ABCD Institute > Institute Faculty > Active Faculty > Melissa Browning

Melissa Browning, in memoriam


In Memoriam, April 8, 2021: 

The ABCD Institute lost one of its very best this morning. After a long battle with cancer, Melissa passed away having spent her last days surrounded with family and friends, sharing love, laughter and tears. She will always be remembered for her innate ability to find the gifts in those around her, her joyful spirit, keen intellect and endless energy to use her gifts to make this a better world. 

Melissa joined the ABCD Institute as a Fellow in 2017. She had been practicing and teaching ABCD for years and brought a tremendous amount of knowledge, energy and experience to the Institute. Melissa devoted her time to the ABCD Institute serving on the ABCD Board, heading several Institute trainings, working as a consultant on the Institute of Museums and Library Service grants, and serving on several ABCD working groups. 

She has left an indelible mark on those who have known her. Many have expressed how having worked with Melissa was not only a pleasure, but has made them more effective ABCD practitioners. With much love and gratitude from the ABCD community.

“I had the tremendous fortune to work closely with Melissa these last 4 years from the time she joined the IMLS ABCD Team. She dove right in to help co-design the evaluation and coaching process and continued throughout to be an infallibly bright light of creativity, innovation, authenticity, cheerfulness and easy-going grace in our team. One thing I learned from her was the habit / saying, 'My gut says...' regarding anything I or the team were grappling with. She was always deeply affirming of anyone in her presence. She made everything she did with others feel light, energizing and fun. She was a brilliant ABCD teacher and practitioner and someone who deeply inspired me around how much you can do with one life ‘
 -April Doner, Project Director, IMLS Community Catalyst Evaluation

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Melissa Browning was a theologian, ethicist, and activist who studied congregational and community-based responses to injustice. Melissa taught at McAfee School of Theology at Mercer University where she was the Assistant Professor of Contextual Ministry. She also directed McAfee’s community development concentration designing new curriculum in community development, community organizing, and social entrepreneurship. Additionally, Melissa was active in death penalty abolitionist work in Georgia and an ordained Baptist minister. Her research, a grounded theory ethnographic study,  focused ​on looking at non-traditional congregations, solidarity, and social change.​ 


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