Forum on Religion and Society

2017 Lecturer: Chris Hedges

Chris HedgesJournalist and author Chris Hedges will deliver the twenty-first James Luther Adams Forum on Religion and Society on February 18, 2017, at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Princeton, New Jersey, at 7:00 p.m.

Hedges, who studied social ethics with James Luther Adams at Harvard Divinity School, quotes Adams at length in American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America (2007). He is also the author of Way of Rebellion: The Moral Imperative of Revolt (2015) and other books. As a foreign correspondent for the New York Times, Hedges contributed research and writing which won for the newspaper a Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of global terrorism. He is a columnist for TruthDig and host of "On Contact" on RT America.

Hedges was ordained by the Presbyterian Church (USA) in 2014 and serves as minister of social witness and prison ministry at Second Presbyterian Church in Elizabeth, New Jersey.

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Posted December 16, 2016

2015-2016 Lecture: Gary Dorrien

The Rev. Dr. Gary Dorrien, the Reinhold Niebuhr Professor of Social Ethics at Union Theological Seminary and Professor of Religion at Columbia University, delivered the 2015-2016 James Luther Adams Forum on Religion and Society on November 11, 2015, at Union Theological Seminary in New York City.

In his essay, "James Luther Adams and the Spirit of Liberal Theology–Then and Now," Dorrien showed that Adams drew upon liberal thought from Kant to Henry Wieman that develops aspects of the unity of divine being in creation. Like Reinhold Niebuhr, however, Adams countered the neglect of radical evil and developed the need that freedom has of power grounded in God and the need for life giving community.

Read Dorrien's essay, or watch the forum here:

Posted December 9, 2015

2014-2015 Lecturers: Virgil Stucker and Brian Snyder at Gould Farm

The 2014–2015 James Luther Adams Forum on Religion and Society will be held on August 23, 2014, at Gould Farm in Monterey, Massachusetts. The program will begin with a tour at 11:00 a.m., followed by lunch at the nearby Monterey United Church of Christ with produce from the farm, followed by the Forum itself.

Gould Farm is a residential therapeutic community. James Luther Adams shared in its leadership and spent his summers there. The two speakers, Virgil Stucker and Brian Snyder, and the moderator, Steven Smith, knew Adams at the Farm or studied under him and have been leaders at the Farm—and their present callings have been influenced by Adams and the Farm. Virgil Stucker, executive director of CooperRiis Healing Communities, will describe principles from healing communities that can be used to form voluntary associations. Brian Snyder, former executive director of the Farm, is executive director of the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture; he will demonstrate how JLA’s commitment to voluntary associations was exhibited in his commitment to Gould Farm and the therapeutic power of return to the land. Steven Smith, a public defender investigator, knew Adams at the Farm as a child; he is the editor of One Hundred Years of Service Through Community: A Gould Farm Reader (2014). His father, Kent, was a longtime executive director of the Farm.

Photograph: Greenhouses and solar panels on the barn at Gould Farm (cc 2006 Nancy Nylen/SARE Outreach).

Posted June 1, 2014

Watch Michael Hogue's 2014 Lecture

Meadville Lombard Theological School, the host of the 2014 James Luther Adams Forum on Religion and Society, has posted a video of Michael Hogue's lecture, "Toward a Deeper Democracy," which Hogue presented in Chicago on March 18:

Watch Michael Hogue's 2014 James Luther Adams Foundation lecture from Meadville Lombard on Vimeo.

Posted April 29, 2014

2013-2014 Lecturer: Michael Hogue

The eighteenth annual James Luther Adams Forum on Religion and Society will be given March 18, 2014, by Michael Hogue, associate professor of Theology at Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago. He will speak on “Towards a Deeper Democracy: James Luther Adams and the Aesthetics of Solidarity.” In the spirit of James Luther Adams, he will critically compare American philosophies of community and advance the idea of aesthetic solidarities as a model for the culturing of deep democracy in a postsecular, pluralistic society. American political theology is one of his special areas of thought and publication.

The James Luther Adams Foundation is especially pleased to have a younger Adams scholar for the Forum, as many of us are getting older or have passed on. Five years ago Mike received the John Templeton Award for Theological Promise.

The forum will be March 18, 6:30 p.m., at Meadville Lombard’s new campus, Spertus Institute, sixth floor common room, 610 S. Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois.

