathy: A Theology for Bystanders." International Journal of Practical Theology 20, (2)

2010 May, C. "Review of Donna Aza Weir Soley's Eroticism, Spirituality and Resistance in Black Women's Writings." MaComere: Journal of the Association of Caribbean Women Writers & Scholars 12 (1), 81-85

2006 May, C. "Hallowed Be Thy Game by Mark Dowd (sfx production for Channel 4,2005)". Implicit Religion: Journal for the Study of Implicit Religion and Contemporary Spirituality 9 (2), 257-259

2006 May, C. "Review of Captain America and the Crusade against Evil: The Dilemma of Zealous Nationalism by Robert Jewett and John Shelton Lawrence." Implicit Religion: Journal for the Study of Implicit Religion and Contemporary Spirituality 9 (1), 105-110

2005 May, C. 'Review of Response and Responsibility: The World as a Challenge for the Church by Roger Grainger.' Implicit Religion: Journal for the Study of Implicit Religion and Contemporary Spirituality 8, (3), 323-327

Online Publications:

2017 May, C. "Purple" The Mennonite, August 17, 2017.

2015 May, C. "The Fruit of Soulful Love: Marvin Gaye, God and Us." Patheos May 20, 2015

2015 May, C. "Steady, Loving, Confrontation': Dignity in the Face of Adversity." Patheos May 4, 2015

2015 May, C. "What's Going On: Resistance, Uprisings, and the Gospel According to Jesus and Marvin Gaye." May 1, 2015.

2015 May, C. "I, Too, Sing America": On Walter Scott and Racial Wounds in America." Patheos April 15, 2015

2015 May, C. "Lecrae: A Modern-Day Psalmist Voices the Messiness of Humanity Through Hip-Hop." Patheos: Hosting the Conversation on Faith (February 2015)

2015 May, C. "Welcome to America?" Praying Through Anger, Loving Through Racial Storms." Patheos: Hosting the Conversation on Faith (December 2014).

Artistic publications:

2018 May, C. When I Fly With Papa (Minneapolis: Wise Ink Creative Publishing)

2016 May, C. et al. Psalm Book: Prayers and Poems for Kids, Edited by Naomi J. Krueger and Peter Grosshauser. Minneapolis: SparkHouse Family. Winner of Silver Medalian Award in the Children's Category. Evangelical Christian Publishers Association, 2017

2005 May C. Jesus is Enough: Love, Hope and Comfort in the Storms of Life. Minneapolis: AugsburgFortress

1995 May, C. Poetry for the People: A Blueprint. New York: Routledge

1990 May, C. Berkeley Poetry Review. Berkeley: University of California, Berkeley


“Can a Reconciled Relationship Exist Without Conflict?” Mercer University’s 15th Annual Building the Beloved Community Symposium, Mercer University, Macon Campus, Atlanta, GA. Keynote Address, 27 February, 2019

“From Whom Can We Learn?” Mercer University’s 15th Annual Building the Beloved Community Symposium, Mercer University, Macon Campus, Atlanta, GA. Keynote Address, 26 February, 2019

“From Whom Can We Learn?” Andrew Young Center for Global Leadership Colloquium Series, Morehouse College, Morehouse College, Atlanta, GA. Lecture, 25 February, 2019

When I Fly with Papa, Twin Cities Book Festival, Book Signing, October 2018

Kwanza Presentation: Sojourner Truth Church, Richmond, CA, December 29, 2018

Coherence: How do we live fully devoted to Christ, regardless of the space we find ourselves in (Christian, "secular,” or otherwise)? First Presbyterian Church, FoCUS group. Lilly Endowment Campus Ministry Theological Exploration of Vocation (CMTEV), September 29 – October 1, 2017

The Theology of Reconciliation, Summer Institute for Reconciliation, Duke Divinity School, June 2017

Professional Organizations, Committees, and Boards

"Racial Trauma, The Power of Story, and Reconciliation." Oxford University Interdisciplinary Seminars in Science and Religion: Bridging the Two Cultures of Science and the Humanities II, 2017-2019

Areas of expertise

Reconciliation Studies, Discipleship and Leadership Formation, Contemplative Practices and Spiritual Direction, African American and Caribbean Literature and Theatre, US Ethnic Literature, Popular Culture and Theology, Practical Theology, Reconciliation, Injustice and Inequity, the Power of Story and Reconciliation, Racial Reconciliation, Environment Stewardship, Nature Poetry, Storytelling and the Healing of Racial Trauma