Shaping Faith and Future
Dr. Karri Alldredge is opening new doors for textual exploration at LSTC
Dr. Karri Alldredge has always had a passion for the New Testament. Growing up in a Lutheran community, her faith has long been deeply rooted in the teachings of the Bible. But it was her journey through life, shaped by a unique blend of personal experiences and academic pursuits, that led her to the role of Assistant Professor of New Testament at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. Her focus on Queer biblical interpretation and trauma studies opens new opportunities for textual exploration at LSTC.
As a child, Dr. Alldredge was nurtured by St. Paul Lutheran Church (Port Huron, MI), a supportive ELCA Lutheran congregation that allowed her the space to explore her call to engage in all aspects of church and community life. Her journey had initially pointed toward becoming a Lutheran pastor, a path she was well-prepared for. However, her life and sense of call would take an unexpected turn during her MDiv studies at Union Theological Seminary in New York City (UTS).
While at UTS, Dr. Alldredge completed her field education with CONNECT, an organization deeply committed to preventing interpersonal violence and promoting intimate justice. There, she experienced how the Bible was both wielded as a weapon to keep people in dangerous situations and a source of hope. “This work is life and death, especially for communities where this a sacred text. It calls for finding new ways to approach texts and traditions that are truth-telling and transformative,” said Dr. Alldredge.
Witnessing firsthand how scripture could be used to justify violence and place individuals in dangerous situations prompted Dr. Alldredge to delve deeper into the New Testament to explore the nuances of a text that could be both life-giving and death-dealing.
Her journey in New Testament studies led her to two distinct paths of exploration. The first path focused on how biblical texts were shaped by and reflected the violence and trauma experienced by communities throughout history. Whether it was examining the traumatic impact of the destruction of the temple on the Gospel of Mark or the ongoing use of scripture to oppress marginalized groups, Dr. Alldredge examined how these texts were intimately intertwined with violence and trauma. Her research came to center on addressing how biblical texts and traditions are used to oppress LGBTQIA+ communities, as well as to bolster white supremacy.
But another side to her work was the exploration of how these same texts provided hope, inspiration, and resistance. She witnessed how these texts could empower individuals to find their voices and claim their space within their faith communities. This became especially true within her work in Queer Hermeneutics where she witnessed students’ breathing new life into texts, reflecting their own experiences in their interpretational work.
This desire to empower students extends into her classes where Dr. Alldredge believes in fostering learning communities where students can bring their wisdom, experiences, and perspectives. Dr. Alldredge shared, “The global nature of the LSTC community offers an opportunity for students to learn from and with one another as they seek to bring about transformative justice in their own communities.”
Her experience extends beyond the classroom as well. Dr. Alldredge spent 15 years in New York City, working at the United Nations, representing various NGOs in discussions about gender-based violence and media rights, particularly from a faith-based perspective. Through this work, she learned to recognize the unique role that faith-based organizations play in pursuing justice, acknowledging the harm religions have caused historically, while striving to contribute positively to global efforts for change.
“I intentionally call my classroom ‘learning communities’ where everyone contributes wisdom, bringing themselves and their communities of accountability into the space of engaging the text. In doing so, they develop skills to do critical work with the text in its many contexts.”Dr. Alldredge
Now, as the Assistant Professor of New Testament at LSTC, Dr. Alldredge is excited about the unique opportunity the seminary offers in seeking a professor focused on Queer biblical interpretation. This spring she’s preparing to teach Queer Hermeneutics and seeks to engender an intellectual space where everyone can grow. “I intentionally call my classroom ‘learning communities’ where everyone contributes wisdom, bringing themselves and their communities of accountability into the space of engaging the text. In doing so, they develop skills to do critical work with the text in its many contexts. For example, we examine Jesus’ teaching about not causing little ones to sin in Matthew 18:6 historically, as well as how it is used in anti-trans laws in the U.S. today. This helps students prepare for engaging the multiplicity of lived experiences in their present community, communities they’ll serve, and as well as encouraging them to be in dialogue with other communities.”
Because Dr. Alldredge understands the power of scripture in shaping perceptions and influencing policies, both positively and negatively, her goal is to equip her students and the wider community with the skills to critically engage with these texts, challenge oppressive interpretations, and hold space for a multiplicity of voices and perspectives.
For Dr. Alldredge, this is a grassroots change that needs to become systemic. She believes in the importance of not just saying the right words but embodying the values of openness, affirmation, and anti-oppression within faith communities. Her mission is to inspire her students to go beyond rhetoric and actively work for justice.
As she continues her work at LSTC, Dr. Alldredge will remain dedicated to her academic pursuits, her convictions, and her commitment to shape a more just and expansive world through the study and interpretation of the New Testament.