Posted September 15, 2013

2012-2013 Lecturer: George Kimmich Beach

Updated November 9, 2012: The James Luther Adams Foundation announces the seventeenth annual James Luther Adams Forum on Religion and Society. The forum will be hosted by the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Columbus, Ohio, on Sunday, November 18, 2012, at 1:30 p.m.

The Rev. Dr. George Kimmich Beach, one of Adams's leading interpreters, will speak on the topic "'What's Past Is Prologue': James Luther Adams and the Unitarian Universalists."

Beach, a student and friend of Adams, has edited three collections of Adams's essays: The Prophethood of All Believers, An Examined Faith, and The Essential James Luther Adams. He has interpreted Adams's thought in various publications, including Transforming Liberalism: The Theology of James Luther Adams (2003). A graduate of Oberlin College (AB), Harvard Divinity School (STB, Th.M.), and Wesley Theological Seminary (D.Min.), he was awarded an honorary doctorate from Meadville Lombard Theological School in 1987. He served Unitarian Universalist churches in New York, Massachusetts, Texas, and Virginia, and an urban ministry in Cleveland, Ohio.

Adams, a self-described "come-outer" from fundamentalism, was drawn to Unitarianism during his undergraduate years at the University of Minnesota. He was a parish minister, social activist, denominational leader, and professor of theology and social ethics at Meadville Lombard, Harvard, and Andover Newton theological schools; he profoundly influenced his adopted faith.

Beach delivered this lecture as the 2011–2012 James Luther Adams Forum on Religion and Society in Newton, Massachusetts, in November 2011.

For information on logistics in Columbus, including lodging, directions to the church (see map), accessibility, and parking, contact the Rev. Eric Meter, associate minister, the First UU Church of Columbus, 93 West Westsheimer Rd., Columbus OH 43214, phone 614-267-4946 x23.

Continue reading "2012-2013 Lecturer: George Kimmich Beach"

Posted September 25, 2012

Patrick Miller's 2009 Lecture Now Online

Patrick D. Miller has published an essay that began as his 2009 James Luther Adams Forum on Religion and Society. Read "James Luther Adams as Biblical Theologian," Theology Today 66 (2010): 430-444 [pdf].

Posted October 14, 2011

2011-2012 Lecturer: George Kimmich Beach

The James Luther Adams Foundation announces the sixteenth annual James Luther Adams Forum on Religion and Society. The Rev. Dr. George Kimmich Beach, one of Adams's leading interpreters, will speak on the topic "'What's Past Is Prologue': James Luther Adams and the Unitarian Universalists."

Beach, a student and friend of Adams, has edited three collections of Adams's essays: The Prophethood of All Believers, An Examined Faith, and The Essential James Luther Adams. He has interpreted Adams's thought in various publications, including Transforming Liberalism: The Theology of James Luther Adams (2003). A graduate of Oberlin College (AB), Harvard Divinity School (STB, Th.M.), and Wesley Theological Seminary (D.Min.), he was awarded an honorary doctorate from Meadville Lombard Theological School in 1987. He served Unitarian Universalist churches in New York, Massachusetts, Texas, and Virginia, and an urban ministry in Cleveland, Ohio.

Adams, a self-described "come-outer" from fundamentalism, was drawn to Unitarianism during his undergraduate years at the University of Minnesota. He was a parish minister, social activist, denominational leader, and professor of theology and social ethics at Meadville Lombard, Harvard, and Andover Newton theological schools; he profoundly influenced his adopted faith.

The lecture will address three questions: What drew Adams to the Unitarian community and, despite sharp critiques, sustained his commitment to the liberal church? What was his impact on the Unitarian and Unitarian Universalist movement, institutionally, interpersonally, and intellectually? And what distinctive themes of Adams's thought should we develop to continue his creative ferment among religious liberals?

Responding to Beach's lecture will be the Rev. Thomas R. Schade, senior minister of First Unitarian Church of Worcester, Massachusetts, and Michael S. Hogue, associate professor of theology at Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago.

The forum will be November 10, 2011, at 7:00 p.m. at Wilson Chapel, Andover Newton Theological School, 210 Herrick Rd., Newton, Massachusetts.

Posted July 28, 2011

2010-2011 Lecturer: John R. Wilcox

The James Luther Adams Foundation announces the fifteenth annual James Luther Adams Forum on Religion and Society. Dr. John R. Wilcox, vice president for mission at Manhattan College, will speak on the topic "Together and by Association: The Legacy of James Luther Adams and the Future of Religious Colleges and Universities."

