Educating imaginative, resilient leaders for God's changing world.

Montreat Lectures: The Role of Religion and Race in U.S. Politics

by Lifelong Learning Staff

Seminary display in Convocation Hall during 2012 lectures

Preparation for the seventh summer lecture series at Montreat are in full swing. Meeting for three mornings in July in Convocation Hall, participants will be challenged to consider and confront the implications of religion and race in U.S. politics. “This year promises to continue to challenge our thinking about how faith and life, race and religion play out in U.S. politics,” says Charlie Raynal, director of the Presbyterian History and Reformed Theology Program (PHRT) at the seminary. “We are fortunate to be able to explore these with three such distinguished scholars and contributors to this important conversation.”

The series begins each morning at 9:00 AM with worship led by Paul Huh, assistant professor of worship and director of Korean American Ministry at the seminary, assisted by Eric Wall, Montreat Conference Center director of worship and music. The lectures follow worship and conclude by 11:30 AM.

Monday’s speaker, Johnny B. Hill, will begin with a conversation focusing on “The World House (and the White House).” Drawing upon contemporary and classical work on the theology of difference, inclusion, and reconciliation, he will share tools and resources to use to continue this work. Currently serving as Associate Professor of Philosophy and Religion at Claflin University in Orangeburg, South Carolina, Hill is the author of The First Black President: Barack Obama, Race, Politics, and the American Dream, which will feature prominently in his presentation.

On Tuesday July 16, Julia M. Speller will lead a discussion on “Black Churches and Prophetic Witness in a Political World.” Drawing on her experience with congregations and study of religious experience and practice in 20th Century U.S., Speller will provide a historical overview of black congregations through lenses of race, self-identification, and relationship with their social and political environments. The conversation will include a discussion of the role of religious education in sustaining prophetic movements and congregations. Speller, Associate Professor of American Religious History & Culture at Chicago Theological Seminary, is a contributing author to “A Pedagogy of the Unmasked: “Unheard but Not Unvoiced, Unseen but Not Invisible,” Teaching for a Culturally Diverse and Racially Just World, scheduled for release Spring, 2013.

The series will conclude on Wednesday with Mark Douglas, who will provide both a response to the previous two days and share his thoughts on “Politics, Ethnography and the Church.” Douglas, Associate Professor of Christian Ethics and Director of the Master of the Arts in Theological Studies Degree at Columbia Theological Seminary, will lead participants to consider how congregational witness is incarnational and can shape a faith community’s long term aspirational vision.

This seventh in a series of annual lectures now sponsored by Johnson C. Smith Seminary, Montreat Conference Center, and Columbia Theological Seminary will be the last of its kind. “We look forward to creating new opportunities to learn and work together,” stated Deborah F. Mullen, Dean of Faculty and Executive Vice President at CTS. “We are exploring new ventures to build on the contributions of Erskine Clarke, the founder of the PHRT, and Charlie Raynal, current director. Our hope is that the rich partnership will continue to result in learning events at Montreat, in greater Atlanta, and beyond.”

Advance registration is not required, and there is no charge for this event.

For more information about the lecture series, contact Columbia Theological Seminary’s Center for Lifelong Learning at or call 404.687.4577. For more information about Montreat Conference Center, call 828.419.9807 or visit