Union Theological Seminary’s Gary Dorrien Named Baccalaureate Speaker

The Baccalaureate will be held at 4 p.m. on May 19 in Packer Memorial Church.

Professor Gary Dorrien

Professor Gary Dorrien
Photo: Courtesy of Union Theological Seminary 

Professor Gary Dorrien, the Reinhold Niebuhr Professor of Social Ethics at Union Theological Seminary and Professor of Religion at Columbia University, will serve as the 2019 Baccalaureate speaker at Lehigh University.  The Baccalaureate will be held at 4 p.m. on May 19, 2019 in Packer Memorial Church.

 “Professor Dorrien is a speaker sensitive to his audience, having delivered talks in distinguished university lecture halls at major universities around the world as well as in church basements,” said the Rev. Dr. Lloyd Steffen, Lehigh University Chaplain. “He brings to his efforts political awareness, and even humor.”

Described by Cornel West as “the preeminent social ethicist in North America today,” and as “a superstar interpreter of modern religious thought” by philosopher Frederick Ferré, Dorrien is a prolific writer, having penned 19 books and over 300 articles in the areas of religious history, cultural criticism, social ethics, philosophy of religion, political economics and political theory. Dorrien has often described himself a “jock with a mystical streak…masquerading as an intellectual.”

Among Dorrien’s recent books are Breaking White Supremacy: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Black Social Gospel and Imagining Democratic Socialism: Political Theology, Marxism, and Social Democracy, both published by Yale University Press in 2018. His volume, The New Abolition: W.E. B. Dubois and the Black Social Gospel, earned the 2017 Grawemeyer Award in Religion.  On The New Abolition, theologian Emilie Townes remarked, “This is classic Dorrien—beautifully written, cogent, and moving. Dorrien is ever the careful historian, ethicist, and astute cultural critic.”

Dorrien, who has served as the Horace De Y. Lentz Visiting Professor at Harvard Divinity School and the Paul E. Raither Distinguished Scholar at Trinity College, has been a frequent speaker at colleges and universities both in the United States and abroad.  Prior to his appointment at Union/Columbia, he served as the Parfet Distinguished Professor at Kalamazoo College, where he taught for 18 years and also served as Dean of Stetson Chapel and Director of the Liberal Arts Colloquium.

“Dr. Dorrien’s ability to speak to the ethical, political and cultural context of our contemporary religious situation will undoubtedly make him a memorable speaker at Packer Church in May,” said Steffen. “We are excited that he will be with us.”

Story by Hillary Kwiatek

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