Dr. Wilcox, a former Marist brother, joined the religious studies faculty of Manhattan College in 1974 and chaired the department for eight years. As vice president for mission, Wilcox organizes events that celebrate the college's Lasallian heritage. Wilcox is most familiar to Adams scholars through Taking Time Seriously: James Luther Adams (1978). He is the author or coauthor of several books about religious higher education, including Enhancing Religious Identity: Best Practices from Catholic Campuses (2000) and The Leadership Compass: Values and Ethics in Higher Education (1994).

The Rev. Dr. Gary Dorrien, Reinhold Niebuhr Professor of Social Ethics at Union Theological Seminary and Professor of Religion at Columbia University, will deliver a response. Dorrien is the author of the trilogy The Making of American Liberal Theology, Social Ethics in the Making: Interpreting an American Tradition, and many other books.

The forum will be March 31, 2011, at 4:00 p.m. at Manhattan College in Riverdale, in the Bronx, New York. (Directions)

Posted September 17, 2010

2009-2010 Lecturer: Don Browning

The James Luther Adams Foundation announces the fourteenth annual James Luther Adams Forum on Religion and Society. The lecture will be given this year by the well-known Christian ethicist Don S. Browning, the Alexander Campbell Professor Emeritus of Ethics and the Social Sciences at the University of Chicago Divinity School. The title of his lecture is, "Religion and Civil Society in James Luther Adams, Reformed Theology, and Catholicism." Professor Browning was a long-time friend of Adams going back to his Chicago and Harvard days. He is also well-known for his relating Christian ethics to pastoral counseling. The Rev. Ian Evison, Congregational Services Director for the Central Midwest District of the Unitarian Universalist Association, will be the respondent.

The forum will be Thursday, October 15, 2009, at 4:00 p.m. in Swift Hall of the University of Chicago Divinity School. A reception will follow in the Common Room.

Posted June 3, 2009

2009 Lecturer: Patrick Miller

The 2009 James Luther Adams Forum on Religion and Society will be held Monday, January 12, at Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton, N.J. The forum will take place at 1:15 p.m. in the Erdman Center.

The speaker is Dr. Patrick D. Miller, Charles T. Haley Professor of Old Testament Theology Emeritus at Princeton Theological Seminary, who will address Adams's use of the Bible.

Posted July 1, 2008

2007-2008 Lecturer: Michelle Campagnolo Bouvier

The 2007-2008 James Luther Adams Foundation Forum on Religion and Society will be held on April 6, 2008, at 7:00 p.m. at the Emerson Unitarian Universalist Church in Houston, Texas.

The lecture will be given by Michelle Campagnolo Bouvier, Secretary General of the Société Européenne de Culture in Venice, Italy. She will discuss her own contacts with Adams as well as his significant relationships with her father, André Bouvier, and her husband, Umberto Campagnolo.

She will be setting her reflections in the wider context of Adams's collaboration with her father in the ecumenical field and will be looking for traces of the influence of Harvard Divinity School, where Adams taught, on them. She is pleased to be drawing particular attention to Adams's ecumenical interests, a topic that the Forum has not yet treated at length. She will discuss Adams's influence on the ecumenical movement and particularly upon the development of the Société Européenne de Culture.

Posted May 17, 2007

Harvey Cox's 2007 Lecture Now Online

The text of Professor Harvey Cox's lecture, delivered March 15 as the 2006-2007 James Luther Adams Forum on Religion and Society, is now available online as a PDF. In his address, Cox examines the rise of evangelical and Pentecostal churches in Brazil — known as crentes — which illustrate many of Adams's ideas about voluntary associations. Cox asks what crentes are doing in Latin America to nurture the rise of genuine democracy and how they are beginning to influence public policy.

Posted March 15, 2007

2006-2007 Lecturer: Harvey Cox

This year's James Luther Adams Forum on Religion and Society will be held on Tuesday, March 13, 2007, at 5:15 p.m. in the Sperry Lecture Hall of Harvard Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The lecture will be given this year by Dr. Harvey G. Cox, Jr., Hollis Professor of Divinity, at the Divinity School. His topic will be "James Luther Adams: Evangelical Unitarian or Unitarian Evangelical?" Professor Cox is eminently qualified to speak on this topic as a doctoral student and former colleague of Adams on one hand. On the other hand he has an active knowledge of Evangelicalism from his own background, including InterVarsity in college, and from team teaching courses at Harvard with outstanding Evangelical and Pentecostal scholars. This interest has also been reflected in his writings.

A reception will follow.

Posted February 12, 2007