Shurden Lectures

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. Read an article about the event, or access it with the buttons below.

Dr. Catherine Brekus

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.

Lecture Archives

Shurden Lecture speaker Eboo Patel

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)

Shurden Lecture speaker Eboo Patel

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

Location: Online

Watch the full presentation here.
Two discussion guides are available:

Article in BJC magazine: Black scholars share ways religious liberty has been white too long

Shurden Lecture speaker Eboo Patel

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)