Senior Associate Culture Editor

Jenna Barnett is senior associate culture editor at Sojourners

Jenna was born in San Antonio, Texas, and has found home in California, Georgia, South Carolina, and Washington, D.C. She has a B.A. in sociology and religion from Furman University and an M.F.A in Literary Reportage from New York University.

Before joining the Sojourners team, Jenna managed the International Rescue Committee’s large urban gardens in San Diego, and worked as a Peace Writer for the Women PeaceMakers Program at the Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice, where she used creative nonfiction, interviews, and conflict analysis to tell the life story of Pauline Dempers, a human rights activist and torture survivor from Namibia. It's a life goal of Jenna's to continue uplifting the stories of women who are cooler than she is.

Jenna has written for McSweeney's, the Belladonna, and New York Magazine's Grubstreet. You can follow her on Twitter @jennacbarnett and see what she’s creating at

Posts By This Author

The Elusive Soul of America: What Our Editors Are Reading

by Jenna Barnett 01-22-2021

Photo by Luke Stackpoole on Unsplash

We’ve heard an awful lot of talk about the soul during this inauguration week. Which is not all that surprising, given that President Joe Biden described the 2020 campaign season as a “battle for the soul of America.”

9 Books Our Editors Loved This Year

by Jenna Barnett 12-18-2020

Reading was the safest way to travel this year — sometimes to another decade and another brand of violence, sometimes to a different continent or a different galaxy altogether. Below are Sojourners' editors' favorite books of the year. Most of these books came out years ago, but by reading them through the lens of 2020, we found new wisdom, escape, resonance, and hope.

A Word Cloud for 2020: What Our Editors Are Reading

by Jenna Barnett 12-04-2020

2020, which allegedly ends later this month, has made us mourn, and within that and despite that, it’s made us creative. Below are 10 articles about how we survived, how we didn’t, and how we still could.

Begrudgingly Thankful: What Our Editors Are Reading This Week

by Jenna Barnett 11-24-2020

De-politicizing refugee resettlement, virtual Thanksgiving, and other stories our editors are reading.

No Unity Without Justice: Sermons from the Sunday After the Election

by Jenna Barnett 11-09-2020

In president-elect Joe Biden’s acceptance speech on Saturday he “pledge[d] to be a president who seeks not to divide, but to unify. Who doesn’t see red and blue states, but a United States.”

Yet over the weekend, some social media users used their platforms to warn pastors not to conflate peace-building and unity with forced reconciliation.

Counting Votes and Blessings: What Our Editors Are Reading

by Jenna Barnett 11-06-2020

Activists dressed as the White House, Philadelphia City Hall, and the United States Postal Service mailboxes in Philadelphia. November 5, 2020. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

It’s been a week of record highs: 143,855,830 people voted for Joe Biden or Donald Trump, and counting; 121,888 new daily cases of COVID-19 in the U.S., and counting.

The Vote Will Go On: What Our Editors Are Reading

by Jenna Barnett 10-30-2020

Conspiracy theories, pizza, and voting where Celine Dion once sang.

Most Americans Fear Post-Election Violence, New Study Finds

by Jenna Barnett 10-29-2020
And They Want Clergy to Promote Peaceful Protest

A man wearing a protective mask holds a sign outside Madison Square Garden, a polling station, on the first day of early voting in Manhattan. October 24, 2020. REUTERS/Jeenah Moon

According to new polling data from PRRI, 86 percent of Americans are concerned that there will be widespread violent protests in the aftermath of the upcoming election, revealing that both Republicans and Democrats share this fear.

For the Love of Faith, Justice, and Broccoli: What Our Editors Are Reading

by Jenna Barnett 10-16-2020

Praise-band superspreaders, the Supreme Court, and God as Gardener.

5 Bible Verses About Flies

by Jenna Barnett 10-08-2020

Chris Curry / Unsplash

Last night’s vice presidential debate left viewers with many questions: Would Mike Pence aid in a peaceful transition of power should Donald Trump lose the election? Why do Kamala Harris and Joe Biden like fracking so much? Why was Susan Page denied a mute button? And why was that fly so drawn to Pence, plexiglass be damned? Perhaps it was the vice president’s hairspray, or his chilling stillness, or his pinkish eye. We may never know for sure. But in my search for answers, I turned to the Bible.

