Reaching out to the least of these

“Marginalia: To the Least of These” is an outreach/service group comprised of both student and faculty members at VDS. This group began in August 2009 when a group of students saw a need to bring awareness to the issue of homelessness in Nashville. The first year of the group’s existence was focused on delivering educational awareness opportunities to the Divinity community. Some activities Marginalia initiated were toiletries drives, pet food drives, clean up events, and an educational symposium. The second year is dedicated to providing more “hands-on” opportunities and to building relationships with our homeless community through these one-on-one interactions.  

Mission Statement

  • In 1875, Holland Nimmons McTyeire, Bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, and the first president of the Vanderbilt University Board of Trust, proclaimed the University theological community a Schola Prophetarum. In working to uphold the spirit of those who have created the “School of the Prophets,” Marginalia seeks to uphold this tradition by bearing witness to the needs and experiences of the Nashville homeless community.
  • We recognize that theological education is an ongoing process, and we seek to continue our own education and spiritual growth by reaching out to those on the margins.
  • In keeping with the commitments of Vanderbilt University Divinity School to be “effective agents in working for a more just and humane society,” Marginalia has “special concern for the oppressed, for prisoners, for the poor … and for the securing of equal opportunity for all individuals, peoples, and creatures to enjoy God’s gifts.”
  • Nashville has one of the largest homeless populations in the country and will experience an increase in displaced individuals after the controversial closing of Tent City; therefore, homelessness in Nashville is an issue that summons “appropriate action” from students within the Divinity school. Marginalia aspires to answer that summons in the manner of the prophets, speaking out and calling to action those in our community.

Statement of Purpose

Marginalia aspires to heed a prophet’s exhortation to “defend the rights of the poor and needy” in the following ways:

  • Educating ourselves and our community about the issues surrounding homelessness in Nashville
  • Living an authentic life of hospitality
  • Working with other Vanderbilt University organizations and homeless outreach organizations in Nashville
  • Promoting social justice for the homeless community
  • Embarking upon a ministry of presence

Suggested Participatory Engagements (subject to change through group consensus)

  • Toiletries drive held each semester (usually in conjunction with Lent or Thanksgiving).
  • Pet food drive held each semester (usually in conjunction with Gala or Halloween).
  • Annual symposium that seeks to educate the VDS community about homelessness in Nashville and cultivate community/relationship with Nashville’s homeless.
  • “Hands on” activities, such as “Tent City” clean-ups, etc.

For more information, contact
Zac Carmichael