Inaugural Cohort

Congratulations to our Inaugural Cohort Graduates of 2022!


Kelly G. Anderson

Vonda K. Bell

Clinton A. Feemster

Eric Forsbergh

Deborah L. Tillman


The Graduate Certificate in Biblical Justice Formation (GCBJF) is a program of study designed for students interested in what the Bible says about justice and what relevance that has for people today, particularly Christians.

The program is ideal for ministers and lay persons in all callings who are interested in espousing justice as a virtue.

The GCBJF is a Master’s level program where each student is paired with a mentor. Here are the inaugural mentor & mentee pairs:

  • Mentor: Danielle Bridgeforth
  • Mentee: Kelly
  • Mentor: Drew Hill
  • Mentees: Clinton & Vonda
  • Mentor: Samuel Feemster
  • Mentees: Deborah
  • Mentor: Sean Roberds
  • Mentees: Eric

Who We’ve Become

For their final project the inaugural cohort wrote reflection papers about their journey through the Graduate Certificate in Biblical Justice Program and its impact on their beliefs, behaviors, and ministry. Click each name to read some of their thoughts:

Kelly Anderson

Through the course of this inaugural IJF cohort, I cannot say enough about the positive impacts this has had in both my ministry and in my life personally. When I entered into the cohort in the Fall 2020 semester, I honestly was not quite sure what I was getting into…Then I remember when professor Feemster asked me to join the cohort as the Spring 2021 semester began and even though I did not know what to expect, I was excited for the opportunity. Little did I know that the invitation from professor Feemster would lead me on such an incredible journey over the past couple of semesters. There are three categories that have shaped me deeply over the course of this cohort experience: The relationships, the readings, and the practical experience.

Vonda Bell

He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? – Micah 6:8

Author Gregory Mobley, describes Micah as someone who “condemned religious practice unaccompanied by ethical performance.”  What a thought-provoking description!  Micah is calling out those religious folks who know the Bible from cover-to-cover; go to church every Sunday; serve on every committee; participate in every communion—-and yet sit silent in the face of injustice.  As I reflect on my journey through the graduate certificate program in biblical justice, I can say with absolute certainty that I never want to fit Micah’s description of someone who practices religion while simultaneously acting unethically.

Clinton Feemster

I have attempted to serve as a pastor for many years, and I am unsure if I have employed ministry as carefully as the scripture intended. Following this course, I hope to incorporate the information into our church so that we become a Justice Ministry focus church rather than a program focus church… I leave this course with a greater appreciation for justice and righteousness, along with a more profound commitment to living according to the standards of God’s justice, and stand for people who are disenfranchised, marginalized, and disinherited. The church must take an active role in sounding the alarm for God’s justice in an unjust society. The Mt. Pisgah Baptist Church is slowly moving towards a justice ministry. Our last church conference, we embraced the ministry of “Justice Involved.”  The idea is to place the same value on others as God has placed on us.

Eric Forsbergh

It is hard to underestimate the change wrought in me and my thinking since August 27, 2020, when I began my first class with the Institute for Justice Formation under Professor Feemster. In the past forty years of my life, I have undergone three profound periods of change in my life, and seminary at Leland has been one of them. My new understanding of faith, of biblical justice, and of poor and Black communities has informed my actions from this point onward. For example, I never expected to teach a class or give a sermon on racial justice to my all-White church, and now that will most likely happen, since all the signs are encouraging in the planning stages, even from the conservative members of my Leesburg Presbyterian Church.

Deborah Tillman

“If we merge mercy with might and might with right, then love becomes our legacy and change our children’s birthright.”

The words above are from Amanda Gorman, reciting ‘The Hill We Climb’ at the inauguration and encapsulates my entire journey through the Graduate Certificate in Biblical Justice Program.

Before our first class ever convened, we were given a survey that asked: “Explain what biblical justice means to you?”  Then, during our first class a quote from Cornel West was mentioned as a response.  “Justice is what love looks like in public” Sounds good but for me what it looked like in public in the face of racial wounds was hatred and I was angry.  Anger doesn’t drive me anymore passion does but that is because the process of transforming my heart was what I prayed for throughout this entire journey…Throughout this journey,  I have learned how to love more like Jesus loves.  The courses in Biblical Justice have all been instrumental in my understanding of what love truly is.  Hart says that love is revolutionary.