In his upbringing in the southern United States, Christianity is a part of the culture. “I grew up around a lot of doctrine, but not a lot of systematic theology,” he said.
He had many questions about theology as it related to the Black American community and mental health which led him to the WCC Global Ecumenical Theological Institute (GETI) project.
“I wanted to know where to get the answers,” he said.
He is working on earning his master’s degree in pastoral care at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, Georgia. The courses offered through GETI reinforced and challenged his theology and approaches to his future practice in counseling.
“In my future therapeutic technique, I want it to include spirituality,” he said. “Being a part of GETI allowed me to capture the perspective of different Christian faiths.”
He found answers he wasn’t expecting. Much of Tinsley’s beliefs have been shaped by Black Liberation Theology, believing the church has a responsibility to affirm the safety, dignity and inclusion of Black and minority bodies within theological discourse, he said.
“I was having a conversation with our chaplain [through GETI],” Tinsley said. “And he told me, contextual theology is important, but it must be catholic.”
He has learned that while focusing on issues faced by Black people in the United States, he must not forget to “include the entirety of humanity as well as their perspectives in the conversations.” He was reminded that the gospel of Jesus Christ is for everyone.