Esteemed Theologians to Discuss Race and Religion

Shawn Copeland, HPU, High Point University, Religion and Race

Dr. M. Shawn Copeland

HIGH POINT, N.C., Sept. 19, 2013 – High Point University and St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in High Point are partnering to host a lecture series featuring two esteemed theologians from Duke Divinity School and Boston College – Dr. Willie Jennings and Dr. M. Shawn Copeland.

Willie Jennings, HPU, High Point University, Religion and Race

Dr. Willie Jennings

The series, relevant to a diverse and ecumenical audience, will investigate the meaning of racial reconciliation for faith communities, and assess the obstacles and prospects. It will be held at 7 p.m. on Oct. 27 at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in High Point, and at 4:30 p.m. on Oct. 28 in room 120 of Phillips Hall at HPU. It is free and open to the public.

The first event, on Oct. 27, is titled “Reconciliation in the Pew: Why Do All My Church Members Look Like Me?” The event will pair Jennings, associate professor of Theology and Black Church Studies at Duke Divinity School, and Copeland, professor of Theology at Boston College, with local church leaders to discuss experiences of local congregations as they relate to embodying “beloved community” across racial and ethnic differences. The conversation will be moderated by the Rt. Rev. Michael Curry, author of the recently released book, “Crazy Christians.” He is the XI Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina. A reception will follow the event.

The second event, on Oct. 28, is titled “Envisioning Beloved Community: Christianity and Race.” Both Jennings and Copeland will present brief remarks reflecting on the meaning of racial reconciliation for faith communities, as well as assessing the prospects for and obstacles to such reconciliation. A question-and-answer session will follow the lectures.

Dr. Joe Blosser, the Robert G. Culp Jr. director of service learning and assistant professor of religion and philosophy at HPU, notes that this lecture series has been made possible by a generous donor to the university who supports the Religion Department’s mission to foster lively and constructive conversations about religion and cultural differences in the community.

“This kind of lecture series enriches the learning environment of HPU students by exposing them to great minds and perennial questions,” says Blosser. “Our hope is that these esteemed speakers will spark important conversation in our local community about faith and the diversity of creation.”

Copeland has previously taught theology at Yale University Divinity School, Xavier University of Louisiana, and the Institute for Black Catholic Studies. Her research interests converge around issue of theological and philosophical anthropology, as well as African-derived religion and culture and African-American intellectual history. She is the recipient of the Distinguished Scholar Award from the Black Religious Scholars Group.

Jennings, a native of Grand Rapids, Mich., teaches in the areas of systematic theology and black church and cultural studies. Author of numerous articles, his research interests include liberation theologies, cultural identities and anthropology. Jennings has served as interim pastor to several North Carolina churches and continues to be an active, ordained Baptist minister.

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