Kaleo Center Questions and Answers

Questions and Answers.

What’s the history of Kaleo Center?

Kaleo Center (formerly The Center for Public Ministry) was founded in 2010 by Steve Newcom as an independent (self-funded and directed) initiative sponsored by United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities.

As a Bush Foundation Fellow (2007-2009), Newcom researched the intersection of theological education and social justice ministry. He discovered significant gaps in the practical competencies of justice ministry. In response, Newcom developed a skill-based typology that would make it possible to advance public ministry as a discipline. In founding the Center for Public Ministry and partnering with United, Newcom hoped to augment the “why” of social justice ministry—its theory and theology—with a more focused “how,” by teaching practical methods of social change and effectively preparing clergy and lay leaders to engage in social justice in both congregational and community settings.

As the Center for Public Ministry took hold, the Center’s work began to bridge diverse faith and social justice communities. It became clear that “public ministry” did not have the anticipated recognition or understanding. The Center needed a different kind of name.

The leadership team embarked on a process to clarify the Center’s purpose, values, vision and strategic plan—and then to create a new name and logo representing those essential elements.

What does Kaleo mean?

Kaleo—pronounced “ka-léh-oh”—is a word that connects two sides of our planet with two distinct origins. In Hawaiian, “ka leo” means “the voice.” In Greek, “kaleo,” means “to call,” “to invite,” or “to summon.” At the intersection of these thoughts is our name. “Kaleo” expresses our self-understanding as a voice calling forth justice across faith communities.

The word kaleo occurs more than 146 times in the Christian testament. It is at the root of many other words as well, including parakaleo (to comfort), parakletos (an advocate or intercessor) and — most importantly — ekklesia: a gathering of the faithful.

What is Kaleo Center’s focus?

Kaleo Center stands at the intersection of faith and public life, joining faith leaders and communities as powerful forces for change. The work of Kaleo Center is focused on researching effective strategies, teaching core competencies and strengthening best practices in the context of a strong theological foundation.

Kaleo Center has four programmatic objectives:

  • Pioneering an integrative framework that advances social transformation as a practical theological discipline
  • Creating curriculum, classes and programs that equip students and faith leaders with the skills required for effective and sustained social justice leadership
  • Partnering with social justice organizations to increase community impact and deepen understanding of the applied dynamics of social change
  • Engaging and supporting faith-bases social justice practitioners to sustain their work and deepen core competencies

What makes Kaleo Center unique?

Over the years, communities of faith have provided significant leadership for transformational movements (which, in turn, have been fueled by theological frameworks, religious beliefs and shared community); however, progressive communities of faith have not sustained their power and leadership in social justice.

Kaleo Center’s unique priorities are to:

  • Prepare and inspire faithful leaders as powerful agents for social change; and
  • Advance the praxis of social transformation as a practical theological discipline.

In its work, and in partnership with United, Kaleo Center works at the forefront of re-imagined theological education for social transformation, equipping faith leaders for effective engagement in the public square.

Who does Kaleo Center partner with in the community?

Kaleo Center staff have and continue to partner with the Center for Sustainable Justice, Black Lives Matter Minneapolis, Jewish Community Action, MUUSJA (Minnesota Unitarian Universalist Social Justice Alliance), MARCH (Multi-faith Anti-Racism Change and Healing), and other community groups and activists to address social justice issues in the Twin Cities.

What is a KaleoExpress workshop?

Free, usually monthly 90-minute crash courses in social transformation given by activists and experts in the field. Past topics have included practicing Sabbath as resistance, branding, fundraising, one-to-ones as a spiritual practice, self-care for activists, theology of improv, community engagement, how to engage with the press, and more. Watch our Upcoming Events calendar on the homepage for the next one!

What has the Kaleo Center accomplished since its founding in 2010? 

Since its founding in 2010, the Center has hosted a number of events and trainings at the intersection of faith and public life, placed 25 seminarians in social justice-based internships, engaged with United faculty in ongoing curriculum development, consulted with congregations and denominational leaders, provided leadership in the national Interfaith Organizing Initiative, facilitated peer consultation groups for faith leaders, and worked collaboratively with community partners in faith based organizing initiatives.

Kaleo Center now provides students in both master’s and Doctor of Ministry degree programs at United with a concentration in Social Transformation. Kaleo Center was and continues to be vital in the formation of United’s Master of Arts in Leadership (MAL) degree and other degrees and certificates in Social Transformation. The MAL in Social Transformation has been designated as one of United’s flagship programs, and Steve Newcom has also been given the title of Director of Social Transformation Education at United.

What is the relationship between Kaleo Center and United?

From a strategic perspective, United considers Kaleo Center to be of critical importance in its ongoing mission to re-imagine theological education and its role as a leader in equipping students for social justice ministry.

From a fiduciary perspective, United is Kaleo Center’s sponsoring institution as a 501(c)3, although Kaleo Center has been and intends to continue to be a financially self-sustaining initiative.

Does Kaleo Center have a social media presence?

Yes! Please like us on Facebook! (We’ve got a Twitter too, but it doesn’t get used much right now…)

How can I learn more?

To speak with a member of the Kaleo staff, you may contact:

Steve Newcom, Founding Director

Liz Loeb, Associate Director

Chelsea Stanton, Program & Admin Coordinator

Or you may wish to use our contact form on this site: Contact Us

Welcome to Kaleo Center