ABOUT

the Vincent and rosemarie harding
center for spiritual and social restoration

The Center for Social and Spiritual Restoration is a national project that offers a common space where people of different social locations come together to address the spiritual and social impediments that stand in the way of building a beloved community. The center seeks to create a more realized democracy that is both transformative and sustainable. Central to its mission is raising a new generation of activists who understand that spiritual maturity and social justice are inextricably bound together and essential for sustainable change. This is an intergenerational project that relies on hindsight, insight, and foresight in shaping programs and building relationships. This project offers the possibility of redemption, reconciliation, and restoration for all of us.

Founding Directors

Dr. Ruby Sales

(Photo by Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

(Photo by Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

As a teenager at Tuskegee University, Dr. Ruby Sales joined the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC)  and went to work as a student freedom fighter in Lowndes County, Alabama. She is a beloved public theologian, a long distance runner for justice and a former college professor.  Teaching in the areas of civil, gender, and other human rights have been central to her.  She is deeply involved with Black Lives Matter and young people. Dr. Sales has a proven track record in conflict resolution and consensus building. She sees our work today as a spiritual call that rearranges our relationship with God, each other, and all of creation. She is one of 50 African-Americans from the civil rights movement honored at the National Museum of African-American History and Culture. She has preached at churches, spoken at universities, and non-profits around the country.  Read more about Dr. Sales' nonprofit, The Spirit House Project.
 

Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis

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The Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis is Senior Minister at Middle Collegiate Church, a 1200-member multiracial, welcoming, and inclusive congregation in New York City. She is an activist, preacher, and fierce advocate for racial equality, economic justice, and LGBTQ equality. Middle Church and Dr. Lewis' activism for these issues has been featured in media such as The Today ShowThe Washington Post, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Post, The New YorkerEssence and The Huffington Post. Dr. Lewis is a frequent contributor to MSNBC.  She is the author of The Power of Stories10 Essential Strategies to Grow a Multiracial, Multicultural Congregation; and the children’s book, You Are So Wonderful! 

Dr. Lewis is the Co-Founder of The Middle Project, which hosts an annual conference to train faith leaders to build multiracial congregations and address racial justice. The 12th annual conference, “Revolutionary Love – Complete the Dream,” was held on April 6–8, 2018 at Middle Church in New York City. Read more about The Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis on her website.
 

About Vincent and Rosemarie Harding

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Rosemarie Florence Freeney Harding was a tireless teacher, social worker, civil rights leader, and healer. She was especially known for her deep spirituality and commitment to nonviolence. The youngest of nine siblings, Harding was born in Chicago, Illinois on July 24, 1930 to Dock Freeney, Jr. and Ella Lee Harris Freeney. She married Vincent Harding in 1960 in Chicago. Vincent G. Harding, civil rights leader, teacher, scholar, engaged citizen, and seeker was especially noted for his close association with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his decades of social justice work. He was the Professor of Religion and Social Transformation at the Iliff School of Theology in Denver for over two decades. Harding was born on July 25, 1931 in Harlem. The couple had two children, Rachel and Jonathan. 

Vincent and Rosemarie Harding moved to the U.S. South in 1961 for direct involvement in the black freedom struggle. In the 1960s Harding assisted Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in a variety of ways but most notably in the writing of King’s 1967 “Beyond Vietnam” speech. Vincent Harding served as the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Center’s first director in 1968 and one year later established and directed the Institute of the Black World, both in Atlanta, Georgia.

As representatives of the Mennonite Central Committee, the Hardings founded Mennonite House in Atlanta. They also organized the first multiracial delegation to Nicaragua through Witness for Peace in 1983. They were advisors for the PBS (Public Broadcasting System) television series Eyes on the Prize, documenting the civil rights movement in 1986. The Hardings established the Veterans of Hope Project in Denver in 1997, an educational initiative bringing together religion, culture, and participatory democracy.

Vincent Gordon Harding died in Philadelphia on May 19, 2014. He was 82. Rosemarie Harding died following complications from diabetes in Denver in 2004.  She was 74. More information about the Hardings can be found at the Veterans of Hope website.