Walter B. and Kay W. Shurden Lectures on
Religious Liberty and Separation of Church and State

Designed to enhance the ministry and programs of the Baptist Joint Committee, the lectures are held at Mercer University every three years and at another seminary, college or university the other years.

2019 Shurden Lectures

The Rev. Dr. Aidsand Wright-Riggins delivered the 2019 Walter B. and Kay W. Shurden Lectures on March 26-27, 2019, in the greater Kansas City area. The lectures were hosted by Central Baptist Theological Seminary in Shawnee, Kansas, and one was held on the William Jewell campus in nearby Liberty, Missouri. 

Click here to watch “Race, Resistance, Religion and Rage” on the BJC’s YouTube channel.

And, while he was in the Kansas City area, the Rev. Dr. Wright-Riggins appeared on “Up To Date,” a program produced by KCUR, the local NPR affiliate. You can listen to his interview on their podcast (his conversation begins about 27:41 in the podcast).

About the lecturer:
An ordained American Baptist minister with more than 40 years of community and congregational service, the Rev. Dr. Aidsand Wright-Riggins was recently elected the mayor of Collegeville, Pennsylvania. Before running for office, he served as CEO of the American Baptist Home Mission Societies and Judson Press. Wright-Riggins also served as a pastor in California for almost 20 years and as the Director of Peace with Justice with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

History of the Shurden Lectures

Shurdens endow lectures

In 2004, Dr. Walter B. Shurden and Dr. Kay W. Shurden of Macon, Georgia, made a gift to the BJC to establish an annual lectureship on the issues of religious liberty and the separation of church and state.

The lecturers, selected by the executive director of the BJC, may be academics, politicians, ministers, church historians, ethicists or activists. Above all, the Shurden Lecturer is someone who can inspire and call others to an ardent commitment to religious freedom and the separation of church and state.

Click here to read more about the genesis of the lectures or scroll down for more information about previous lectures.

Who are Walter and Kay Shurden?

A nationally noted church historian, Dr. Walter B. Shurden is the founding executive director of the Center for Baptist Studies and a minister at large for Mercer University. Shurden served at Mercer for almost 25 years as Callaway Professor of Christianity in the Roberts Department of Christianity in the College of Liberal Arts. During 18 of those years, he served as Chair of the Roberts Department of Christianity.  Dr. Kay W. Shurden retired after serving for 17 years as a professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Mercer University School of Medicine. An admired teacher, conference leader, mentor and church leader, she is an author and was a marriage and family therapist in Middle Georgia.

The origins of the Shurden Lectures with Walter B. and Kay W. Shurden

Read an interview with Walter B. Shurden from the January/February 2017 issue of Report from the Capital

Previous Shurden Lectures 

March 20-21, 2018
Lecturer: Charles C. Haynes, founding director of the Religious Freedom Center of the Freedom Forum Institute 
Location: Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, and Mercer’s McAfee School of Theology in Atlanta
Story        Video of Lecture #1    Video of Lecture #2    Video of Lecture #3   Podcast preview 

March 27-28, 2017
Lecturer: Holly Hollman, general counsel and associate executive director of the Baptist Joint Committee 
Location: Campbell University in Buies Creek, North Carolina
Story     Recap video    Video of Lecture #1    Video of Lecture #2

April 4-5, 2016
Lecturer: Molly T. Marshall, president of Central Baptist Theological Seminary
Location: Bethel University in St. Paul, Minnesota
Story     Recap video    Video of Lecture #1    Video of Lecture #2


brownstein closeup at medical school for webApril 7-8, 2015
Lecturer: Alan Brownstein, professor emeritus at the University of California, Davis, School of Law
Location: Mercer University in Atlanta and Macon, Georgia
Recap     Video #1    Video #2    Video #3

April 1-2, 2014
Lecturer: Michael I. Meyerson, professor of law at the University of Baltimore and author of Endowed by Our Creator: The Birth of Religious Freedom in America
Location: Baylor University, Waco, Texas
Recap    Video #1    Video #2

FB Flickr 4 BWApril 9-10, 2013
Lecturer: Baptist Joint Committee Executive Director Brent Walker, ordained minister and member of the Supreme Court bar
Location: Stetson University, DeLand, Fla.
Recap    Video #1    Video #2    Video #3

Lambert 1 boxApril 17-18, 2012 
Lecturer: Dr. Franklin T. Lambert, professor of history at Purdue University specializing in colonial America and author of several books
Location: Mercer University, Macon, Ga.

Recap    Video #1    Video #2    Video #3

melissa day 1 for mobile siteApril 4-5, 2011
Lecturer: Melissa Rogers, the director of Wake Forest University Divinity School’s Center for Religion and Public Affairs
Location: Georgetown College, Georgetown, Ky.

Recap    Video #1    Video #2    Video #3

Marty podium 1April 27-28, 2010
Lecturer: Dr. Martin E. Marty, former professor of religious history at the University of Chicago and author of more than 50 books
Location: Samford University, Birmingham, Ala.

Recap    Video #1    Video #2    Video #3

2009 Randall BalmerApril 14-15, 2009
Lecturer: Dr. Randall Balmer, professor of religious history at Barnard College and author of Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory
Location: Mercer University, Macon, Ga.

Recap    Video #1    Video #2    Video #3

2008 Pastor-Charles-G-AdamsApril 14-15, 2008 
Lecturer: Dr. Charles G. Adamspastor of Hartford Memorial Baptist Church in Detroit, Mich., and one of the nation’s most prominent ministers
Location: Wake Forest University Divinity School, Winston-Salem, N.C.


DSC_0054February 26-27, 2007
Lecturer: Dr. James M. DunnProfessor of Christianity and Public Policy at Wake Forest Divinity School and former executive director of the Baptist Joint Committee
Location: Carson-Newman College, Jefferson City, Tenn.


ShurdenApril 4-5, 2006
Lecturer: Rabbi David Sapersteindirector of the Religion Action Center of Reform Judaism
Location: Mercer University, Macon, Ga.


Watch a video of the presentation at Central Baptist Theological Seminary:


Get BJC email updates