Michele Watkins

Michele Watkins

Gerald L. Schlessman Professorship in Methodist Studies and Assistant Professor of Theology

Contact Information

Email: mwatkins@iliff.edu


Ph.D., Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary
MDIV, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary
B.S., Psychology, Howard University, Washington, D.C.
Certification in Non-Profit Management, Kellogg School of Business at Northwestern University


Michele Watkins joined the Iliff faculty in January 2016 as the Gerald L. Schlessman Professorship in Methodist Studies and assistant professor of theology. She is a Womanist scholar-pastor-activist bred in the United Methodist Church and the Black freedom movement tradition. Watkins has a PhD in theology, ethics, and history at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, where she is an adjunct faculty member.

“Toward a Socialized Soteriology: Democratic Womanism as a Communal Reconstral of the Doctrine of Theosis” is the title of Watkins’s dissertation, in which she places Womanist theologians in conversation with the Church Fathers to construct a holistic understanding of Christian salvation that is both spiritually and materially redemptive, particularly in a culture of violence.

Her teaching interests include the broad area of Christian theology as a discipline with specific attention to how Womanist thought, patristic theology, and Wesleyan theology work together to provide more relational models of contending against socio-economic oppression and systemic evil.

Informing her scholarship and teaching has been both her experience in both the parish and community. Watkins served as the assistant pastor of St. Mark United Methodist Church of Chicago for five years where her ministry focused on spiritual formation and community outreach. Before pastoral ministry, Watkins worked for over eight years under her mentor, Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr. first in the organizing of young people throughout the city of Chicago for social justice concerns and for two years as the national college director for PUSH Excel, an educational initiative of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition.

Watkins is a Provisional Elder in the Northern IL Conference of The United Methodist Church and currently appointed to the extension ministry Strengthening the Black Church for the 21st Century (SBC-21) as a member of the Academy of Interns. She holds a Master of Divinity degree (Theta Alpha Kappa) from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary; Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Howard University in Washington, DC (Phi Beta Kappa, Summa Cum Laude); and a Certification in Non-Profit Management from Kellogg School of Business at Northwestern University.