The annual Walter B. and Kay W. Shurden Lectures on Religious Liberty and Separation of Church and State travel to campuses across the country, bringing a speaker to engage with the community and inspire students to stand up for religious freedom for all people.
Designed to enhance the ministry and programs of BJC, the Walter B. and Kay W. Shurden Lectures are held at Mercer University in Georgia every three years and at another seminary, college or university in the intermediate years.
Thank you for joining us on May 31
For the 2023 event, we explored the myth of American “chosenness” at one of America’s oldest churches. Dr. Catherine Brekus, Charles Warren Professor of the History of Religion in America at Harvard Divinity School, was our keynote speaker for this year’s Walter B. and Kay W. Shurden Lecture on Religious Liberty and Separation of Church and State,
5 p.m. Doors open
5:30 p.m. – 6 p.m. Lecture from Dr. Catherine Brekus
6 p.m. – 7 p.m. Panel discussion with Dr. Catherine Brekus, The Rt. Rev. Carol Gallagher, PhD, the Rev. Darrell Hamilton, and Dr. Michael Hoberman, moderated by the Rev. Dr. Jaimie Crumley.
7 p.m. – 8 p.m. Reception
Dr. Catherine Brekus
2023 Shurden Lecturer
Catherine Brekus is Charles Warren Professor of the History of Religion in America at Harvard Divinity School, Chair of the Committee on the Study of Religion in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and an associate member of the Program in American Studies and the Department of History. She graduated from Harvard University with a BA in the history and literature of England and America, and she holds a PhD in American Studies from Yale University.
Her research focuses on the relationship between religion and American culture, with particular emphasis on the history of women, gender, Christianity, and the evangelical movement. Currently, she is writing a book about the relationship between American nationalism and Christianity and co-authoring a biography of Sarah Edwards (1710-1758) with Harry Stout and Ken Minkema.
She is the author of many articles and books, including Strangers and Pilgrims: Female Preaching in America, 1740-1845, which explores the rise of female preaching during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, and Sarah Osborn’s World: The Rise of Evangelicalism in Early America, which argues that the evangelical movement emerged in dialogue with the Enlightenment. A companion volume, Sarah Osborn’s Collected Writings, is a critical edition of some of Osborn’s eighteenth-century manuscripts. Brekus is also the editor of The Religious History of American Women: Reimagining the Past, a collection of essays that asks how women’s history changes our understanding of American religion, and the co-editor (with W. Clark Gilpin) of American Christianities: A History of Dominance and Diversity, an introduction to the multiple forms of Christian expression in the United States.
Brekus has received several awards, including a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, a Henry Luce III Faculty Fellowship in Theology, and a Pew Faculty Fellowship in Religion and American History. Her book Strangers and Pilgrims won the Brewer Prize from the American Society of Church History, and Sarah Osborn’s World won the Aldersgate Prize from Indiana Wesleyan University and the Albert C. Outler Prize from the American Society of Church History. She is a Distinguished Lecturer for the Organization of American Historians. In 2014-15 and in 2018-19 she was named the HDS Outstanding Teacher of the Year.
History of the Shurden Lectures
In 2004, Dr. Walter B. Shurden and Dr. Kay W. Shurden of Macon, Georgia, made a gift to BJC to establish an annual lectureship on the issues of religious liberty and the separation of church and state.
The lecturers may be academicians, 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.
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.
2022, March 19-20
Lecturer: Rev. Dr. Jonathan C. “Jay” Augustine, a multidisciplinary professional who serves in both ordained ministry and academia. In addition to serving as the senior pastor of St. Joseph AME Church in Durham, North Carolina, and as a missional strategist with the Duke Center for Reconciliation, he is also a law professor at North Carolina Central University.
Location: Mercer University in Atlanta and Macon, Georgia
Recap in our summer 2022 magazine: Breaking down the boundaries created by Christian nationalism
And Who Is My Neighbor? (March 29, 2022)
Religious Liberty and Christian Nationalism: A Political History and Problematic Present (March 30, 2022)
Making America Great Again?: Christian Nationalism and Recent Attempts to Undermine Democracy (March 30, 2022)
2021, April 14
Title: Religious Liberty Has Been White Too Long: Voices of Black Scholars
Lecturers: Dr. Nicole Myers Turner, Yale University; Dr. Teresa L. Smallwood, Vanderbilt Divinity School; Dr. Anthony Pinn, Rice University; Dr. David Goatley, Duke Divinity School
Watch the full presentation here.
Two discussion guides are available:
- Full five-session discussion guide
- Abridged single-session discussion guide
Article in BJC magazine: Black scholars share ways religious liberty has been white too long
2020, March 5
Lecturer: Eboo Patel, the Founder and President of Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC), a non-profit organization that is working to make interfaith cooperation a social norm in America.
Location: Baptist House of Studies at Perkins School of Theology at SMU in Dallas, Texas.
Are you ready to be an interfaith leader? (Article in BJC magazine)
Presentation #1: Religious Freedom and a Theology of Interfaith Cooperation (Video)
Presentation #2: Conversation with Eboo Patel and George Mason (Video)
Presentation #3: Religious Freedom and Interfaith Leadership (Video)