chimes.sum2013.web0729 - page 26

Rev. Dr. James Noel and family.
SFTS CHIMES | Summer 2013
By Rachel Howard
he Rev. Dr. James Noel meets
San Francisco Theological
Seminary’s call for commu-
nity service through an unexpected
avenue—his artistic talent. In addition
to his roles as professor of American
Religion at SFTS, as H. Eugene Far-
lough, Jr. Chair of African American
Christianity, and as pastor of New
Liberation Presbyterian Church, Noel
is also a gifted painter. His vibrant art-
work, which is on display throughout
the SFTS campus, represents a conver-
gence of culture, spirituality, worship,
and community service.
Noel recently forged a partnership
with Marin City’s
The Hannah Proj-
, a nonprofit college and career pre-
paratory program that equips youth
of color and their families to prepare
for college and career success. In an
effort to support the nonprofit’s mis-
sion, Noel and The Hannah Project’s
president and executive director Bet-
tie Hodges organized an exhibition of
Noel’s paintings in Marin City. The
exhibit, titled “The Rhythm of Our
People: Blackness in Three Moods,”
extended from March through April,
raising nearly $3,000 from the sale of
Noel’s art for the nonprofit’s scholar-
ship fund.
Noel is no stranger to the Marin
City community. A graduate of the
University of California-Berkeley, he
served as pastor of Marin City’s St.
Andrew Presbyterian Church from
1976 to 1987. He also served as the
first chair of the Community Devel-
opment Organization of Marin City,
which developed 40 acres of land into
a shopping center, condominiums
with housing for low-income families,
and a new church building for his St.
Andrew congregation.
While serving as chair of the Com-
munity Development Organization,
Noel reconnected with Hodges, who
subsequently reached out to Noel this
year to see if he would loan some of his
art for a display in celebration of Black
History Month.
Hodges describes the resulting
exhibit as “… a wonderful exhibition
that intuitively captures the pathos
and pain of the African diaspora ex-
perience—and subconsciously depicts
the emotions of a community and a
people hoping to determine its own
destiny.” Hodges says the exhibit,
along with “the reentry of James Noel
into the Marin City community, is
a breath of fresh air, signaling that
change is afoot.... It is a reminder
of the role that faith played among
youthful advocates and a young pas-
tor who believed that we could make
change happen in Marin City.”
SFTS professor James Noel donates
art to benefit local nonprofit
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