Thoughts, Prayers, Mixed Feelings

by Jenna Barnett 10-02-2020
People of faith react to Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis

As news spread that Donald and Melania Trump have contracted COVID-19, thoughts, prayers, and tweets have started pouring in from across the U.S.

Hope in Dissent: What Our Editors Are Reading This Week

by Jenna Barnett 09-25-2020

Tributes to the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg outside the U.S. Supreme Court. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

It was hard to remain hopeful this week — this year, really. We’re living in an age of dissent.

Hazed and Confused: What Our Editors Are Reading This Week

by Jenna Barnett 09-18-2020

A U.S. flag on a wooden bear outside a home that was destroyed in the aftermath of the Beachie Creek fire in Detroit, Orego. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

We’ve been running out of places to put all this smoke, all this bad, bad news. So we share it, and hope that collectively we can hold it as we fight for a more just reality.

Tragic, Hopeful, Silly: What Our Editors Are Reading

by Jenna Barnett 09-11-2020

While Oregon wildfires consumed nearly a million acres in just 72 hours, domestic and international powers looked for ways to alter the results of the upcoming election. But somehow, joy has also continued, mainly because it must.

Spiritual Care at the Front Lines of the Pandemic

by Jenna Barnett 05-06-2020

A member of the medical staff sends a message at the Clinique de l'Estree private hospital in Stains, April 2020. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

“When there’s a code blue or a stroke — when there’s pandemonium and crisis — everyone goes running,” Canosa said. “We joke that chaplains don’t run. Part of what we do is offer that calm and compassionate presence.”

Fasting From Food Waste in a Season of Hoarding

by Jenna Barnett 04-03-2020

Photo by Elevate on Unsplash

When Raleigh Mennonite Church decided to fast from food waste for Lent, they didn’t know that 14 days in, the World Health Organization (WHO) would declare COVID-19 a pandemic. At a time when a core group of members planned on salvaging still-edible food from the dumpsters outside of grocery stores, hoards of Americans emptied the supermarket shelves of essentials like milk and bread and boxed wine.

Policymakers Express Bipartisan Support for Restoring Dignity to Incarcerated Women

by Jenna Barnett 07-17-2019

Photo by Ye Jinghan on Unsplash

This week, a U.S. House Judiciary subcommittee held a hearing on women in the criminal justice system. While women only make up 7 percent of the prison population, the incarceration rate for women has increased at twice the pace as the incarceration rate for men since 1980, disproportionately impacting women of color.

The Best Soccer Team in U.S. History Wants Justice

by Jenna Barnett 07-10-2019

Photo by Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports


Just under a hundred days before their first World Cup match (in which they would score a record-breaking 13 goals), every member of the team filed a class action, gender discrimination lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation. The timing of the announcement conveyed that the 23 other teams in the tournament would not be the only opponents of the USWNT this World Cup.

Let There Be Light

by Jenna Barnett 05-31-2019
When sexual abuse occurred in their church, Rev. Heidi Hankel and her congregation refused to let it stay hidden.

Rev. Heidi Hankel. Photo by Colin Lenton

DURING REV. HEIDI Hankel’s interview for the lead pastor position at Philadelphia’s Bethesda Presbyterian Church, she learned that one of the church’s deacons was under investigation by law enforcement for allegedly sexually abusing a member of the youth group. Hankel was later offered the job.

No one would blame even the bravest of pastors for turning it down, but fortunately for that small Presbyterian church, Hankel is a reverend who likes to hop down in the trenches to be with her parishioners. She was afraid, she said, but also propelled by her faith to address the violence openly and holistically. She took the job.

“I didn’t know if they would fire me,” said Hankel. “But I felt at least I could stand before God one day and say I handled this well.”

Hankel had a simple answer for why it is so important for church leaders to loudly and actively work to prevent and address abuse: “God isn’t silent. And if God isn’t silent, we as his body—his hands and feet—should not be silent.”

Rev. Dr. LaKeesha Walrond Named First Woman President of New York Theological Seminary

by Jenna Barnett 05-21-2019

Walrond said she is pleased “to have the opportunity to show all women that there are still many opportunities to be ‘the first.’”