Chidester Lecture Series

This lecture series is dedicated to exploring what it means to be a Christian in the 21st century.

The Chidester Lecture Series is being held on March 18, 2023. Our Guest Speaker will be Dr. Randall Balmer

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The Chidester Lecture Series was established by Sylvania UCC with funds donated to honor the life of William Henry Chidester.
Bill served as pastor at Sylvania UCC for 25 years before his death on May 21, 2011.

Past Lectures:

October 20-21, 2018: GRACE JI-SUN KIM

In her Saturday October 20th lecture, “Embracing the Other,” Dr. Kim developed a new constructive global pneumatology that works toward gender and racial-ethnic justice drawing on concepts from Asian and indigenous cultures to reimagine the divine as “Spirit God” who is restoring shalom in the world. Through the power of Spirit God, Kim says, our brokenness is healed and we can truly love and embrace the Other.
Additionally, during our adult Sunday school on October 21st, Dr. Kim led a discussion based on her most recent book Healing Our Broken Humanity, where she shared ten practices which will enable us to be the new humanity in Jesus Christ.

Originally from South Korea, Dr. Kim is an ordained Presbyterian minister and is currently serving as an Associate Professor of Theology at Earlham School of Religion in Indiana. She is a much sought-after speaker who has written 15 books and lectured in more than ten countries. In the summer of 2018, she was part of a peace delegation to Korea led by the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

April 28-29, 2018: PHILIP GULLEY

Philip Gulley is a Quaker pastor, writer and speaker from Danville, Indiana, and is a returning Chidester Lecturer, having visited in 2014. He has written 21 books, including the Harmony series recounting life in the eccentric Quaker community of Harmony, Indiana, and the best-selling Porch Talk essay series. Unlearning God is the title of his newest book to be published in the fall of 2018. In his lecture, Philip shared ideas about spiritual growth and reinterpretation of our earliest learned ideas about faith. He also examined the frightening yet exhilarating experience of having to unlearn the theology we were taught and replace it with something more sustainable and meaningful.

Oct. 28-29, 2017: RITA NAKASHIMA BROCK

Rita Nakashima Brock (Research Professor of Theology and Culture and Director of the Soul Repair Center, Brite Divinity School) is an expert on moral injury and its relationship to other traumas, especially in military veterans. She is director of Faith Voices for the Common Good and a minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

March 11-12, 2017: WIL GAFNEY

Wil Gafney (Ph.D. Duke University) is associate professor of Hebrew Bible at Brite Divinity School and an Episcopal priest canonically resident in the Diocese of Pennsylvania and licensed in the Diocese of Fort Worth. Among her research interests are feminist biblical studies, rabbinic studies and issues in translation.

January 14-15, 2017: QUINN CALDWELL

Quinn Caldwell is minister at Plymouth Congregational Church (UCC), Syracuse, NY. Caldwell is a member of the UCC Stillspeaking Writers’ Group and an author for the Stillspeaking Daily Devotionals. He is a former associate minister at Old South Church in Boston. He is the co-author of The Unofficial Handbook of the United Church of Christ and author of All I Really Want: Readings for a Modern Christmas.

November 5, 2016: JOHN DORHAUER

John Dorhauer is the General Minister and President of the United Church of Christ. He is the author of two books, Steeplejacking: How the Christian Right Is Hijacking Mainstream Religion and Beyond Resistance: The Institutional Church Meets the Postmodern World. He has a Doctoral degree in White Privilege studies, with a focus on how white privilege affects the church.

September 24, 2016: ERIC ELNES

Eric Elnes (Ph.D. Princeton Theological Seminary) is a leading articulator of Convergence Christianity and Senior Minister of Countryside Community Church (UCC) in Omaha, NE. He has written several books on faith, theology and culture including, The Phoenix Affirmations: A New Vision for the Future of Christianity. In 2006 he helped lead a 2,500-mile walk from Phoenix to Washington, DC, to promote awareness of progressive/emerging Christian faith.

April 30-May 1, 2016: JAN LINN

Jan Linn retired from the pastorate that he shared with his wife, Joy, at Spirit of Joy Christian Church, a progressive minded congregation that they established in Apple Valley, MN. He is the author of 14 books, including A Different Jesus: a Christian Theology Big Enough for an Interfaith World and How to be an Open-Minded Christian Without Losing Your Faith.

Listen to Jan Linn’s Sunday sermon “A Christian Faith Big Enough for an Interfaith World.”

View photos of Jan Linn’s visit

January 30-31, 2016: PETER ENNS

Peter Enns (Ph.D. Harvard University) is Abram S. Clemens professor of Biblical Studies at Eastern University (St. Davids, PA). Enns speaks and writes regularly to diverse audiences about the intersection of the ancient setting of Bible and contemporary Christian faith. He has written, edited and contributed to nearly 20 books, including his latest The Bible Tells Me So: Why Defending Scripture Has Made Us Unable to Read It.

November 7-8, 2015: THE INTERFAITH AMIGOS

The Interfaith Amigos have brought their unique blend of spiritual wisdom and humor to audiences in the U.S., Canada, Israel-Palestine and Japan. Coming together after 9/11, Pastor Don Mackenzie, Rabbi Ted Falcon and Imam Jamal Rahman have dedicated their work to supporting more effective interfaith dialogue that can bring greater collaboration on the major social and economic issues of our time. Their visit was sponsored by the Chidester Lecture Series at Sylvania UCC, the Jewish-Christian-Muslim Dialogue Committee of the University of Toledo Center for Religious Understanding, the Toledo Community Foundation and the Multifaith Council of Northwest Ohio.

Listen to “The Golden Rule and Compassion in Three Faiths”
View photos here
Toledo Blade: Multifaith message coming to Toledo

Past Chidester Lecture speakers have also included:

Nancy Dufee (January 17-18, 2015)
Annette Mahoney (November 15-16, 2014)
Robin Meyers (September 20-21, 2014)
Philip Gulley (March 15-25, 2014)
Walter Brueggemann (January 18-19, 2014)
Daniel Spencer (November 16-17, 2013)
Daoud Nassar (November 3, 2013)
Diana Butler Bass (September 21-22, 2013)
Alan Jones (March 16-17, 2013)
Martin Marty (January 19-20, 2013)