The Rev. Dr. Carter Heyward is an Episcopal priest, professor, theologian, activist, and writer. A pioneer in the areas of feminist liberation theology and the theology of sexuality. Carter was born on August 22, 1945, in Charlotte, North Carolina, to Robert Clarence Heyward, Jr. and Mary Ann Carter Heyward, the eldest of three children.
Two years later, the family moved to Hendersonville where Carter spent her early years in the mountains of North Carolina. It was during these early, formative years that the energy in these ancient hills touched her soul and, decades later, drew her back to live there again.
The family moved back to Charlotte in 1955 where Carter spent her teen years. She was elected Chair of Episcopal Young Churchmen (sic) in the Diocese of North Carolina when she was 16 and, along with other teenagers, helped push the Diocese toward the racial integration of its summer camp.
Heyward received an undergraduate degree from Randolph-Macon Women’s College in Lynchburg, Virginia in 1967. She attended Union Theological Seminary in New York for one year, but moved back to Charlotte in 1968 to work in her home parish, St. Martin’s Church, for the next year and a half as a lay assistant. An activist for racial justice from her teen years--in church, high school and college--she became a young feminist in seminary, working on behalf of
the Equal Rights Amendment and, of course, women's ordination in the Episcopal Church. She became active for gay and lesbian justice (before either "Bi" or "Trans" were much on the radar) as the 1970's progressed. The key for her, as both theologian and lesbian, was in realizing the fundamental theological, political, historical, and psychological connections between gender and sexual oppressions and justice movements.
In 1971, Heyward returned to New York and earned a Master of Arts in the Comparative Study of Religion from Columbia University, a Master of Divinity at Union Theological Seminary (1973) and a Ph.D. in Systematic Theology from Union (1980).
At a time in which neither the Episcopal Church--nor any other part of the world-wide Anglican Communion--would ordain women as priests, Heyward was ordained on July 29, 1974, along with ten other women: Merrill Bittner, Alla Bozarth-Campbell, Alison Cheek, Emily Hewitt, Suzanne Hiatt, Marie Moorefield Fleisher, Jeannette Piccard, Betty Bone Schiess, Katrina Martha Swanson, and Nancy Hatch Wittig. Bishops Daniel Corrigan, Robert L. DeWitt, and Edward R. Welles presided at this "extraordinary" ordination service at the Church of the Advocate in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Shortly thereafter, the House of Bishops held an emergency meeting to invalidate these ordinations and sanction the bishops participating. At the General Convention of 1976, the Episcopal Church officially approved the ordination of women into the priesthood.
In January 1975, Heyward and fellow priest Suzanne Hiatt were hired at Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. As a professor, Heyward’s primary teaching concentrated on 19th century Anglican theology, feminist liberation theology and theology of sexuality. She transformed consciousness, proclaimed the possibilities for women to be priests, for lesbians to be theological, and made way for new approaches to connecting the divine to the erotic, justice, activism. Heyward has authored or edited 17 books. The Seven Deadly Sins is her 18th.
MS Magazine Dec 1974; Photo by Lillian Bassman
Her primary work these days is with her local chapter of the NAACP (She is the 1st VP and Religious Affairs Chair). She was also fiddler in the Bold Gray Mares for 10 years.
Founder and Board of Directors, Free Rein Center for Therapeutic Riding and Education, Inc, Brevard, NC.
Vice-President and Chair, Religious Affairs Committee, Transylvania County, NC, NAACP.
Member: AAUW (American Association of University Women); National Wildlife Federation; Union of Concerned Scientists; Planned Parenthood, President’s Circle; NARAL (National Abortion Rights Action League); ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union); PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals); Jewish Voices for Peace; Local, state, and national Democratic Party organizations.
Vice-President, Transylvania County NC Democratic Women’s Club.
Certified Instructor, PATH (Professional Association for Therapeutic Horsemanship).
Howard Chandler Robbins Professor of Theology, Episcopal Divinity School, Cambridge MA.
Ph.D. (Systematic Theology), Union Theological Seminary, NY, NY, 1980.
M.Div. (Religion and Psychiatry), Union Theological Seminary, 1973.
M.A. (Comparative Study of Religion), Columbia University/Union Theological Seminary, 1971.
A.B. (Religion), Randolph-Macon Women’s College, Lynchburg, VA, 1967.
FELLOWSHIPS & AWARDS
Danforth Fellowship, 1977-79.
First Annual Peace and Justice Award, Cambridge (MA) Peace Commission, 1995.
Distinguished Alumni/ae Award, Union Theological Seminary, NY, NY, 1998.
Distinguished Alumna Award, Randolph-Macon Woman’s College, Lynchburg, VA, 2001.
Women Who Make a Difference Award, Brevard (NC) Branch of AAUW, 2018.
Ordained Episcopal priest in “Philadelphia Ordination” of first women priests, July 29, 1974.
Canonically resident, Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, 1975- present.
Episcopal priest in good standing, 1977-present.
Member of Unitarian Universalist Church of Transylvania County, NC, 2019-present.
