Reverend Dr. Theodore J. Weeden, Sr
The Rev. Dr. Theodore J. Weeden, Sr. is a biblical scholar and theologian, as well as a United Methodist pastor (retired). Born in Long Branch, New Jersey, Dr. Weeden grew up in Atlanta, GA, and at age 15 experienced a call to the ministry. After receiving his Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Divinity degrees from Emory University in Atlanta, he was ordained into the ministry of the Methodist Church in 1956, and served several churches in rural North Georgia. In 1964 Rev. Weeden received his Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Religion from Claremont Graduate University, Claremont, CA. While pursuing his doctorate, he served Methodist churches in Ontario and Los Angeles, CA, including Anglo-Hispanic and Native American congregations.
In 1966, disillusioned at the failure of the Methodist Church to support the Civil Rights Movement, he left the pastorate to teach religion at Shaw University, an African American University founded in 1867 in Raleigh, NC. In 1968, Rev. Weeden left Shaw to join the faculty of Wake Forest University, Winston Salem, NC, and a year later was appointed to the New Testament faculty at Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, PA—which subsequently chose to unite with Colgate Rochester Divinity School (CRDS) in 1970. After teaching New Testament at CRDS for four years, Rev. Weeden returned to the Methodist pastorate to serve Rochester’s Wesley United Methodist and at the same time taught the New Testament at Rochester’s St. Bernard’s Seminary from 1977-81. In the 1980’s he was appointed as an adjunct professor in religion at the University of Rochester. From 1977-1995 Rev. Weeden served as Senior Pastor of Rochester’s 2,000 member Asbury First United Methodist Church.
Dr. Weeden is a Fellow of the Jesus Seminar, a group of scholars devoted to the study of the historical Jesus and Christian origins, and he has written extensively on biblical and theological subjects. Often quoted by biblical scholars, he is recognized internationally for his ground-breaking interpretation of the Gospel of Mark in his book, Mark-Traditions in Conflict. In that book he advances the argument that the Gospel of Mark is not intended as a biography of Jesus but rather a polemic generated by a feud within the Jesus movement. In the Gospel, Dr. Weeden argues, the author purposely attacks and discredits Jesus’ twelve disciples, who serve as Mark’s representatives of a false interpretation of Jesus as the Messiah. Dr. Weeden has also co-authored the book, Preaching on the Death of Jesus, and published articles on the Christian oral tradition, the Protestant perspective on Jesus’ mother Mary, Jesus’ trials, crucifixion, and resurrection. Currently, he is working on another book on the Gospel of Mark, and articles on Christian origins in Southern Syria and the non-canonical Gospel of Mary.
Rev. Weeden has been a life-long advocate for social justice and interfaith ecumenism. In 1967, while teaching at Shaw University, he and a Shaw student organized the Raleigh Black Community against Urban Renewal (i.e., Black removal). He also organized a group of white people in Raleigh into HOME (Housing Opportunities Made Equal), an organization which successfully identified a home owner in an all-white neighborhood to sell to a Black family, thereby ending segregated housing in Raleigh. During his time at Colgate Rochester Colgate Divinity School (1970-74), he led the faculty and administration in ending latent gender discrimination in faculty hiring. The appointment of women to the faculty followed thereafter. Furthermore, while Senior Pastor of Asbury First United Methodist Church, Rev. Weeden enabled the appointment of the church’s first woman pastor, as well as its first African-American pastor.
With respect to interfaith ecumenism, Rev. Weeden, in addition to teaching at the Roman Catholic St. Bernard’s Seminary, was invited to lecture to and worship with the Roman Catholic monks at the Abbey of the Genesee, Piffard, NY. During his pastorate at Asbury First, he and Rabbi Judah Miller jointly taught a course at Temple B’rith Kodesh. When Rev. Weeden visits his sister, Judith Ziffer, who converted to Judaism and devoutly practices her faith, he attends synagogue with her. While living in Appleton, WI (1996-2004), Rev. Weeden was invited by local Imam, Salman Aziz, to participate in an interfaith panel on the Imam’s TV program, “Towards Understanding Islam.” Soon becoming good friends, Dr. Weeden was invited by Imam Aziz to speak at a Muslim celebration in 2004 and found himself in the midst of a loving, caring, and receptive community.