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What Ritual Does…

Part Three: Ritual Bring Us into a Divine Dance (the real-time, active participation in the transcendent, where the physical realm intercedes for the spiritual realm).

A Divine Dance; ritual creates a divine dance between the guide and the participants, the teacher, and the learner. Ritual uses the spiritual nature of rhythm, coordinated actions and speech to invoke teaching and learning as a “divine dance.” A dance, between the life’s purpose and mission of both the teacher and the student is at the heart of the exchange. It goes beyond discrete knowledge or application of course content. Ritual, when it is intentional, steps into the spiritual realm to illuminate the lessons we came here to receive. Ritual recognizes that everyone of us comes into being to learn a set of lessons. The lessons that aid us in becoming (better) and in sharing our becoming with others so that we are all becoming (better) and belonging.

Meaningfulness in learning is heightened when the learner can see and feel learning in alignment with purpose and the teacher sees and feels teaching as living-out purpose. Ritual not only pronounces this spirit work, but it also maintains this transcending dance while it seeks to intercede with earthly realities that would impede us from getting the lessons. Imagine this, a ritual lifting one’s life purpose and mission in ways that welcome, clarifiy, and situate the lessons as part of our Divine plan. Rituals create a Divine dance as expressions of wisdom and the gifts to be given as life’s mission are expressions of love.

For both the student and the teacher, every teaching moment is an opportunity to learn a transcending lesson, or to give a gift.  What ritual does is enlist our active participation in the unseen as it negotiates what we can see, speak, feel, and touch.

Itihari Y. Toure

About Itihari Y. Toure

Dr. Toure’s career spans all levels of education, from pre-school to higher education with a special focus on theological education. Her work in education and developing educational institutions in both the community and the church has resulted in the formation of seven independent Black schools, African centered Christian Education curricula, programs in higher education for Black women seminarians and clergy women and the significance of “sacred memory” (Sankofa) as a transformative element in Spirit Work. Dr. Toure’s most recent projects included work in curriculum and evaluation for several initiatives funded by the Lilly Endowment. Her work has supported the integration of a culturally responsive approach to addressing call and vocation, congregational work, and ministerial excellence. Dr. Toure also has a long association with the Samuel Dewitt Proctor Conference Inc. (“SDPC”) and she will provide assistance in the development of curriculum and programming related to the recently launched Center for Reparatory Justice, Transformation, and Remediation, a joint venture established by McCormick and SDPC directed and led by Dr. Iva Carruthers, General Secretary of SDPC. Dr. Toure comes to McCormick Theological Seminary after completing her nine-year tenure at the Interdenominational Theological Center where she initiated and directed the Sankofa Center for Data Evaluation and Quality Enhancement. Dr. Toure is an ordained Ruling Elder in the Presbyterian Church (USA), and previously served as the Educational Director of First African Presbyterian Church in Lithonia, GA. She has served as an Accreditation Liaison with the main accrediting agency in the southeast, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission.

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