Rev. Dr. Gabriella Lettini

Dean of Faculty, Aurelia Henry Reinhardt Director of Studies in Public Ministry, Professor of Theological Ethics, Ex-officio Trustee, Board of Trustees

Dean of Faculty, Full-time Core Faculty, Trustee

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, Berkeley, CA. When she arrived at Starr King in August of 2005 she was charged with directing the new Master of Arts in Social Change (MASC).

Dr. Lettini also collaborated with a group of women faculty to create a new Certificate in Women’s Studies in Religion at the GTU. 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. From 1987-1992, she was the Latin Europe Representative for the European Board of the World Christian Student Federation. She has served as an officer of the American Waldensian Society since 1996 and was its President from 2006 to 2009. She co-chairs the Transformative Pedagogy and Scholarship Consultation of the American Academy of Religion.

Dr. Lettini earned her Ph.D. from Union Theological Seminary in New York City under the supervision of Dr. Delores Williams and Dr. James Cone. 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 a 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, working to educate community and religious leaders about the many dimensions of poverty and economic injustice in the Bay Area of California and stressing the importance of learning from and collaborating with Poverty Scholars.

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 ( and released its official report on Veterans Day 2010. Dr. Brock and Lettini continue the work of this Truth Commission by following up on the report recommendations to study and educate the community on the issue of “moral injury.” They are co-authoring a book on the subject: Soul Repair: Recovering from Moral Injury After War, published by Beacon Press. The release date is Veteran Day 2012.

Dr. Lettini is the author of “Omosessualita” (“Homosexuality”), published in 1999: this small book aimed at the general public was the first text by an Italian religious leader to publicly challenge homophobia and bless same sex unions.  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.

Dr. Lettini is a member of the Board of Trustees of Faith Voices for the Common Good and of the steering committee of FSR (Feminist Studies in Religion).  She is also a member of INTERFILM (International Interchurch Film Organization) and the Union Theological Seminary Alumn* Council.

Selected Interests:

  • Feminist, WomanistMujerista Theologies and Ethics
  • Liberation Theologies
  • Queer Theologies
  • Poverty Scholarship
  • Grassroots Truth Commissions
  • Racial and Economic Justice
  • Community Organizing
  • Moral Injury as a Hidden Wound of War
  • Arts and Religion, Ethical Imagination
  • Film, Religion and Ethics

Courses Taught (please see the course list in sidebar to the right for current courses):

  • The “Allergy to the Other”
  • Ethics in Film
  • Sources for a Liberation Ethical Imagination
  • Western Social Thought Seminar: Contemporary Critical Readings
  • Community Internship Integrative Seminar
  • Introduction to Woomen’s Studies in Religion
  • Rome: Crossroads of Religion (Two-week Immersion Course in Rome, Italy)
  • Truth Commissions and Social Change
  • Introduction to Theology and Ethics in Christian History