Campus in the evening

The Rev. Rode Molla, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, the Berryman Family Chair for Children’s Spirituality and Nurture

The Rev. Rode Molla, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor, Berryman Family Chair for Children’s Spirituality and Nurture at Virginia Theological Seminary, and an ordained pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).

Dr. Molla is a native of Ethiopia. In Ethiopia, she worked first as a children’s program director and then at the denominational level of the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus (EECMY), where she collaborated with diverse ethnic groups, religious leaders, and national and international organizations that work for social justice, peace, and reconciliation of children. Her practical work with pastors, children, and youth ministers, and theologians focused on empowering those most at risk to resist the social, cultural, and economic injustice that exposes children to risk. Dr. Molla’s work specifically analyzes the risks and unjust social and political practices that children face through a pastoral care practice of resistance, empowerment, liberation, and nurture to encourage holistic development and socially just ministerial and political practices.

Dr. Molla’s research and writing interests employ an interdisciplinary approach at the intersection of lived religion, the spirituality of children and families, postcolonial studies, political, intercultural, and postcolonial pastoral and practical theological methods, and critique of neoliberalism.

Dr.  Molla holds a B.Th. from the Mekane Yesus Seminary, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 2005; an M.A. in Children, Youth, and Family Ministry from Luther Seminary, Saint Paul, MN, 2013; a Master of Theology from Western Theological Seminary, Holland, MI, 2015; and a Ph.D. in Religion from the University of Denver and Iliff School of Theology, Denver, CO, 2021.

Dr. Molla has intercultural, interdenominational, intercontinental, and interdisciplinary ministerial, academic, and teaching expertise and experiences. Dr. Molla received the Outstanding Th.M. Thesis Award from the Western Theological Seminary in 2015; the Inclusive Excellence Scholarship from the University of Denver for the 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 academic years; the Outstanding Research and Writing Award from the University of Denver and the Iliff School of Theology Joint Doctoral Program in 2018; and the Larry Kent Graham Pastoral Care Award in 2019 from the Iliff School of Theology in 2019.

Dr. Molla’s recently published book, A Postcolonial Political Theology of Care and Praxis in Ethiopia’s Era of Identity Politics: Reframing Hegemonic and Fragmented Identities (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2023).

Recent peer-reviewed articles include: “Children’s Experiences Matter: An Interdisciplinary Approach” in the Journal of Religious Education (March 2023); “Decolonizing Identity Politics Through Subjective In-Betweenness” in The New Polis, 1 (Fall 2022): 167-185; “From Holistic Theology to In-Between Theology: The Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus” in the Journal for Cultural and Religious Theory, 21 (Spring 2022): 202-219; Molla, Rode; “Reframing the Adwa Victory as a Decolonizing Praxis: Discourse Around Colonization in the Ethiopian Context,” Journal of Culture and Religious Theory 19, no. 2 (Spring 2020): 452-462; “Pastoral Care in the Living Web for At-Risk Children in Ethiopia” in The Journal of Pastoral Theology Volume 28, Issue 3 (2018):189-102. Molla, Rode and Conner, Benjamin T.; and “Beyond the Limitations of Applying Western Youth Ministry Thought to an Ethiopian Context.” Journal of Youth Ministry 16, no. 3 (Fall, 2018): 48-64.

Dr. Molla is a member of the American Academia of Religion (AAR), the Society for Pastoral Theology (SPT), and the Religious Education Association (REA). She also serves on the editorial board for the Journal of Pastoral Theology.