The average person makes about 35,000 choices per day, and in a world filled with more ambiguity than not, Dr. Maria Russell Kenney seeks to make these decisions with the eyes of Christ. She grapples with questions about modern-day slavery, abortion, immigration, and the relationship between medicine, technology and ethics. In her classes, Dr. Kenney helps students put action to their theology to live out their faith in thoughtful, practical ways.
“Everybody makes decisions about how to live and what kind of person to be,” Dr. Kenney said. “That perspective might be flavored by a particular religious setting or where we’re from, but studying ethics and learning how to think about morality is something that we have to do no matter what we do in our lives.”
She raises questions, such as “Are we acting this way because it’s cultural or because we can back it up with a biblical foundation?” “Who grows our cheap food?” “How and why can we afford to buy inexpensive clothing?”
“Is it because of someone we don’t see who makes it happen?” she asked. “Are they made in the image of God? And if we think they are, then the church needs to be the one who says they are. Not because the church is afraid of progress, but because human beings can’t be commodified.”
Dr. Kenney has always believed it’s important to put action behind your beliefs. While she was in high school, her school started requiring random drug testing. She protested the illegal searches to the school board. In college at Texas Tech, she worked at the Texas Tech Wesley Foundation and participated in several mission trips, seeing many ways that evangelism and social action worked together. After graduating, she moved to Kentucky to work at the Appalachia Service Project, a Christian ministry that uses volunteers to repair and replace homes in central Appalachia.