(prior to Episcopal Divinity School)
Lecturer, Practical theology/Women in Ministry, Union Theological Seminary, 1974-75; Tutor, 1973-74.
Assistant Minister, St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, Manhattanville, NY, NY, 1972-74.
Seminarian, St. Clement’s Episcopal Church, NY, NY, 1970-73.
Library Assistant, Burke Library of Union Theological Seminary, 1970-73.
Student Chaplain, Bellevue Hospital, NY, NY, 1971-72.
Therapist-in-training, The Emergency Shelter, NY, NY, 1971-72.
Student Chaplain, Sleighton Farm School for Girls, Delaware County, PA, summer 1972.
Educational Resources Consultant, Model Cities Education Component, Charlotte, NC 1970.
Parish Assistant, St. Martin’s Episcopal Church, Charlotte, NC, 1968-70.
Selected lectures, presentations,
& workshops on diverse topics (1994-2014)
The Nelle Morton-Anne McGrew Bennett Lecture, School of Theology at Claremont CA The Gates Lectures on Religion, Grinnell College, Grinnell, IA. 1994.
Lecturer, Conference on Clergy/Therapist Sexual Exploitation for Professionals, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, 1994.
Workshop leader, Boldern European Women’s Summer Academy, Zurich, Switzerland (with Dr. Beverly Harrison). 1995.
Workshop leader, Evangelische Akademie Hofgeismar, Germany (with Drs. Beverly Harrison and Dorothee Soelle), 1995.
Lecturer, National Les/Bi/Gay Transgendered Seminarians Conference, Pacific School of Religion, Berkeley CA. 1996.
“Understanding the Religious Right” – Dialogue with Dr. Kurt Richardson of Gordon-Conwell Theological School, Cambridge, MA. 1996.
Workshop leader on liberation and earth theologies, Ghost Ranch, Abiquiu, NM (with Drs. Beverly Harrison and Larry Rasmussen), 1996.
Enippe Lecturer on Christian feminist theology in Leuenberg Evangelische Heimstatte der Nordwestschweiz, Holstein; Romerohaus, Lucerne; University at Basel, Switzerland; and Workshop at Bad Boll, Goppingen, Germany (with Dr. Dorothee Soelle) 1996.
Lectures and workshop leadership on Christian feminism in Australia and New Zealand: Anglican Seminary at Brisbane; Uniting Church in Melbourne; St. Clare Monastery at Stroud; Sophia Center at Adelaide; and University of Australia at Canberra (with Dr. Beverly Harrison). 1997.
Presenter, Conference on “Jesus and the Religious Right,” Holy Ground, Asheville, NC. 1997.
Panelist, Women’s Theologies and Public Policy Conference, Union Theological Seminary, NY, NY 1997.
Keynoter at “Re-Imagining Love” Conference for LGBT Concerns, United Church of Australia, Sydney 1998.
Keynoter at “Feminism and Faith” Conference, Hope College, Holland, MI. 1998.
Panelist in Interfaith Conference on “AIDS and Religion in America,” Atlanta, GA 1998.
Lecturer on “Christian Politics of Fear: Why Women and Homosexuals are Contemporary Targets,” Warren Wilson College, Swannanoa, NC. 1998.
Lecturer on “Saving Jesus from Those Who Are Right,” Cooperative Summer Session, Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, CA. 1999.
“Power of Anger in the Work of Love,” Dialogue with Beverly Harrison, Luise Schottroff, and Dorothee Soelle, Boldern Conference Center, Mannedorf, Switzerland. 1999.
“Jesus: A Feminist-Womanist Perspective,” Conversation with Dr. Delores S. Williams, Kanuga Conference Center, Hendersonville, NC. 1999.
A conversation on “whiteness” among community leaders, artists, and general public at opening of “Polar Bear in a Snow Storm” Exhibit at Boston Center for the Arts, Mills Gallery, Boston, MA. 2000.
“There is a River,” a conversation with Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas on being black and white women, taped and published in The Witness (March 2000).
Lecturer on “Theology of Connection: The ‘Ground of Being” is Our Power in Relation,” Theological Opportunities Program, Harvard Divinity School, Cambridge MA. 2000.
“Jesus, Power, and Sexuality,” Conversation with Dr. Delores Williams, Kirkridge Retreat Center, Bangor, PA. 2000.
Sermon, Sr Angela Memorial, “An Almost Unbearable Lightness of Being,” Watertown, MA. 2002.
Sermon, Sue Hiatt Memorial, “What Will We Do Without Sue?” St John’s Memorial Chapel, Episcopal Divinity School, Cambridge MA. 2002.
Speaker, Dorothee Soelle Memorial Service, Berlin. 2003.
Lecturer on “A Path Wide Open: Toward a Critical Relationship with the Christian Bible.” Boston University School of Theology, Boston. 2004.
Commencement Address, “Messages to the Empire,” Episcopal Divinity School, Cambridge MA. 2004.
