As fall transitioned into winter, Central Ohio provided Toni Bond with a refresher course on Midwest weather. She and her two dogs, Satchmo and Count Basie, moved here in August after she was appointed associate professor of ethics at MTSO.
“I was in Las Vegas, where it is probably in the 70s or 80s right now,” Bond said with a chuckle on a chilly autumn day. Not that this will be the first encounter with a blustery winter for the Chicago native. And it helps that she has received a warm welcome to campus.
“The reception has been amazing. The students are wonderful. They are very engaged, very insightful,” said Bond, who taught two semesters as an MTSO adjunct faculty member prior to her current appointment. She also has taught at Claremont School of Theology, where she earned her Ph.D. and a Master of Arts in Theology/Ethics. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Women and Gender Studies from DePaul University.
“During her time as an adjunct with us, Dr. Bond was highly respected by her students and colleagues,” said MTSO President Jay Rundell. “We’re happy to have her here now as part of our learning community on a full-time basis.”
Bond said she first entered academia “well into my adult life,” after years as an activist and nonprofit leader. She worked as a medical advocate at a rape crisis center before serving from 1994 to 2000 as executive director of the Chicago Abortion Fund. In addition, she was the co-founder, president and CEO of Black Women for Reproductive Justice, and was a project director for the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.
“I and 11 other Black women in 1994 coined the term ‘reproductive justice’ and started the reproductive justice movement,” Bond said. The movement “looks at the intersections of race and class and gender, and how they impact Black women’s ability to lead healthy reproductive and sexual lives.”
“During that time, I always wondered: What did God have to say about not just social-justice issues but how we ought to love people? What’s the ethical thing to do in these instances when people are confronted with having to make moral decisions about their reproductive lives? How do we support people in the midst of these moral dilemmas? And the only way I knew to do that was to go back to school and go to seminary.”
Bond has packed a lot into a relatively short time in the academic world, delivering lectures, leading panels, and writing for journals and popular media. She has contributed a chapter, “The Dobbs Decision, God, and Moral Conscience,” to the forthcoming book Resistance! Health Professionals, District Attorneys, Politicians, Religious Leaders, and Others Fight the End of Roe v. Wade.
In the classroom, she prompts students to wrestle with thorny ethical issues. One recent question pitted civic duty against parental duty: “So the authorities show up at your house. They are looking for your son, who has allegedly broken into your neighbor’s house. You are a parent of color, and your son is Black. What do you do? Do you tell them that your son is downstairs in the basement?”
Some students told her that, considering the injustices faced by people of color, their answer was no. “I said, ‘Even if you knew that more than likely your son had committed this crime?’ And they said, ‘Yeah, I would be afraid to just hand my son over.’”
“We can’t disregard the unique lens through which MTSO students look at how they offer pastoral care, how they pastor to members of the congregation,” Bond said. “Because they understand the particularities of the lives of the people that they are ministering to.”
By design, her class is not a place for easy answers.
“It’s very complicated. But we need to ensure that our religious leaders are as prepared as possible to have these conversations and to be sources of support for their congregants in the communities where they are.”
Methodist Theological School in Ohio provides theological education and leadership in pursuit of a just, sustainable and generative world. In addition to the Master of Divinity degree, the school offers master’s degrees in public theology, social justice and theological studies, along with a Doctor of Ministry degree.
Danny Russell, communications director