“Shake the Shoulds”
Rev. Dr. Irie L. Session
Sunday, March 26 @ 5:10 pm
Rev. Dr. Irie L. Session
Raised in public housing in New York City, Dr. Irie Lynne Session developed a value for education, a passion for social justice, and a love of theology. She holds an undergraduate degree in Social Work; a Master of Divinity w/concentration in Black Church Studies from Brite Divinity School at Texas Christian University; and a Doctor of Ministry in Transformative Leadership and Prophetic Preaching from Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School.
Dr. Irie is an ordained clergywoman with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). From 2006-2012, she served as the Associate Minister for the North Texas Area of the Christian Church in the Southwest, overseeing 84 congregations. She was the first African-American to hold that position. Dr. Irie is the present past President of the Black Ministers Fellowship for the National Convocation of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), having served a six year term.
Dr. Irie has dedicated the last 14 years to New Friends New Life (NFNL), a Dallas non-profit whose mission is to restore and empower trafficked teen girls and sexually exploited women and their children. In her role as Resident Pastor and Director of Spiritual Support & Leadership University, Dr. Irie has helped hundreds of women and their children overcome backgrounds of abuse, addiction, poverty and limited opportunities. As part of her ministry with NFNL she also oversees Women’s Prison Outreach.
Through her gifts of teaching, preaching, and writing, Dr. Irie’s raison d’être, (reason for being) is to empower and honor women; and, dismantle forces keeping women from seeing themselves as God’s Masterpiece.
Dr. Irie is known for teaching biblical texts in ways that are relevant and practical. Her theological training in Womanist Biblical Interpretation equips her to responsibly re-examine biblical texts in ways that help women discover and reclaim their unique value and voice. Because she brings all of who she is to every facet of her teaching ministry her style is interactive, energetic, and empathic. Having survived her own traumatic experiences, Dr. Irie continues to thrive amid a racists and sexist culture.
Simultaneous to working for NFNL, Dr. Irie spent ten years as a pastor serving three Disciples congregations—New Life Christian Church (a church plant) which merged with an older aging congregation to become Rosemont Christian Center-a diverse multi-cultural congregation. Her last assignment was to Warren Avenue Christian Church— a 148 year-old congregation where Dr. Irie became their first female pastor. Under her leadership, Warren Avenue received a cultural upgrade, becoming known as “The Avenue.” The upgrade was designed to focus the congregation’s ministry and witness to the South Dallas Community in which it was situated. During her tenure, The Avenue experienced an increase in, young adult membership and ministry; Sunday school attendance; and outreach to the community. The congregation also celebrated the Ordination of their first female Deacons, and developed a reputation as a teaching and mentoring congregation for seminary students. Additionally, under Dr. Session’s guidance the Avenue completed the first two phases of Congregational Transformation with help from Disciples Home Mission; the Mission and Vision developed during their process became a model for other transforming congregations.
Dr. Irie’s other vocational history includes Social Work positions with Bryan’s House, an organization serving children and families impacted by HIV/AIDS; the Texas Department of Criminal Justice where she served as a Senior Parole Officer; and The Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services as an Investigator for Child Abuse & Neglect.
Recognized as an “Outstanding Young Woman in America,” Dr. Irie has continued to be the recipient of prestigious awards. In 2009, she was the recipient of the Distinguished Ministers Award for Innovative Ministry by the Brite Divinity School Alumni Association. That same year she also received the Legacy Torch Award from the Urban League of Greater Dallas for Outstanding Service to the Dallas Community. In September 2011, she received the “Women Who Make A Difference” award for exemplary service to the Dallas Community. In March 2015, she received the Hope Award from the National Association of Business and Professional Women’s Club, and May 2015, from the Center for Theological Activism, Dr. Irie was awarded recognition as a Theological Activist, one who puts her theological education at the service of both church and community.
Dr. Irie is featured on television, radio, and in a variety of magazine articles addressing issues such as sexual Abuse, HIV/AIDS, racism, gender & sexuality, commercial sexual exploitation, and women in ministry. She’s in demand as a preacher and presenter at conferences, lectureships, consultant, and workshops across the United States and abroad.
She is a published author. Her latest publication, Murdered Souls, Resurrected Lives: Postmodern Womanist Thought in Ministry with Women Prostituted and Marginalized by Commercial Sexual Exploitation, was released March 2015 and available on Amazon.com and at Barnes & Noble. Dr. Irie also has a chapter in, One Church: A Bicentennial Celebration of Thomas Campbell’s Declaration & Address. In her chapter, “The Problem of Full Communion,” Dr. Irie discusses the theological and spiritual challenges for African-American women in Churches of Christ who are called by God to pastoral leadership.
Recognized for her biblical scholarship, Dr. Irie was commissioned by The International Office of Disciples Women to be a contributing researcher and author for their 2014 JUSTWOMEN Magazine Series on, “Women in the Bible Seeking Justice.” Dr. Session’s contributions were articles on, “The Daughter of Jephthah” in Judges 11 and “Tamar” in 2nd Samuel 13. She also has an upcoming article in the Spring 2017 issue, “Blessings and Burdens: Ministry with Survivors of CSE and Sex Trafficking.”
Currently, Dr. Irie writes a weekly blog RealTalk with Dr. Irie at www.dririe.com and Live Streams RealTalk Bible Study Tuesday evenings at 7:00pmcst, on Facebook.
Last but certainly not least, Dr. Irie is the proud mother of India Liana Session, a freelance make-up artist with MAC cosmetics. Dr. Irie and India together have two cats, Princess Bitty and Blue.