Dean of Faculty and Chief Academic Officer, Aurelia Henry Reinhardt Professor of Theological Ethics, Director of Studies in Public Ministry, Ex-officio Trustee, Board of Trustees , GTU Core Doctoral Faculty
Rev. Dr. Gabriella Lettini is Dean of Faculty and Aurelia Henry Reinhardt Professor of Theological Ethics and Director of Studies in Public Ministry at the Starr King School for the Ministry, Graduate Theological Union (GTU), Berkeley, CA. Arriving at Starr King in August of 2005, she was charged with directing the new Master of Arts in Social Change (MASC). She currently serves on the GTU Core Doctoral Faculty.
A native of Torino, Italy, Lettini earned her M.Div. at the Waldensian Theological Seminary in Rome, Italy. She is an ordained minister of the Waldensian Church, a movement that originated in France and Italy in the 12th century and was based on evangelical poverty, a critique of church hierarchies, refusal of the church as a political power and a strong emphasis on lay leadership, including women. Persecuted as “heretical,” the Waldensians joined the Reformation in 1532. Dr. Lettini has served Waldensian and Methodist churches in Italy. She served as an officer of the American Waldensian Society from 1996 to 2006 and was its President from 2006 to 2009.
Dr. Lettini earned her Ph.D. from Union Theological Seminary in New York City under the supervision of Dr. Delores G. Williams and Dr. James H. Cone, foundational scholars in Womanist and Black Liberation Theologies. She also served as an ecumenical associate at the Jan Hus Presbyterian Church in New York. Her dissertation, “The ‘Allergy’ to the Other,” focused on contemporary theological perspectives on “otherness” and hegemonic patterns of identity construction.
Before accepting her position at Starr King, Dr. Lettini taught at Union Theological Seminary as Visiting Assistant Professor of Theology and Culture. She collaborated with the Poverty Initiative at Union Theological Seminary and served in several Poverty Truth Commissions in New York. She has organized similar programs at the Graduate Theological Union.
Dr. Lettini engaged the same grassroots model for truth commissions in addressing issues of war. Teaming up with Rev. Dr. Rita Nakashima Brock, she co-organized the Truth Commission on Conscience in War, which held a public hearing at the Riverside Church in New York in March 2010. This work led Drs. Brock and Lettini to co-author Soul Repair: Recovering from Moral Injury After War, published by Beacon Press in 2012.
Dr. Lettini is the author of “Omosessualità,” published in 1999: this small book aimed at the general public was the first text by an Italian religious leader to publicly challenge homophobia. Lettini has published book chapters and articles on syncretism, theology and culture(s), U.S. and global liberation theologies, feminist and womanist theologies and liturgies, women and religion, movies and religion, religion and politics, ethics, religious traditions and the “other.” In addition, she was the curator of the translation into Italian of the Dictionary of Feminist Theologies. Her most recent publication is “Current Understandings of Moral Injury’s Identification, Causes, Symptoms, and Responses,” in Moral Injury: A Guidebook for Understanding and Engagement edited by Brad Kelle, Landman, MD, Lexington Books, 2020.
From 2009 to 2015, Lettini served as co-chair of the Transformative Pedagogy and Scholarship Group of the American Academy of Religion (AAR). She currently serves on the Steering Committee of the Moral Injury Group of the AAR.
Lettini is a member of INTERFILM (International Interchurch Film Organization, by invitation). She has served on the Ecumenical Jury of the Montreal, Locarno, Berlin and Cannes international film festivals.
At Starr King Dr. Lettini teaches regularly the ECO Core Intensive and supervises all MASC final projects.