Sermon, Bishop Robert DeWitt Memorial, “Keeping Our Courage,” St. John’s Chapel, Episcopal Divinity School, Cambridge MA. 2004.
Lectures at Martin Luther King Annual Breakfast, “Strong Faith,” and, the next year, at Martin Luther King Celebration, “The Dream Continues,” Brevard NC. 2006, 2007.
Retreat leader and lecturer on “Wonder Women: Bringing Sanity, Serenity, and Justice to a Mad, Mad World,” MCC Women in Ministry Retreat, Sarasota, FL. 2006.
Panelist at Consultation of North and South American Women on Reproductive Freedom, sponsored by Catholics for a Free Choice and Conscience magazine, Mexico City (celebrating publication in Spanish of Beverly W. Harrison’s Our Right to Choose). 2006.
Workshop leader, with Liz Galloway, “Horses as Spiritual Teachers,” Ring Lake Ranch, DuBois, WY. 2006.
Response to Mark Jordan at “Queering the Church” Conference, Center for Practical Theology, Boston University, Boston, 2007.
Keynote lecture on “Theological Breaking Points,” at Relational Theology Conference, Wincester Cathedral, UK, 2009.
Presenter, “Discerning the Signs of the Times” Conference, with Beverly Harrison, Kim Yong-Bock, David Anderson, Margaret Hoven, Ghost Ranch, Abiquiu, NM, 2009.
Panelist, “Sexuality and Spirituality Revisited,” Ethics Section, American Academy of Religion, with Marvin Ellison, Miguel De La Torre, Patrick Cheng, Kelly Brown Douglas, Ellen Armour, Dennis Wiley, Atlanta, GA, 2010.
Panelist, Episcopal Women’s History Project, Seneca Falls, NY, 2011.
Address, “Haunted by Relationality,” Initiating the Carter Heyward Scholars Series, Episcopal Divinity School, Cambridge, MA, 2011.
Lecture,“An American Christian feminist voice,” at Church of Sweden’s national Teologifestivalen, Uppsala, Sweden, 2012.
Preacher, 40th Anniversary Celebration, St. Stephen’s and Incarnation Episcopal Church, with Alison Cheek, Washington DC, 2014.
Lecture on “Rethinking Christianity in a Multi-faith World,” in program with Elora Shehabuddin (Islam), Amy Weiss (Judaism), Claire Willareal (Buddhism), Brigid’s Place, Houston, TX. 2014.
Selected sermons and homiletical
M. Morrow’s Ordination, All Saints Cathedral, Asheville, NC, 2014.
J. McCall Memorial, Brevard, NC, 2014.
Hollifield-Gardiner Wedding, Brevard, 2014.
C. Dulin Memorial, Charlotte, NC, 2014.
St. Martin’s Episcopal Church, Charlotte, NC. 2015.
Oakley-Petty Wedding, Pullen Memorial Church, with Rev William Barber, Raleigh, 2015.
Memorial Vigil for Victims of Mother Emmanuel Church massacre, NAACP, with Tommy Kilgore, Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Brevard, NC 2015.
Oliver-McRea Wedding, Charlotte, NC, 2015.
Memorial Vigil for Victims of Orlando “Pulse” shooting, NAACP, with Tommy Kilgore, Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Brevard, 2016.
“Loving Through the Hate,” Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, Hendersonville, NC, 2016.
Alumni/ae Service, Episcopal Divinity School, Cambridge, MA, 2017.
Gilbert Patrick Wedding, Grove Park Inn, Asheville, NC, 2017.
C. Ware Funeral, See Off Mountain, Brevard, 2017.
R. Thompson Memorial, Unitarian Universalist of Transylvania County, Brevard, 2017.
B.A. Fisher Ordination, Episcopal Cathedral, Easton, MD, 2017.
O’Dell-Lehane Wedding, Land of Sky United Church of Christ, 2017.
P. Hall Memorial, Unitarian Universalist of TC, Brevard, 2018.
A. Cheek Memorial, St. Philip’s Episcopal Church, Brevard, 2019.
Drinkwater-Raggio Wedding, Weaverville, NC 2019.
Davis-Valone Wedding, Bozeman, MT 2019.
First Congregational Church, Hendersonville, NC, 2020.
“Better Angels?” Unitarian Universalist of TC, Brevard, 2020.
L. Blackwell Memorial, Stables at Las Praderas, Brevard, 2021.
MODERATOR & PANELIST
“Time to Talk” Series of 8 Programs in response to election of Donald Trump (on justice matters in realms of women, LGBTQ, race, immigration, public education, environment, economy, interfaith), sponsored by NAACP, Brevard, NC, spring 2017.
CURRENT INTERESTS & RESEARCH
“Christian nationalism” as demonic distortion of faith and symbols in service of white men’s claims to economic, racial, sexual, and species power.
White supremacy and deconstructing “whiteness”.
“Capitalist spirituality” (term coined by Beverly W. Harrison).
Earth and animals as spiritual teachers.
Probing many dimensions of relational mutuality.
How much to learn, how far to go, in creating with one another and the earth a sane, sustainable home.