Rev. Dr. Emma Jordan-Simpson, FOR-USA Executive Director, appointed President of Auburn Seminary

It is with bittersweet emotions that the Fellowship of Reconciliation – USA (FOR-USA) announces that Rev. Dr. Emma Jordan-Simpson has stepped down as executive director in order to become the president of Auburn Seminary in New York City.

A gifted pastor, preacher, and administrator, Rev. Emma’s immense skills and commitment to emergent strategies have advanced FOR-USA’s mission in numerous ways. During her tenure, FOR-USA built capacity to support our grassroots chapters and affiliates; launched the Wink Fellowship for emerging leaders; made a critically-important investment through a new board-controlled fund; and deepened our partnership with International FOR branches worldwide. Many of these transformational commitments and accomplishments were achieved during an unprecedented period of global pandemic and social brokenness.

Rev. Emma’s ability to embrace love and rigor, and to recommit us to fellowship and reconciliation, has reignited the moral fire of our organization. Rev. Emma took the helm at FOR-USA three years ago during a time of extraordinary transition. The organization had just sold the Shadowcliff estate that had been its home for more than a half-century. At the same time, FOR-USA’s National Council was struggling to take a hard look at itself and the organization to examine and challenge historic patterns and practices of internalized white supremacy. Some wondered whether FOR should continue to exist and whether Rev. Emma’s role would be to bring FOR’s organizational history to a close with a sense of integrity. Under Rev. Emma’s leadership, the path forward to achieve the Beloved Community has become lucid. The organization has recommitted itself to the faithful witness, rigorous ethical reflection, and truly joyful accompaniment that we now recognize to be at the heart of fellowship and reconciliation.

While we are saddened by this immense loss to FOR, we are overjoyed that Rev. Emma will now bring her unique talents and innovative practices to Auburn Seminary in this prestigious and impactful role. We can think of no better future than one in which thousands of religious and community leaders nationwide are infused with the wisdom and gentle prophetic fire that Rev. Emma carries within her. We also know that this is not the end of a relationship, only its evolution and transition. We are honored to know that we will continue to be in community with Rev. Emma for years to come.

We are excited to announce that two core members of FOR-USA’s leadership team have graciously accepted the call to help steward FOR during this transition period. Ethan Vesely-Flad, director of national organizing, and Dr. Anthony Nicotera, strategic visioning and fundraising lead counsel, will serve as interim co-executive directors as our National Council coordinates a search for our next long-term leader. As an organization, we are committed to seeing this as a moment of grace, a sacred seed ball planted — to draw on one of Rev. Emma’s inspirational phrases — that new possibilities might blossom. Indebted to her example, we commit to prioritize real human relationship as the core of our work, and we pledge to name and uproot structural racism, settler colonialism, and institutional white supremacy, both inside our Fellowship and in the world beyond. We are confident that, with our community’s support, the leadership of our National Council will continue to build upon Rev. Emma’s prophetic vision and foundation.

In a farewell message to FOR, Rev. Emma declared:

“Leading the Fellowship of Reconciliation at such a critical point in its history and in global history has been such a clarifying experience for me. Creation and the peoples that inhabit this planet are hurting in such profound yet preventable ways. To approach the exit portal of this pandemic with some real determination requires people of faith and conscience in the United States to abandon the delusion of separateness. What is broken in America matters across the globe. Realizing that our U.S. brokenness leads to pain across the world must change the way we engage in the world.  The world is getting a stronger Fellowship of Reconciliation because we have taken the deep breath that allows for that reset. I am so proud that FOR is doing its work to claim its place in the economy of peace and justice leadership. I’m proud that it is focusing on its very roots — trusting truth and justice to light the way toward healing, peace, and human security. I’m grateful to all of the National Council for its leadership, to Ethan Vesely-Flad and Anthony Nicotera, and all of FOR’s staff and team members for the good work we did. I’m excited about the horizon and am anticipating the work we have yet to do together as I transition to this new responsibility with Auburn Seminary.”

Thank you, Rev. Emma, for the love, leadership, and liberation you have shared with and inspired within us; for leading us with grace and healing through this extraordinary period of global pandemic and communal trauma; and for your generous commitment to continuing fellowship as you move on to Auburn.  On behalf of FOR and all our sister movements for justice and peace, we celebrate this exciting next step of your prophetic journey!

FOR-USA National Council and Staff